Among Railroad fans in Japan, Doai station is well known as “the molestation”.
Why “mole”? It is because the platform of the station (to the direction of Niigata prefecture, Nagaoka or Echigo-Yuzawa) is literally located deep in the underground, 70 meters from the surface (the station building) in the middle of Shin-Shimizu tunnel penetrating through Mikuni Mountains.
Well, in the 21st century that subway (or tube) is ubiquitously available in many cities globally. In Tokyo, for example, we have 13 lines carrying almost 10 million passengers every day.
What is so special about Doai station? The underground platform is nothing special nowadays from that point of view.
The answer is stairs! To get to the platform, you have no other way to go down approximately 500 steps of stairs from the ticket gate (the station is unmanned, so nobody cautions you what will happen to get to the platform…). What about elevator or escalator? There is no such user-friendly device of the modern times. That also means you are expected to climb up the stairs to go back to where you started. I should say Doai station is a totally unfriendly facility for anybody having a difficulty in climbing the stairs or any sort of “phobia” for stairs.
If you go there and look down to the stairs, you may wonder where you end up arriving even if you simply wish to reach the platform. You must remember the average number of passengers using this station per day is only 20 recently, also the number of trains stopping Doai station is exactly 5 trains per day, so you have a fair chance to be the lonely stranger (or adventurer) who attempts “Journey to the Center of the Earth” bravely. Frequent time checking is highly advisable not to miss the train!
The platform in the reverse direction (Minakami, or Takasaki, eventually to Tokyo) is peacefully located on the surface of the ground and you can enjoy viewing Mikuni mountains including Tanigawadake mountain that many alpinists hope to challenge.
One more useful note. There is no convenience store or anything in that nature around the Doai-station, but “Tanigawadake-Drive-in” is just a few minutes’ walk from station building (not from the underground platform of course). You can have a meal or buy local souvenirs there.