Japan‘s deepest train station is almost certainly its creepiest. Doai Station is located in Gunma Prefecture, close to the hot spring town of Minakami. It is nestled deep inside the Shimizu Tunnel, which was once the longest tunnel in Japan. When it was completed in 1931, it cut travel time between Tokyo and Niigata by four hours.
Passengers looking to board one of Doai’s trains must descend 70 meters (230 feet) from the entrance, making it the deepest train station in the country. That title was previously held by Yoshioka-Kaitei Station in Hokkaido until its closure in 2014. Doai’s layout is quite unique, as it features two separate single side platforms, located on different elevations. While the southbound platform is just steps away from the entrance, the northbound trains are accessed by the deep tunnel. There are a whopping 486 stairs that descend into a cold cavern-like facility. Strong winds often blow through the station, especially when a train passes by, so don’t forget to pack a jacket. To make matters creepier, Doai Station is an unmanned station, meaning there will be no one to hear you scream (or validate your ticket).
Operated by JR East, Doai Station serves train passengers but until recently was visited by more ghost-hunting tourists than locals. Aside from a few hiking trails, there never was much to do around Doai until 2021, when JR East decided to launch a project aimed at revitalizing the struggling rural station. The project decided to open a glamping (a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping”) facility called Doai Village and transformed the ticket office into a fashionable cafe. Now you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee or a trendy camping stay at Japan’s creepiest train station.
Until the glamping facilities opened, Doai Station was one of the most well-known “abandoned” spots in Kanto, despite it actually being a working train station. Doai Village was meant to pump some life into the declining station, and to that end, visitors can now enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry at the former ticket office. If you’re willing to brave the dark countryside overnight, you can book a tent at the Village. As there are only four tents available, make sure you book far in advance.
Know Before You Go
Doai Station is accessible by the JR East Joetsu Line. Make sure you use a website like Hyperdia to confirm train times, especially considering the station is unmanned. There will be no staff to help you if you get stuck. Trains do not run frequently in rural areas like Gunma and there are few facilities if you miss the last train.
Visitors wishing to book a glamping experience may do so on Doai Village’s website. The standard single-night package starts at ¥25,000 per person for adults and ¥15,000 for children. This includes dinner and breakfast, as well as some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Cafe Mogura is open on irregular days, with a message on their website stating they have no fixed schedule and often take weekdays off. Check their Instagram the day of your visit (@doaivillage).