A Look Back in Time: Hakone Tozan Railway


Hakone Tozan Railway, which serves the people visiting Hakone, celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2018. This article will introduce photographs of Hakone-Yumoto Station in the middle of Showa Period (1926 - 89), and the nostalgic Hakone Tozan Cable Car. By comparing the photographs of two different eras, the history of Hakone Tozan Railway will come into view.

Hakone-Yumoto Station: Past and Present

The top photograph shows the current Hakone-Yumoto Station, and the bottom photograph is the 1950 version of the station, when Odakyu Electric Railway extended their services from Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto. The difference in design and the size of the station can easily be noticed. The current station, equipped with an elevator, assists the tourists visiting Hakone, with coin-operated lockers, Hakone Carry (baggage delivery) service and a kiosk.

The Arrival of the Electric Train

The photograph shows a scene from 1900, when Odawara Electric Railway, the predecessor of Hakone Tozan Railway, opened business. An electric train can be seen running through the pine grove of the Sakawa district in Odawara City. Note that the pedestrians are still wearing Japanese kimono. In the age of the horse tramway, with the horses pulling railcars, an electric train was an epoch-making event, bringing modern culture to the Hakone area.

The Second Cable Car in Japan

Hakone Tozan Cable Car opened in 1921, from Shimo-Gora (the present Gora Station) to Kami-Gora (the present Sounzan Station). The service was suspended twice due to the Great Kanto Earthquake and World War II.

The cable car plays an important role in the Hakone Golden Course, a staple sightseeing route. The 1921 cable car, shown in the bottom photograph, had no windows and came with two types of seating, special and normal. The current, Swiss-made car in the top photograph has a large window so that the travelers can enjoy the scenery.

Hakone Gora Park: Past and Present

Hakone Gora Park is closely related to Hakone Tozan Railway. The top photograph shows the current state of the park, and the bottom photograph is from the time when it opened. Although the fountain may have changed, the image remains the same.

Hakone Gora Park opened in 1914 and was built as a symbol of Gora Station, the last stop of the Hakone Tozan Railway. The park is designed in a symmetrical style, with the fountain at its center. There used to be a pool at the opening of the park, which was later turned into Hakone Crafthouse.

The Switchback System

Hakone Tozan Railway is famous for its switchback operation system. From its opening, the trains have been climbing the mountain by changing directions and going in a zig-zag fashion on the route. The current trains switch directions at Deyama Signal Station, Ohiradai Station and Kami-Ohiradai Signal Station.

The top photograph shows the current state of the Kami-Ohiradai Signal Station. Deyama Signal Station, at the time of its opening, is shown in the bottom photograph. When the train changes direction, the engineer and the conductor also switch their seats.

Hayakawa Bridge: Past and Present

Bottom Photograph: Courtesy of Shimoda Corporation

The top photograph shows the present, and the bottom photograph shows the past of Hayakawa Bridge, which was the most difficult section of the railroad construction. This bridge is also known as “Deyama Bridge”.

In the fall season, all the trees turn red. As the bridge is suspended 43 meters above a river, building the scaffolding turned out to be an arduous task.

The bottom photograph, taken by the construction company, shows the scaffolding at the time. The present Hayakawa Bridge is known as a popular sightseeing spot in Hakone.

The information in this article is from May 25, 2018.