All About Japan

Ride the Rails on Kyoto's Ghost Train

| Trains , Spooky

One of the easiest ways to get to Arashiyama is by using the Keifuku Railway line. Just hop on at Shijo Omiya Station, conveniently located in central Kyoto, and ride all the way to Arashiyama Station at the end of the line. The trip takes a little over 20 minutes, and is rather peaceful... unless you're on the Ghost Train!

Every summer, Keifuku infests a few of its trains with yokai, the supernatural creatures that feature prominently in Japanese folklore. Different linguists have made compelling arguments for translating yokai as ghosts, goblins or monsters.

Adding to the atmosphere is the eerie background music played inside the yokai train. Oh, and one more thing to keep in mind: the Yokai Train runs both ways from Shijo Omiya and Arashiyama, but it doesn’t stop at any of the usual stations along the way. Once the doors close, you’re trapped with the yokai until the end of the line.

Having the intestinal fortitude to travel with ghostly entities isn’t without its advantages though. A ride on the Yokai Train costs ¥200 (US$1.98) for adults, a ¥20-savings compared to the price for Keifuku’s human-only trains.

Kids’ tickets are cheaper still at just ¥100, but even they’re not the most economical way to make the trip. That’s because yokai can ride for just ¥50. Since Keifuku is, first and foremost, a rail company, it doesn’t employ a team of mystics, mediums and exorcists to officially verify passengers’ yokai status. Instead, that judgment call gets left to station attendants, who have the power to bestow the discount on anyone who “looks like a yokai at first glance,” so if you’re looking to get some summertime use out of your Halloween costume, this could be your chance.

Just don’t be surprised if no one wants to sit next to you when you transfer to another line on your way home. The 2016 yokai train runs from August 11 to 15.

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