A Closer Look at the Newest JR Kyushu Trains

ByJustin Hanus
Jul 19, 2022

A Closer Look at the Newest JR Kyushu Trains

The JR Kyushu trains used to be a group of eight sightseeing trains that took passengers on journeys across Kyushu in a way that allowed them to experience the island’s beautiful scenery fully. In recent years, the opportunities to ride a “Design & Story Train” has grown. By the end of 2022, there will be 11 trains in the collection. Let’s take a look at what these newest additions bring.

36+3 (Sanju-Roku plus San)

A completely new journey is being offered by the 36+3. Its name comes from the fact that Kyushu is the 36th largest island in the world and that the train provides passengers with three things: surprise, impression, and happiness. Plus, 36 + 3 = 39, which is a number that in Japanese sounds similar to “thank you.”

The train runs several routes, although most start or end in Hakata. You can reserve a regular seat in cars 5 and 6 (car 6 has a tatami floor, meaning you’ll need to remove your shoes) or a seat with a lunch and dinner plan in cars 1 and 2. Car 3 has a bar, and car 4 contains the lounge where events on the train take place.

Aru Ressha

Meaning Train of Dreams, Aru Ressha is a train revived from old plans. Kyushu Railway purchased the luxury train from the J. G. Brill Company in 1906, but they never used the design because the railway was nationalized. Aru Ressha has been running since 2015, offering a round trip between Hakata and Yufuin.

The train is based on a model that Nobutaro Hara (of the HARA Model Railway Museum) created. The opulent interior features a romantic color palette, coffered ceiling, and traditional fabrics for the upholstery and carpets. Car 2 features private compartments, each for two passengers. Not only will you enjoy your time in the luxurious atmosphere, but the experience also includes a delicious meal using seasonal ingredients prepared by internationally-renowned chef Yoshihiro Narisawa.

Two Stars 4047

The newest addition to the JR Kyushu Railway is Two Stars 4047, which will only start operating in fall 2022. The round trip from Takeo-onsen to Nagasaki will allow passengers to see the sites of Western Kyushu. A lounge where passengers can purchase snacks and drinks will be between the two passenger cars.

There will be a few top sites to see on this trip. One is the Port of Nagasaki, which has historically been important for foreign trade — when it opened, it was the only connection between Japan and the outside world. Another is Omura Bay, also called the Koto Sea, because the sound the waves make when they hit the shore resembles the sounds of a musical instrument called a koto. Finally, you’ll see Ariake Bay, the largest sea in Kyushu.

All these trains only operate a few times a week on a limited schedule. To make sure you can travel the route and time you want, buy a ticket in advance from one of the JR Kyushu Travel Agency counters at any JR train station.

Rsa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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