An Illustrated Guide to Train Journey’s Trains
Between Fukushima and Yamagata/Shinjo
“Toreiyu Tsubasa,” the first Shinkansen car to be installed with a foot bath, made its debut on the section of the Yamagata Shinkansen (Ou Main Line) that runs between Fukushima and Shinjo. With Mount Gassan, which stands tall within central Yamagata, as its motif, the car sports a broad, circular design. In addition to its theme color of green to denote Mount Gassan, the car has also been coated with blue reminiscent of the Mogami River, another symbol of Yamagata Prefecture, as well as a crisp shade of white that envelops the entire car. Based on the Yamagata themes of “Food (as in the variety of foodstuffs created from the blessings of the sun),” “hot springs,” “history and culture” and “nature,” the car’s interior invites passengers to go on a journey while making them feel like they are taking a stroll through a hot springs retreat. Everything passengers will expect to find at a resort, they’ll find inside this train that promises exciting travel.
By virtue of its car formation, this special train car offers gorgeous scenic views from its windows, seasonal tastes from Yamagata, foot baths and local Japanese sake to make for an experience removed from daily reality. Car No. 11 on the side facing towards Fukushima offers standard reserved seating fitted with reclining seats. Cars No. 12 through 14 offer Japanese-style reserved seating (in a conversation room setting) to enable passengers to enjoy their travel time in elegant surroundings. Car No. 15 supplies a lounge for passengers to enjoy a relaxing moment after they have taken a foot bath (in a room setting that lets passengers interact with new things and people). Lastly, Car No. 16 allows passengers to soak their feet in a foot bath while gazing upon the scenery outside (in a relaxation room setting). Foot bath ticket of Car No. 16 is basically available for the passengers who purchased JR EAST VIEW Travel package tour.
The base of this train is an E3-series six-car train noted for its use on the Akita Shinkansen. The front of the train is colored blue to symbolize the Mogami River. The side of the train sports a design made up of green to symbolize Mount Gassan and crisp white to indicate Mount Zao.
The name “Toreiyu” lovingly given to this train is a play on the words “train” in English and “soleil,” or “sun,” in French. A logo symbolizing both can be found on two spots on the side of the car.
Two rows of two reclining seats equipped with movable pillows line this car. These seats have a broad pitch to enable passengers to stretch their legs and comfortably enjoy the scenery outside.
These cars have been prepared with large birch wood tables and spacious tatami straw-mat seating. Reliefs themed after fruits found in Yamagata Prefecture can be found on the ceiling and on the back plates of the seats.
In this lounge car, passengers will find tatami straw-mat seating, tables made with real cherry tree wood, safflower-colored bar counters, and OLED-panel cabinets. Plaster-finish walls and stone-paved pathways decorate this place of passenger interaction.
Two tanks have been placed between hot water enclosed by black fence-like sidewalls and wooden louvers. Passengers in this car can relax their feet in a safflower-colored foot tub filled with hot water as they enjoy the landscape that passes them outside.
A hot springs facility that adjoins the station building at Takahata Station on the JR Ou Main Line, one of the stops on the Yamagata Shinkansen. The station building has been designed with the world of children’s author Hirosuke Hamada in mind.
The numerous hot springs in the City of Kaminoyama, including those at Shinyu, Yumachi and Hayama, are collectively referred to as the “Kaminoyama Hot Springs.” Kaminoyama contains five richly-unique foot bath locations that provide both relaxation and top-down views of the Mount Zao mountain range and the city area.
A city park in the former site of Yamagata Castle, which is situated practically in the center of Yamagata’s urban district. Located within and nearby the park are the Yamagata Kyodokan, the Yamagata Prefectural Museum, the Mogami Yoshiaki Historical Museum, and other cultural facilities.
In this customary event of the City of Tendo held in late April every year, matches of shogi, or Japanese chess, take place with participants dressed up as Japanese warriors and female servants used as the game pieces while the 2,000 or so cherry blossom trees that surround them bloom profusely on Mount Maizuru.
This hot springs area contains rows of Western-style wooden multistory lodges built between the end of the Taisho period and onset of the Showa period on both sides of the Ginzan River. These lodges ensure that the atmosphere unique to such an old-fashioned hot springs area endures today.
Yonezawa Beef is a special brand of beef selected from among Japanese black cattle raised in three cities and five towns in the Okitama region based on a fixed set of standards. Certain eating establishments and hotels within the city offer Yonezawa Beef and its unique, unmistakable taste.
Text and photos by: Yoshiyuki Kekke, traveloguer
Certain photos courtesy of: JR East/Kotsu Shimbun Service/Yamagata Prefectural Government
*Data contained above is as of April 2015.