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Saturday 8 October 2022

Take the Sake Train for a different rail journey

Wine lovers visiting Japan might want to put aside time to travel on the Sake Train.

The Koshino Shu*Kura is a special train operated by JR East that travels around Niigata prefecture, a region famous for sake (Japanese rice wine).

The train is one of a group of so-called “joyful trains”, which encompass a variety of themes and often feature rides through beautiful parts of the countryside.

Koshino Shu*Kura stops at different spots where sake breweries are located.

Included in the journey is an onboard sake tasting, featuring rice wines that have been locally sourced, together with a variety of snacks that are typical to the west Tohoku region.

Groups can enjoy tasting flights, or buy whole bottles.

The train consists of three cars, each with a different interior.

Train car 1:
Called the observation deck, this train car was built with special wide windows to enjoy the view to the max. There are special seating arrangements that can set up to six people together, great for families travelling together.

Train car 2:
This is the event space, with standing tables for sake tasting and room for music and dance performances.

Train car 3:
This train car is filled with traditional reclining seats and an open space used to chat and hang out with other passengers.
The Koshino Shu*Kura runs on three routes, each with their own name. The traditional Koshino Shu*Kura: is the name of the service that runs between Jōetsumyōkō station and Tōkamachi station.

Yuzawa Shu*Kura service runs between Jōetsumyōkō station and the winter resort of town of Yuzawa with its terminus at Echigo-Yuzawa station, while Ryuto Shu*Kura is in service between Jōetsumyōkō and Niigata station.

The train is covered by the JR Pass and onboard drinks and food are available at extra cost. Reservations are required and are recommended at least three days in advance.

I've added this to my "to do" list next time I am in Japan.   

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