The line was opened in 1897 by the Chūetsu Railway (中越鉄道?) as the Chūetsu Line (中越線?) between Fushiki (on the present-day Himi Line) and Jōhana via Takaoka. The line was nationalised on 1 September 1920. The Chūetsu Line was renamed the Jōhana Line from 1 August 1942 following the incorporation of the Fushiki to Takaoka section into the Himi Line.
CTC signalling was commissioned over the entire line in 1983.
Fukuno Station: The Tonami Railway opened a 7 km line to Tsuzawa in 1915, including a connection to the Hokuriku Main Line at Isurugi. The company merged with the Kaetsu Railway in 1919, which extended the line 13 km to Shogawa-Cho in 1922. The line closed in 1972.