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Travel in Luxury! Five Select Tourist Trains in Japan

Trains are an indispensable mode of transportation in Japan, and there are many tourist trains that are an experience in and of themselves with luxury carriages, special menus and other services. Here are five recommended trains.

1. JR KYUSHU SWEET TRAIN "ARU RESSHA"

Brill Passenger Car for Kyushu Railway was a phantom luxury passenger car that was ordered from J. G. Brill Company of the United States In 1906 by Kyushu Railway (now JR Kyushu) but never put into service. This luxury passenger car has been resurrected as ARU RESSHA, a "sweets train" from which you can enjoy sweets while watching the scenery pass by. The food and sweets made using local Kyushu ingredients is so beautiful you may hesitate to eat it. With compartments surrounded by walnut kumiko lattice-work made without nails and walls with stained glass panels, the interior is so gorgeous it is hard to believe it is a train. The train runs on either an Oita course or a Nagasaki course depending on the time of year. This is a train ride for anyone who wants to take a fantastically luxurious trip.

*Please refer to the official homepage for details including the schedule.

1. JR KYUSHU SWEET TRAIN "ARU RESSHA"

3-25-21 Hakata Ekimae, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka

2. Tango Kuro-matsu

This is a luxury restaurant train that serves food made using carefully selected local ingredients from along the Kyoto Tango Railway lines under the concept of "the mobile dining room of 'Kyoto of the Sea.'" It runs on Fridays, weekends, and holidays, and offers a sweets course, a lunch course, and a local sake course. The carriages, designed to represent pine trees, have a sophisticated, jet black exterior with gold and red lines and an interior filled with wood with special attention paid to details, such as windows with Kyo-sudare bamboo screens (fine sudare-screens made by connecting thin strips of bamboo with strings). You will find yourself in another world the moment you step onto the train. Why not treat yourself to a blissful time enjoying the changing landscape of the beautiful ocean, gentle mountains, and peaceful rural landscape outside your window?

*Each course is offered on a different route. Please refer to the official homepage for details.

2. Tango Kuro-matsu

3-2 Otemachi, Toyooka-shi, Hyogo

3. Koshino Shu*Kura

This is a "sake" train that runs between Joetsumyoko Station, Nagaoka Station and Tokamachi Station in Niigata, an area famous for its local sake. The train has three cars, and the first car is reserved for JR East Japan's "View" travel packages. On it, you will receive Shu*Kura's original bento box "Mizuto Daichino Okurimono" (gift of water and land) and a gift of two bottles of local sake, sake cup, and kinchaku bag (a traditional Japanese small bag made of cloth or leather tied with drawstrings). The third car is for the general public, and although there are no gifts, local sake is served as welcome drinks. The second car is an event space that hosts live bands and sake-related events and has a kiosk where you can purchase local sake and snacks. There is also a sake tasting (for a fee) corner where you can try five different local sake, so it's a train no sake lover will want to miss.

*Please refer to the official homepage for details including the schedule.

"Mizuto Daichino Okurimono," the original dish served in the first car.

3. Koshino Shu*Kura

5-192 Yamato, Joetsu-shi, Niigata

4. SL Ginga

This is a tourist train that runs between Hanamaki Station and Ishinomaki Station in Iwate that was started to support the restoration of tourism in the Tohoku region, as well as to help revitalize the local community. A locomotive that was specially restored after 40 years pulls a train designed to represent the world of "Night on the Galactic Railroad," a major novel by Kenji Miyazawa, a poet and author of children's literature from Iwate. The blue train decorated with constellations and animals from the novel represents the sky transforming from the dark night into morning. The interior was designed to evoke the 1920's and 1930's, when Miyazawa was active, and has a retro feel with lamps made to look like gas lights, stained-glass style lighting fixtures, and Nambu ironware (cast ironware made primarily in Morioka) style shelves. The train has a small planetarium, exhibits on the moon and stars, and a gallery of Kenji Miyazawa works so the long trip will pass by before you know it.

*Please refer to the official homepage for details including the schedule.

4. SL Ginga

1-1-43-2 Ekimaeodori, Hanamaki-shi, Iwate

5. Limited Express Yufuin no Mori

This resort train, which connects Hakata in Fukuoka to one of Japan's foremost onsen hot spring areas, Yufuin and Beppu, started in 1989 as a pioneer tourist train, of which there are many today. The moss green exterior and the modern interior filled with the warmth of wood will put you in vacation mode the moment you step on. It is a comfortable, tall train with wonderful views from the windows! Items such as bento boxes made with local ingredients, soy ice cream from the popular tofu restaurant in Yufuin, Yufuin Ichinoza, and Yufuin cider are sold on board so you can enjoy local gourmet. The free Wi-Fi on board is a bonus for travelers.

*Please refer to the official homepage for details including the schedule.

5. Limited Express Yufuin no Mori

1-1 Hakataekichuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka

If you are traveling, you may as well enjoy the process too. Tourist trains are the answer to your desires, so take advantage of them and create wonderful memories from your trip.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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