Ome is, as they say, a ways away. At least from central Tokyo. I rock on a west-bound Chuo Line train from Tokyo Station for about 90 minutes before I get there.

Once I alight, though, the station's quaint wooden platform buildings make me feel like I've traveled backward through time. Butterflies flit by and swallows swoop over the train tracks, backed by mountainous terrain. The air is full of pollen, and there's a rarity once the train disappears: utter quiet.

Taking the south exit, I pass through a tunnel of retro, hand-painted movie signboards, most of which feature trains: Vittorio de Sica's "Terminal Station" (1953), Pietro Germi's "Il Ferroviere" ("The Railroad Man," 1956) and Shinji Murayama's "Tabiji" ("The Journey," 1967). In an effort to find out more about these, I ask the stationmaster, and he directs me to a charming little visitor's center nearby.