The nearly century-old Doai Station in the Gunma countryside is known for being the deepest train station in Japan, with a seemingly never-ending tunnel of 486 stairs down to its platform. As the station, run by JR East, is unmanned, it can feel abandoned to those roaming the 70-metre-deep underground platform, but now the facility is anything but. Thanks to an intriguing project launched by JR East Startup, the train station has recently become part of a new glamping site called Doai Village.
While the station is still served by the Joetsu Line, JR East wanted to attract more visitors to the area and save the station from decline. So the company built a cosy glamping facility around it – on the ground level of course – where people could get the most out of the surrounding natural scenery and explore all that Gunma has to offer.
Four tents dot the property around the station, each spacious enough to accommodate four people year-round. There is even a Finnish-style sauna hut which you can use to stay warm and toasty in winter when the site is blanketed in several feet of snow.
Even more exciting is the campground café Mogura, which was once the train station’s unmanned ticket office, but has now transformed into a lounge for visitors to stop by for a snack and a hot drink. Though staff now brew coffee behind the counters instead of printing tickets, you’ll still spot a few train conductor hats scattered about the space as a reminder of the station’s bygone days.
Rather than being completely renovated with a brand new interior, the café still features the station’s original signage and ticket windows which give off a nostalgic Showa-era (1926-1989) vibe.
To stay at Doai Village, a standard single-night package starts at ¥25,000 per person for adults and ¥15,000 for children. This includes dinner and breakfast, as well as some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. You can book via the official website (in Japanese only).
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