If you plan to go to Tanigawadake Ropeway, I recommend you stop by Doai station.
It is only a 10-15 minute walk from Tanigawadake Ropeway.
This Doai station is popular for having the deepest platform in Japan.
You need to take 486 steps (462＋24) down from the ticket gate.
It will be 80 meters depth!
It will take more than 10 minutes from the ticket gate to the platform.
When I was planning a trip to Tanigawadake ropeway, I found this Doai station on the map, I decided to stop by.
When you walk from Tanigawadake ropeway to Doai station, be careful for the passing cars as there is no sidewalk for the passenger.
There were few cars passing by when I went there, so I could enjoy green trees and small waterfall.
This waterfall is called “Yubuki no Taki” (湯吹きの滝). This waterfall was artificially created for blocking sands and muds.
There is also an auto mobile camping area.
There is a hot spring nearby, so this place might be a good hidden camping area.
If you pass railroad crossing, Doai station is almost there.
Actually, there is a ground level platform as well at Doai station.
Depending on the destination, you can take either a ground level platform or a deep underground platform.
If you want to try the deep underground platform, you need to take a Joetsu line train heading to Muikamachi (六日町) in Niigata Pref.
Then I have finally arrived at Doai station.
There is nobody working at the station, but the signboard says “Welcome to Doai station. This is the most deepest mole station in Japan!”.
Speaking of a history of Doai station, it has started in 1931 as branch point.
Then in 1932, it opened only in winter for tourists who enjoy skiing.
There were people working till 1985, but it became no man station.
Station staff will come from the nearby station, Minakami station, only when there is an event.
This is the waiting room.
It is kept clean, but there was nobody.
Here is the ticket office, but currently it is all closed.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the ground level platform heading to Tokyo.
Then I would go check the deep ground level platform.
There was nobody at the ticket office, and there were few people at Doai station, so it was a very lonely atmosphere.
The wall was bare concrete block, so it reminded me of a jail or something.
It looks a bit scary.
Hallway was very dark and quiet.
Then you would finally reach to the entrance of the steps going down 80 meter depth.
You could feel the long history of the station by looking at the rust on the ceiling.
At the end of this hallway, you would eventually see the steps which looks like never ending.
Here it is!
There were so many steps that I could not see the end of the steps.
This 462 steps is about 338 meters!
As I was traveling by myself, I did not have a courage to climb down the whole steps.
But I would recommend you take the whole steps down to the deepest point and check out the mole platform in Japan.
If you a climbing up from the bottom, you will see the end of steps like this.
Then you would notice the triangle wall at the center of the hallway.
This is to block the air coming from the deepest point.
Behind the wall, there was a greeting message from the station.
If you can see this message, it means you have completed the 462 steps!
There is another 24 steps to get to the ticket gate, so it will be 486 steps at the total.
Why I recommend Doai station?
I think the building itself is made before world war 2.
So it is a good chance to see the old architecture in Japan.
Plus, there was a no man station, so it was a bit scary.
It was a totally different atomosphere. Very unusual.
Tourists usually go to the place where they can enjoy the beautiful scenery, but this place is the place to enjoy the scenery which is totally different from the normal life.
It was a bit scary, but I could feel the passion of the Japanese people at that time to create so many steps and the deepest platform before the war.
If you want to go to Doai station directly from Tokyo, you might want to take the local line so that you can arrive at the deepest platform.
For example, take the bullet train, Joetsu Shinkansen for Niigata or Echigo Yuzawa at Tokyo station, and get off at Echigo Yuzawa station.
Then change the train to Joetsu line round for Nagaoka, and get off at Doai station.
Reference: Japan Transit Planner website
Since there are only 6 trains stopping at the deepest platform at Doai station, so plan your trip carefully.
Timetable which stop at Doai Station (From Tokyo to Nagaoka in Niigata pref.). Arriving to Doai station at:
After Doai station, I went to Minakami Onsen for good Onsen (hot spring) and delicious dinner and breakfast!