The Takasaki Line is a railway line operated by JR East that runs between Takasaki Station in Gunma Prefecture and Omiya Station in Saitama Prefecture.
All services on the Takasaki Line are through services that continue beyond Omiya Station on the Tohoku Main Line. Regular Takasaki Line services continue on to JR Ueno Station via the Tohoku Main Line and then on to Tokyo Station via the Ueno-Tokyo Line. There are also Shonan-Shinjuku Line services running on the Takasaki Line that do not connect with Ueno or Tokyo but instead connect with the Yamanote Line at Ikebukuro Station. In this article we will only describe regular Takasaki Line services that run from JR Ueno Station towards Takasaki.
At JR Ueno Station Takasaki Line services are all northbound and they depart from platforms 5, 6, 13, and 14. Limited Express services on this line depart from platforms 14, 15, and 16. For southbound services headed for Tokyo see our article on the Ueno-Tokyo Line. As the Takasaki Line is operated by JR East it is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Takasaki Line services running from JR Ueno Station stop at the following Tohoku Main Line stations before joining the Takasaki Line at Omiya:
Ueno > Oku > Akabane > Urawa > Saitama-Shintoshin > Omiya
There are 19 stations on the Takasaki Line itself:
Omiya > Miyahara > Ageo > Kita-Ageo > Okegawa > Kitamoto > Konosu > Kita-Konosu > Fukiage > Gyoda > Kumagaya > Kagohara > Fukaya > Okabe > Honjo > Jimbohara > Shinmachi > Kuragano > Takasaki
The key destinations on this route are listed below with information on their main attractions and transfer points. Fares and example train times given from JR Ueno Station.
Ueno’s attractions include a large number of museums and art galleries in the grounds of Ueno Park, the pandas in Ueno Zoo, and bargain shopping in the Ameya-yokocho shopping arcade.
Ueno Station is also a major transportation hub with connections to JR East’s Yamanote, Utsunomiya, Takasaki, Joban, and Ueno-Tokyo lines; the Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Joetsu, Hokkaido and Hokuriku shinkansen services; Tokyo Metro’s Ginza and Hibiya lines; and the Keisei Main Line.
Akabane Nature Observation Park is a 14 minute walk from Akabane Station. The park features wetlands and woodland with native species of trees and also has a barbecue site.
Transfer here to JR East’s Shonan-Shinjuku Line, the Keihin-Tohoku Line, and the Saikyo Line.
Train fare: 170 yen
Train time: 9 minutes
Transfer here to JR East’s Utsunomiya Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, and Shonan-Shinjuku Line.
Train fare: 390 yen
Train time: 18 minutes
Exit here for sports and music events at Saitama Super Arena.
Transfer here to JR East’s Keihin-Tohoku Line and Utsunomiya Line.
Train fare: 470 yen
Train time: 22 minutes
Omiya’s attractions include the ancient Hikawa Shrine, Omiya Railway Museum, Omiya Bonsai Village, the Japan Mint Museum, and Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore.
Transfer here to JR East’s Utsunomiya Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line, Saikyo Line, and Kawagoe Line. The Tohoku Shinkansen, the Yamagata Shinkansen, the Akita Shinkansen, the Joetsu Shinkansen, and the Hokuriku Shinkansen also run from Omiya Station. Transfers can also be made here to the Tobu Urban Park Line, and Saitama New Urban Transit’s “New Shuttle” on the Ina Line.
Train fare: 470 yen
Train time: 25 minutes
Gyoda is a city in northern Saitama Prefecture with a number of interesting and unusual attractions.
- Oshi Castle is a 1988 reconstruction of the original 15th century castle which contains a museum and has a great view over the city from its top floor.
- Sakitama Kofun Park is a public park which contains 9 ancient burial mounds dating from the 6th century. There is also a museum on the park grounds, which displays items which were found in the tombs, such as haniwa clay figures and the Inariyama Sword which is a national treasure.
- Kodai Hasu no Sato (Ancient Lotus Park) has a large lotus pond with plants grown from ancient seeds found by chance on a construction site. The seeds were believed to be at least 1,400 years old but came back to life when planted and watered. Thousands of lotus flowers of 42 varieties bloom here between June and August. This park also features some dramatic rice paddy art which can be viewed in summer and autumn from an observation tower.
- The city of Gyoda was once a major manufacturer of two-toed tabi socks, which are worn with kimono. Many of the old tabi warehouses have been preserved and converted into shops and cafes and there is a “Tabi and Lifestyle Museum” where you can see how tabi socks are made and have a pair of socks made specially for you.
Train fare: 970 yen
Train time: 59 minutes
The main attraction in Kumagaya is the Menuma Shodenzan Temple which was first established in the 12th century. The current buildings date from the 17th century and feature elaborate and colorful carvings. One famous carving shows an eagle rescuing a monkey from a waterfall and is believed to be by the artist Hidari Jingoro who also carved the three monkeys in Nikko. Kumagaya also hosts a major summer festival every July 20th to 22nd called Uchiwa Matsuri, or paper fan festival.
Transfers can be made here to the Joetsu Shinkansen, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and the Chichibu Main Line.
Train fare: 1,140 yen
Train time: 64 minutes
Transfer here to JR East’s Hachiko Line.
Train fare: 1,940 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 42 minutes
Takasaki’s top attraction is a giant statue of the Goddess of Mercy called the Byakue Dai-Kannon. You can actually climb to the top of this 41.8 meter high statue to take in the view of the entire city. Also in Takasaki is the Gunma Museum of Modern Art which has a fine collection of classical Japanese and Chinese art, and also displays more contemporary Japanese and Western art which includes paintings, textiles and calligraphy. The museum building is a modernist structure designed by the architect, Arata Isozaki. Takasaki is famous for the production of “Daruma” tumbling dolls and a large Daruma doll market is held at Shorinzan Darumaji Temple every January 6th and 7th. This temple also has a large collection of Daruma dolls on permanent display. The remaining structures of the 15th century Takasaki Castle are located just 14 minutes’ walk from Takasaki Station and are worth a look if you have the time.
The city of Takasaki is close to the popular scenic locations of Mount Haruna and Lake Haruna. The 1,449 meter high mountain is famous for its perfectly symmetrical shape. A ropeway leads to the top of the mountain, and visitors can enjoy hiking, boating activities on the lake, or visit ancient Haruna Jinja Shrine which dates from 586. Harunako Onsen Yusuge is a popular hot spring resort hotel with rooms overlooking the lake. To get to Mount Haruna you can take a Gunma Bus service from Takasaki Station to Harunako-machi. The journey takes around 90 minutes and costs 1,310 yen.
Transfers can be made at Takasaki Station to JR East’s Agatsuma Line, Hachiko Line, Joetsu Line, and Ryomo Line. Transfers can also be made here to the Joetsu Shinkansen, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and the Joshin Electric Railway Line.
Train fare: 1,940 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 48 minutes
To plan your journey via the Takasaki Line use English language route finders like the Japan Transit Planner or Hyperdia. JR East has a PDF route map of their railway network in which the Takasaki Line is numbered 18.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.