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5 Unusual Japanese Trains, from a Foot Bath Train to a Cat Train and More!

When on vacation, the long time spent traveling from place to place can be a pain. However, all over Japan there are many trains with unique charms that can actually make traveling the very purpose of the trip! Here is a special selection of 5 of them.

1. Toreiyu Tsubasa

The Toreiyu Tsubasa, which connects the Fukushima prefecture with the Yamagata prefecture, is a resort train where guests can enjoy a train ride that feels like a stroll in a hot spring district. Its biggest charm is the possibility to enjoy ashiyu (a simple bathing method where only feet are submerged in hot water) while observing the scenery out of the windows. Inside the train there are two luxurious deep red bathtubs and, after purchasing the ashiyu coupon (350 JPY), it is possible to leisurely use them for 15 minutes. After the ashiyu you can relax in the adjacent carriage called "post-bath lounge", a room that maintains the traditional atmosphere of Japanese architecture with a tatami mat room and cherry wood tables. Here it is possible to buy Yamagata local sake, wine, fruit juice, and so forth at their bar counter.
It is recommended to use this train while visiting Yamagata's hot springs, like the Zao Onsen or the Ginzan Onsen.

*Please check the official homepage for more details on the service.

1. Toreiyu Tsubasa

1-1 Sakae-machi, Fukushima-shi, Fukushima

2. TAMADEN

The Wakayama Electric Railway Kishigawa Line has risen to fame overnight thanks to its station master, a calico cat named Tama. Running on this local line from 2009 is the TAMADEN train, which takes its name from the first generation cat station master. The white body of the train is dotted with 101 cute illustrations ofTama, and even its interior is designed to remind one of the colors of a calico cat. It is a train that you will definitely want to hop on if you are a fan of Tama or even just a cat lover. The 2nd generation station master, Tama the 2nd, is on duty at the Kishigawa Station, the departure stop, while another station master, Tama the 4th, works in the intermediate Idakiso Station and everyone can go meet them! If you plan on getting off the train in the middle of the trip, it is cheaper to buy the one-day ticket, which can be used unlimited times during the day (Adults 780 JPY, Children 390 JPY).

2. TAMADEN

73 Idakiso, Wakayama-shi, Wakayama

3. Tango Kuro-Matsu

A luxurious dining train that uses "a dining room that runs through 'Kyoto by the sea'" as its concept. The train offers a wide variety of courses according to the season, including a "Sweets" course, a "Lunch" course, and a "Horoyoi (tipsy)" course. Here, it is possible to taste dishes and sweets made using plenty of ingredients from the local area of Tango while gazing at the scenery outside of the windows, changing from the sea to a tranquil rural landscape. Another point worthy of note is the outstanding design of the train wagons, with golden and deep red lines giving a luxurious feel to their jet-black exterior and an interior with a modern Japanese design created using a sumptuous amount of natural wood and decorated with a beautifully enchanting pine tree motif. Trains arrive and depart from the Amanohashidate Station, which is one of the Top Three Views of Japan, so it is recommended to visit it on the same day.

*The train route is different for each course. Please check the official homepage for all the details.

3. Tango Kuro-Matsu

314-2 Aza Monju, Miyazu-shi, Kyoto

4. THE ROYAL EXPRESS

A sightseeing train in Izu that runs through Yokoyama and Izukyu-Shimoda. Luxury is brought to the extreme inside this train, in an extravagant and dazzling carriage that could be mistaken for a high class hotel. In Platinum Class guests can enjoy themselves in full comfort surrounded by the highest grade facilities, like seats decorated with the traditional technique of kumiko and the stained glass ceiling. Meals are accompanied by a violin and piano live performance and guests can enjoy a set menu with dishes made with fresh seafood and vegetables from Izu. The Gold Class is especially recommended for families, it contains all sorts of entertainments for adults and kids, like a pool filled with wooden balls and a picture book library. Even if it is a little expensive, it is definitely worth the price. An out-of-the-ordinary world is waiting for you.

*Boarding plans including meals Platinum Class: Adult 35,000 JPY (incl. tax), Gold Class: Adult 25,000 JPY (incl. tax)

4. THE ROYAL EXPRESS

1-6-1 Higashi Hongo, Shimoda-shi, Shizuoka

5. Kotatsu Train

The Sanriku Railway runs up and down the rias coastline of Iwate Prefecture. A landscape of precipitous cliffs and deep blue sea that takes one's breath away for its tremendous beauty can be observed from the windows of the trains of this line. Here, during winter, one can ride the Kotatsu Train. As its name suggests, the Kotatsu Train is an unusual train where guests can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Sanriku Coast while warming up under a kotatsu (a table covered by a duvet and with a heater underneath where people can cover their legs and keep warm, indispensable for the Japanese winter). The train runs slowly or stops for a moment near places with a particularly nice view, so it is possible to take perfect photos.
Sweets or a seafood lunch box made with seafood from the Sanriku area, including sea urchin, abalone, and Japanese scallop (from 1200 JPY), can be reserved and enjoyed in the train.

*The boarding fare changes depending on the length of the trip (e.g. from Kuji to Miyako, one way 1,850 JPY), reserved seat fee 300 JPY
*Please check the official homepage for more details on the service.

5. Kotatsu Train

4 Sakae-cho, Miyako-shi, Iwate

Did any of these catch your eye? Ride one of these trains to make some Japan memories not only in the final destination of the trip, but also during the traveling time.

*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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