Top Trains in Japan


2018.06.21

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Need a break from the city? Instead of taking an overnight highway bus or the crowded bullet train, check out the resort trains, which run on all rail lines, both urban and rural. These luxury train rides are slower than the bullet train but offer unparalleled scenery and exceptional service. Dine on world-class meals, enjoy countryside views, and indulge in the journey before the vacation truly starts.

  • 01

    Izu Craile

    Izu Craile

    Izu Craile

    The Izu Craile travels from Odawara to the Izukyu Shimoda, along the coastline of the Izu Peninsula. Each compartment of the four-car train offers seaside views. Seasonal lunch boxes are prepared by Akimoto Sakura, the head of Meguro’s Morceau, an upscale French restaurant. The journey lasts about two hours, which is ample time for eating lunch and enjoying the scenery of the small beach towns. A band plays live music in the lounge car, creating an ethereal atmosphere alongside the ocean-filled windows. The exterior of the train is painted in blush, giving it a distinct appearance from other resort trains. The Izu Craile is in the lineup of JR’s Joyful trains, a series of themed trains designed to put fun and art into everyday train travel.

  • 02

    SL C571

    SL C571

    SL C571

    Take a trip back in time on a restored steam locomotive. The 63 kilometer journey between Shin Yamaguchi station and Tsuwano station takes about two hours. The train was originally made in 1937 and has been carefully restored for the public; it is perfect for recreating a Showa era experience. There are four cars on the train and each compartment depicts a different era or theme in Japanese history. Check out the viewing car for undisturbed pastoral views of Shimane. The exterior of the train is as intricately designed as the interior. The shiny, black shell of the outside is so well known that travelers on other station platforms treat the train like a celebrity, waving and taking pictures of its passengers.

  • 03

    Fujisan View Express

    Fujisan View Express

    Fujisan View Express

    What’s a trip to Japan without a view of the prodigious Mt. Fuji? The Fujisan View Express is the best way to access Mt. Fuji for those looking for a scenic experience and for those looking to climb the colossus. This ruby train travels from Otsuki station near Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko station. The Fujisan View differs from the regular Fujikyu trains, as it offers a luxury hotel-like feel and gourmet sweets representing the Yamanashi region. For an extra fee, Car #1 offers a Sweets Plan, an assortment of Japanese-style sweets arranged by the pastry chef of Highland Resort Hotel in nearby Fujikyu Highland. The interior of the train was designed by Japan’s most sought-out designer, Eiji Mitooka, who chose a wooden, Western design to create a hospitable atmosphere for gazing out the window.

  • 04

    Revaty Line

    Revaty Line

    Revaty Line

    Traveling to Fukushima in the winter? Be sure to ride the Revaty line, traveling from Tokyo’s Asakusa station to Aizu via the Tobu line. The line is very convenient and can also be boarded from Skytree or Nikko. The train travels through mountains and forests, offering views of steaming onsen villages and winter festivals. The cars are comfortable and offer free Wi-Fi, perfect for getting work done or sharing pictures of the snowy view.

  • 05

    Rikuu East Line

    Rikuu East Line

    Rikuu East Line

    The Naruko Gorge is one of the finest spots in Japan for taking in the fall foliage. The best view is from the Ofukazawa bridge. The local train that runs on these famous train tracks over the bridge is used to reach the trailhead of the gorge. The train runs from Furukawa station, accessed by the JR Sendai, and JR Naruko-Onsen station. The journey lasts about 40 minutes and is a good opportunity to sit back and enjoy the autumnal scenery from inside.

  • 06

    The Resort Shirakami Limited Express

    The Resort Shirakami Limited Express

    The Resort Shirakami Limited Express

    The Resort Shirakami Limited Express is a special edition of the JR East Gono line that runs between Aomori station and Akita station. The five-hour journey offers vast views of the Sea of Japan on one side, and undisturbed greenery and rural villages on the other. The train makes a few stops, letting passengers stretch their legs and explore the local towns. There are also live performances of tsugaru jamisen, a traditional instrument used in what is considered Japanese soul music. The instrument originated from Aomori and is played by local musicians throughout the train journey.

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