San'yō Railway

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Sanyō Railway
Locale Japan
Dates of operation 1888–1906
Successor JGR
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Length 667.7 km (414.9 mi) (1906)
Headquarters Kobe

The Sanyō Railway (山陽鉄道?, San'yō-tetsudō) was established in 1887 and served as a major railroad company during the Meiji period in Japan. The railroad was headquartered in Kobe, and Nakamigawa Hikojirō served as head of the railroad.[1]

Rail lines[edit]

The first rail line opened in 1888. By 1894, the Sanyō Railway had been extended west, along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, from Kobe to Hiroshima.[2] The railroad was later extended to Shimonoseki. The Sanyō Main Line connected with the Tōkaidō Main Line in Kobe, and the Kyūshū Railway at Moji. The railway gained a reputation for being one of the most progressive and innovative in Japan in its day, introducing the first sleeping cars, dining cars, and electric lighting on its trains.[3] In 1904, the 530 km (330 mile) trip from Kobe to Shimonoseki took 11 hours.[4] An express train from Kobe to Hiroshima took 812 hours, travelling 304 km (189 miles).[5]

Railway operation of Sanyō Railway as of November 30, 1906[6]
Endpoints Length
Line names
(designated after nationalization)
KōbeShimonoseki 530.0 329.3 Sanyō Main Line
Himeji – Shikama 5.6 3.5 Bantan Line
HimejiWadayama 65.8 40.9 Bantan Line
AsaŌmine 19.6 12.2 Mine Line
HyōgoWadamisaki 2.9 1.8 Sanyō Main Line (Wadamisaki Line)
TakamatsuKotohira 43.8 27.2 Yosan Line
Subtotal 676.7 414.9
KaitaichiKure 20.0 12.4 Kure Line Leased from Government Railways
Hiroshima – Ujina 6.0 3.7 Ujina Line Leased from Army
Total 693.7 414.9


Sanyō also operated steamship service, from Shimonoseki to Busan in Korea.[7] Sanyō Railway also operated a ferry from Miyajimaguchi Station, which opened on September 25, 1897, to Itsukushima (Miyajima).


The railroad was nationalized in 1906, under the Railway Nationalization Act, becoming the San'yō Main Line.


  1. ^ Yui, Tsunehiko (Spring 1970). "The Personality and Career of Hikojiro Nakamigawa, 1887–1901". The Business History Review. 44 (1): 39–61. doi:10.2307/3112589. 
  2. ^ Kosaikai, Yoshiteru (2007). "History of Hiroshima". Hiroshima Peace Reader. Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. 
  3. ^ Free, Early Japanese Railways 1853–1914: Engineering Triumphs That Transformed Meiji-era Japan, Tuttle Publishing, 2008 (ISBN 4805310065)
  4. ^ Nippon Yusen Kaisha (1904). Handbook of Information for Shippers and Passengers. Nippon Yusen Kaisha. 
  5. ^ Chamberlain, Basil Hall ,W. B. Mason (1899). A Handbook for Travellers in Japan: Including the Whole Empire from Yezo to Formosa. Kelly & Walsh. 
  6. ^ Ishino, Tetsu et al. (eds.) (1998). 停車場変遷大事典 国鉄・JR編 [Station Transition Directory - JNR/JR] (in Japanese). I. Tokyo: JTB Corporation. p. 331. ISBN 4533029809. 
  7. ^ Mason, Herbert B. (1908). Encyclopaedia of Ships and Shipping. The Shipping Encyclopedia.