This post may contain affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you..
Japan has an excellent rail network with trains running across the country from Kagoshima in the south to Hokkaido in the north. Stations throughout Japan come in unique and impressive designs and are popular with tourists and locals alike. However, did you know that Japan is also home to a variety of special trains that have gained popularity in recent years due to their cool or cute designs? Japanese trains evolve in their own way, with nostalgic retro designs and Japanese characters and mascots. In this article, we are going to introduce you to some special Japanese trains that are sure to blow your mind and make you want to ride all of them, whether you are a train fan or not!
JR Kyushu’s strain “Aso-Boy!” it operates between Kumamoto and Beppu and is especially fun for those traveling with children. The interior of the train is bright and carriage 1 has panoramic seats that make you feel like a train conductor. Car 3 is equipped with parent-child seats where everyone can enjoy the spectacular nature of Kyushu through the large windows. There is also a ball pit inside this car, which is great fun for small children. Between Akamizu and Miyaji, the train crosses the caldera of Mount Aso offering a truly unique experience.
Official website (Japanese): Aso-Boy!
“Setsugekka” is a tourist train that runs in the Niigata area of Joetsu Prefecture, allowing passengers to fully enjoy the natural scenery of the sea and mountains. The train is divided into two cars, both of which have extra-large windows to allow passengers an unobstructed view of the beauty of Niigatala from their seats. Plus, this train serves exceptional meals that you won’t want to miss. The French bento Created by a local 2-Michelin-star chef from the city of Tokamachi, box is a deluxe lunch prepared with plenty of fresh, local ingredients. It is the perfect train ride for those who want to enjoy the scenery of Niigata with a sense of grandeur.
Official site: Setsugekka
3. Sagano Romantic Train
The “Romantic Sagano Train” runs between Kameoka and Arashiyama, one of the most famous tourist spots in Kyoto. This train can be enjoyed during all four seasons: cherry blossoms in spring, fresh greenery in summer, autumn leaves in autumn, and snow in winter. The train travels from Kameoka to Arashiyama in 25 minutes, and you can admire the nature of Hozugawa Valley from inside the train. The fifth carriage of this train is an open carriage with no windows, making it the ideal carriage for summer as you can enjoy the fresh air. If you’re coming to Kyoto for sightseeing, why not add the enchanting “Sagano Romantic Train” to your itinerary?
Official website: Sagano Romantic Train
4. fifty-two seats of happiness
The mysteriously named “fifty-two places of happiness” is, as its name suggests, a tourist train that offers 52 seats and a pleasurable experience. This train is operated by Seibu Railway with the concept of “traveling restaurant”. It runs between Ikebukuro and Seibu-Chichibu and between Shinjuku and Seibu-Chichibu, making it an easy train to catch from Tokyo. Lunches and dinners are offered to passengers during their trip. The menu changes every three months, so you can try a different meal every time you go out. By reservation, this train is also available for weddings and private tours, making it a great option for special occasions.
Official Site: Fifty Two Seats of Happiness
5. Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine, operated by Oigawa Railway, is a train that runs between Shinkanaya Station and Senzu Station in Shizuoka Prefecture. Thomas the Tank Engine is an original British railway cartoon, and now Thomas has come to Shizuoka Prefecture from the Island of Sodor! Inside the train, there are many special experiences for Thomas the Tank fans, including Thomas the Tank merchandise for sale and train announcements made by Thomas on behalf of the train crew. A lunch box made in collaboration with Thomas the Tank is also available in front of Plaza Loco at Shinkanaya Station. Enjoy the nature and nostalgia of Thomas the Tank in Shizuoka Prefecture together!
Official Site: Thomas the Tank Engine
6. Aru Resha
One of the most popular tourist trains in Hakata is “Aru Ressha” (或る列車) of JR Kyushu. The story behind the creation of the “Aru Ressha” is that the former Kyushu Railway Company ordered a luxury train from an American railway company in 1906, but the train never saw the day because the Kyushu Railway was later nationalized. A century later, “Aru Ressha” finally debuted in the summer of 2015! Starting from Fukuoka, this luxury train will take you to Yufuin, which is very famous for its exceptional hot springs. Meals on board are not to be missed as the cuisine, using local Kyushu ingredients, is simply outstanding. Enjoy a luxurious train ride through Kyushu aboard the “Aru Ressha”!
Official website: Aru Rescha
7. Pokémon with you Train
Pokemon lovers everywhere unite! You can enjoy a unique train ride with everyone’s favorite Pikachu in the Tohoku region! The “Pokémon with YOU Train” runs between Ichinoseki and Kesennuma and is overloaded with Pikachu inside and out. This train is so cute that you will definitely want to take some photos in front of it! In addition to Pikachu, several other Pokémon lurk around the train, so go look for Pokémon and try to spot them all during the journey. A trip with the “Pokémon Train with You” is sure to become an unforgettable memory!
Official site: Pokémon with you Train
A cute bullet train dressed in pink ribbons!? Yes, it is “Hello Kitty Shinkansen”, created in collaboration with Sanrio’s Hello Kitty. This special shinkansen operates in western Japan between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. Each car has a different Hello Kitty design and the carpets inside are pink and decorated with ribbons. It’s a bullet train brimming with kawaii culture that fans of the adorable cat will love. Hop aboard this train for a unique journey through western Japan with Hello Kitty!
Official Site: Hello Kitty Shinkansen
9. Train Suite Shiki-shima
“Train Suite Shiki-shima” is the train to take if you want to experience the highest level of attentive service in luxury train travel. They provide train itineraries for one-night or two-night trips, and you can enjoy delicious meals during your trip aboard the “Train Suite Shiki-shima”. Shiki-shima suites and deluxe suites in the area of car 7 are equipped with a hinoki cypress bathroom, and guests can relax in the tub while enjoying the fragrant wood. For those who want to experience the ultimate in hospitality, “Train Suite Shiki-shima” is the perfect choice.
Official Site: Train Suite Shiki-shima
10. MIZUKAZE TWILIGHT EXPRESS
We saved one of the best ones for last: the “TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE” is a luxury train that offers overnight trips where passengers can enjoy delicious meals prepared by a top chef. Operating in western Japan, “TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE” travels to various tourist spots in a few different regions. Coach 5 lounge is also a place to relax and meet other passengers, with concerts, tea ceremonies and other events taking place there. For an overnight train travel experience that offers the utmost in luxury and comfort, we highly recommend the “TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE”!
Official Site: MIZUKAZE TWILIGHT EXPRESS
In this article, we present 10 special Japanese trains with different concepts and designs, but which one is on your to-do list? Japanese railway companies are constantly striving to attract more people, so we’re sure to see even more special trains in the years to come! Some trains require reservations, so be sure to check the official site well in advance. Enjoy Japan from the seat of your favorite special train on your next visit!
Japan Merveille Voyage is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious food tours, we can help you put together the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and stories of each region you visit, our knowledgeable and friendly English-speaking guides will be happy to take you to the best places!
Also, we can provide any assistance you may need for your next trip to Japan, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need help!
▶Tokyo Highlights Full Day Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There is no better way to explore an area than on a guided tour with an expert local guide. You’ll have the chance to learn about Tokyo’s interesting history and background, as well as discover hidden gems that can be difficult to do without a guide.
▶Kyoto Full Day Private Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you can see the highlights of Kyoto in a single day while also developing a deeper understanding of both the culture of the region and of Japan as a whole.
If you want to make your trip easier, we suggest looking for packages. There is a wide range of packages to meet the needs of every traveler. Click the button below to find the best tour package among the various tour operators!
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TIC Tac for more travel inspiration. Or tag us to be featured!
Good trip !