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Our arrival at Yunishigawa-Onsen Station in Tochigi Prefecture is more than a little disconcerting.

The two-carriage train, which until now has been chugging determinedly through an increasingly snowy landscape, pulls to a halt in the middle of a tunnel. The doors slide open to reveal a dimly lit corridor leading down to a lone, forlorn-looking elevator — it feels as though we are entering a disused hideaway from a 1960s James Bond flick.

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