Nothing beats wandering through the majestic views of mountainous landscapes, across beautiful rivers and seeing local activities in rural areas. A journey through time: this is the Paleo Express that runs across east to west of Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture. This train has a special place among railway enthusiasts and also the many tourists looking to make some nostalgic memories along this route. Since it is located in the neigboring prefecture to Tokyo, it is a very easy trip to make.
Established in 1944, this classic locomotive, the Paleo Express, used to ride around the Tohoku area. From 1988, it served as a nostalgic route between Kumagaya Station and Mitsumine-guchi Station, a 57km train route in Saitama Prefecture. The name of Paleo Express came from an ancient marine dinosaur that was discovered to have lived in the area of Chichibu about 20,000,000 years ago.
I started my trip with the Paleo Express from Chichibu Station. It costs 700 yen for the journey between Chichibu Station to Mitsumine-guchi Station. I waited with many other passengers who were all very excited to welcome the coming of the train. When the train started to enter the station, most of the passengers quickly grabbed their cameras to capture this rare moment. When the train started to leave the station, I saw so many people stood besides the railway line, waving their hands and cheering us on. A happy mood all around.
The Paleo Express is an absolutely fun way to enjoy the scenic landscape of Chichibu. It felt like turning back time, enjoying the scenery while you can see the cloud of the locomotive's smoke enhancing the beautiful views... magic! Along the way, you will see many locals momentarily stop working in the fields just to wave and cheer on the train. Also, quite a few photographers will wait for the train to come, so they can catch a rare glimpse of this classic steam locomotive. The journey takes about 50 minutes to the last station of Mitsumine-guchi. At the end of your trip, you can take a moment to take photos with this C58363 steam locomotive. You can also see the drivers preparing the locomotive for the next departure.
There are two daily departures from Chichibu Station: 12.20pm to Mitsumine-guchi and 3:10pm to Kumagaya Station. The Paleo Express operates between the months of March and November. The locomotive is operational at weekends and holidays only. So, ask for the schedule before you go at the Chichibu Railway Office. To get to Chichibu Station, you can jump onto the Seibu-Chichibu Line at Ikeburuo Station, Tokyo. Another way is to go by JR line to Kumagaya Station. The journey from Tokyo generally takes about one hour. So now you've got an idea how to experience this magical tour and turn back time, right?