Steam locomotives were pulled out of regular service by the mid-1970s. But a few railway companies who realize the potential in bringing in tourists have brought them back on a limited basis.
Here we introduce four railways near Tokyo that you can easily do as a daytrip from central Tokyo. You could use your JR Pass part of the way to access these private lines, though you will have to buy a separate ticket once you reach your destination.
Easiest to access, about an hour to the northwest of Tokyo.
Scenic views of the Arakawa River.
One round-trip service mainly on weekends (excluding winter)
Northeast of central Tokyo
Runs through city of Mashiko, known for pottery.
One roundtrip service mainly on weekends, all year long.
Enjoy views of Mt. Fuji from the Bullet Train en route to Oigawa.
Furthest away from the three railways mentioned, however a daily service all year long (excluding winter)
Only operator to have reservations available in English
Tobu Railway "Taiju"
Latest addition to a service of steam trains; began running in 2017.
Near the world heritage Nikko region
Year-round operation, mainly on weekends and national holidays
Two departures per day in each direction.