The steam locomotive, Taiju, departs from Shimoimaichi Station in Nikko on Aug 10 after a ceremony to mark the return of steam power on Tobu Railway Co.'s Kinugawa Line. (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)

NIKKO, Tochigi Prefecture--The age of steam power returned to Nikko on Aug. 10, adding yet another charming aspect to this celebrated World Heritage sightseeing spot.

After a more than 50-year absence, a C11-207 locomotive, named Taiju, made the 12.4-kilometer run between Shimoimaichi Station and Kinugawa Onsen Station on Tobu Railway Co.’s Kinugawa Line in 35 minutes.

Among the crowd of excited fans who gathered in Nikko to witness the inauguration of the revived service was 12-year-old Masato Horiguchi from Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture.

“I could feel the power of a locomotive,” he said, with a huge grin. “Seeing and hearing it was so memorable.”

Tobu Railway ended runs by steam locomotives in 1966.

Hauling three modern-looking passenger cars, the train is scheduled to be in service for about 100 days during the current fiscal year, primarily on weekends.

The revival of steam power was made possible because Hokkaido Railway Co. and other railway companies across Japan collaborated in the project.