A hikyō station (秘境駅, hikyō eki), or "secluded station," is the name for those railway stations which are located off the beaten path and considered a place good for photographers and train fans seeking photos of historical trains and spectacular nature photos. The term originates in Japan and now is also used in other areas like Taiwan, especially among train fans. These hikyō stations tend to be located in secluded wilderness areas and mountain regions which have little in the way of human habitation.
Hikyō stations are generally located in areas that previously had a sizeable human population due to mountain climbing and related activities, but currently have very few inhabitants and houses. Because of this lack of population, the trains no longer make regular stops, and train and rail fans have adopted these as popular locations for visiting. Because of the lack of regular passenger custom, the stations see little use these days, and many are being considered for closure.
Beginning with the personal site of train enthusiast Takanobu Ushiyama, and a subsequent book published in 2001 by Shogakukan, the general awareness of these hikyō stations has increased. In 2004, a television program about hikyō stations aired on SkyPerfecTV's Travel Channel. Along with Hirohiko Yokomi's Tetsuko no Tabi manga, many of these stations were introduced to the public. Since Ushiyama's site and book were released, there has been an increase of graffiti and dangerous activities around train crossings and tunnels, in addition to the increase of regular passengers going to these stations. Ushiyama has mentioned on his site and in his book practically every news story and fact about the use of fire at places such as the railroad crossings and closed station buildings. After an incident which resulted in injuries at Hariusu Station (operated by JR Hokkaido), year-round service at that station was stopped. This also prompted an effort to deal with the security at these stations.
Even with these issues, there is still a steady, if small, stream of visitors to these hikyō stations. These visitors provide the liveliehood for those in these secluded and less well-known stations, despite any negative issues caused by a small number of accidents.