HIGASHI-AGATSUMA, Gunma - A large number of railway enthusiasts have been visiting Japan's shortest railway tunnel in Gunma Prefecture as it will permanently close from Wednesday due to a route change resulting from the planned construction of the Yamba Dam nearby.
Under the construction plan for the dam, the 7.2-meter-long Tarusawa Tunnel of the JR Agatsuma Line in Higashi-Agatsuma of the prefecture will not be submerged even after the dam is completed. But, a six-kilometer section of the line close to the tunnel is set to be underwater, and the new route will not pass through the tunnel.
The Agatsuma Line started operation in 1945 as the Naganohara Line. Higashi-Agatsuma has been advertising the tunnel with a sign calling it "the shortest railway tunnel in Japan," promoting it as a tourist spot together with Agatsumakyo valley, a government-designated place of scenic beauty along the Agatsumagawa river.