The Usui Pass is a mountain pass that lies between Nagano and Gunma Prefectures.
It has served as one of
the major transportation routes in central Japan since at least the eighth
The Shinetsu Main Line railway went through the pass between 1893 and 1997.
The 11.2 km pass segment,
between Yokokawa Station on the Gunma side and Karuizawa Station on the
Nagano side, had been operated Kumano
with the rack-and-pinion railway system until 1963 when the line was rebuilt,
and new locomotives for non-rack
operation were introduced. The newly introduced locomotives were the JNR
Class EF63 banking engines used for help
in both ascending and descending the 66.7$B"s(B (1 in 15) gradient. In 1997,
the segment was closed due to
opening of the new Nagano Shinkansen line that detours the pass with a
The Usui Pass railway-trace promenade trail walk, which is called as '
Apt-road' for a pedestrian, was
completed in 2012. The total length from Kumanotaira to Yokokawa is 6.1
(L) The west end of a tunnel that is viewed from the discarded Kumanotaira
The strategic railway point of traffic has now turned into ruins.
(R) A stairway to go up the old Kumanotaira station$B!!(B$B5l7'%NJ?1X(B
(L) A signpost directing to Megane Bridge
(R) Kumanotaira at around 1906
(L) Kumanotaira substation was built in 1937. The role of this facility
has ended in 1997.
(R) The west end of tunnels is closed at Kumanotaira.
(L) A tunnel between Kumanotaira and Megane Bridge
(R) The space between tunnels, it is filled with green trees.
(L) Mountain is filled with fresh green. (R) A display to attention to
(L) A wall of the tunnel has begun to be partially damaged.
(R) A clear stream is flowing between the forest with a fresh green.
(L) Sodium-vapor lamp is used in this tunnel near the Megane Bridge
(R) Megane Bridge$B!!(B$B$a$,$M66(B
Megane Bridge, the largest brick bridge structure in Japan: This bridge
was used until 1963.
The total length is 91 m, the height 31 m.
(L) A signpost shows the distance from this point to Yokokawa 4.8 km.
(R) A new railway-track bridge was completed in 1963. After the construction
of a single line, a double-track railway line was completed in 1966.
However, it was closed in 1997 after completion of the tunnel route of
the high-speed railway, Nagano Shinkansen.
Illumination of a tunnel by a sodium-vapor lamp
(L) There are many tunnels between Megane Bridge and the southern end of
the mountain promenade.
(R) A description display board of Maruyama substation
Maruyama substation: This facility has been used from 1929 until 1997.
Railway trip to Yokokawa Terminal Station
(L) A train on Shinetsu Main Line is leaving Takasaki station for Yokokawa.
(R) Matuida station was moved to the new place, after demolished the old
station, which was once a railway station of switchback.
Shortly before arriving at the Yokokawa station, the railway trach is divided
to a separate line.
Here, the distance to Nagano is 95 km, to karuizawa 21 km.
Terminal railway station, Yokokawa
(L) Abt railway system was devised by Roman Abt, a Swiss locomotive engineer.
(R) EF63 Electiric locomotive pulled a limited express train 'Hakusan'
(L) A dam lake, Lake Usui
(R) An old rail track is presently used as a railway of a trolley train.
We can see Mount Myogi in the distance.
(L) Two monkeys are shaking wire that is not active.
(M) This is the only place in which an ordinary person can drive a genuine
You have to receive one-day lecture and to pay 30,000 yen plus 5,000 each
time you drive.
(R) A trolley train is running between Yokokawa station and Togenoyu hot-spring
(L) Railway-culture village (M) Electric locomotives are used in pulling
a passenger vehicle over the Usui Pass.
(R) Old advertisement board of 'Kinchoru' has used since 1934.
This was photographed at Yokokawa. $B!z(B$B%-%s%A%g!<%k$N%[!<%m!<4GHD$r(B45$BEY79$1$F?e@Z$j$rNI$/$7!"Ie?)$rKI$$$G$$$k(B
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$B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!\(BKaruizawa in autumn
A shourt excurcion from Tokyo metropolitan area
$B!!(BEnoshima and Kamakura tour
$B!z(BThis Web site is link-free.
This information was provided by the Smokefree Hotel and Travel.
The article was written in May 2016, by Junhaku Miyamoto, M.D., PhD.