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Enjoy Japan’s countryside, from Okayama to Hiroshima, for just ¥100

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

The Ibara Line starts at Soja Station and runs westbound across Okayama Prefecture to terminate at Kannabe Station in Hiroshima Prefecture. The line opened in 1999, and along its roughly 40-km route, it offers vast views of typical Japanese inaka (countryside) during the hour-long journeys.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the railway, the Ibara Line is allowing anyone to ride its trains for a uniform price of ¥100 on Jan. 11. The “one-coin day” event also features a variety of other perks, including free amazake (sweet rice drinks) in some stations, sales of fresh, locally grown vegetables and mochi- (rice-cake) making events. Local comedians are also scheduled to perform skits at some of the stations.

Those who not only want to experience the country lifestyle but also do something a little different can hop off the train at Yakage Station and take a cab to Bisei Astronomical Observatory, one of the largest in the country that is open to the public. The 101-cm aperture telescope will provide an astounding view of the stars above Okayama.

The Ibara Line’s “one-coin” day takes place on Jan. 11. Most events at the stations start at 9 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. For more information, contact 0866-62-9504 or visit plus.harenet.ne.jp/~ibarasen.