If you’re new to Japan, you may not know that there are all kinds of different trains. Today, we’re focusing on sightseeing trains, which offer luxury experiences such as meticulously-curated onboard meals, top-notch hospitality, and jaw-dropping views. The “Shikoku Tosa Toki no Yoakeno Monogatari” (Tale of the Dawn of an Era) train is no exception, and runs along the beautiful Pacific Ocean, crystal-clear Niyodo River, retro towns, and more
What’s special about sightseeing trains?
Trains are typically just means to get to your destination. However, sightseeing trains are attractions themselves! Oftentimes, they’ll also immerse you in the local culture and history through food, design, route, hospitality, etc.
How does this particular train immerse you in Kochi’s culture?
The onboard meals (which change every three months) showcase Kochi’s finest ingredients like katsuo (bonito), juicy Shimanto pork, a range of seasonal veggies, etc. What’s more, the meal on the Kochi-bound train is served in a bento box made of local Shimanto cypress wood. The coasters, lampshades and cup holders are also made with washi (traditional Japanese paper) from Ino Town where the craft has existed for more than one thousand years! There’s a Kochi-related story behind so many of the details. Along the way, locals and train staff will also welcome you with big smiles! This heart-warming interaction with the local community is certainly one of the most unforgettable aspects of riding this train.
What is the route and how long is the journey?
The train mainly runs between Kochi and Kubokawa stations mostly on Fridays and weekends, but please make sure to check the calendar on the official website (linked at the end). The one-way journey is approximately 2.5 hours.
How can I buy tickets?
All stations in the country operated by JR (Japan Railways) sell tickets at the special office called Midori-no-Madoguchi. You can also purchase tickets online. Note that you need three types of tickets to ride this train: 1) josha-ken (ticket to board the train), 2) tokkyu-ken (limited express ticket) and 3) Green Car (first-class) ticket. If you would like to dine onboard, you will also need to purchase a designated meal ticket.
What is the price?
The one-way ticket per adult (Kochi to Kubokawa) can range from 4,140 to 4,540 yen depending on the time of year (peak season costs an additional 400 yen). The full onboard meal is an extra 5,000 yen, which requires reservations in advance (please note that the ticket and meal prices are scheduled to change from October 1st. Check the official website linked at the end for updates).
Can I use a Japan Rail Pass?
If your Japan Rail Pass includes Green Car, you can ride this train with no extra charge (does not include onboard meals). If you have the standard Japan Rail Pass or ALL SHIKOKU Rail Pass, you don’t need the josha-ken, but you have to purchase the tokkyu-ken and Green Car ticket.
What other burning questions do you have about sightseeing trains? Let us know in the comments!