The 36+3 is a new luxury sightseeing train unveiled in Kyushu by Japan Railways that adds five new routes to Japan’s southernmost main island.
The number ‘36’ comes from Kyushu being the 36th largest island in the world. The number ‘3’ represents the railway company, Kyushu locals and customers coming together.
The jet-black refurbished 787 series electric train, has new interiors designed by the same designer as Kyushu’s famous Seven Stars sleeper train. The 36+3 train operates five different scenic routes throughout Kyushu running day tours around seven Kyushu prefectures: Oita, Miyazaki, Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki and Kagoshima.
The 36+3 train has six cars with 103 seats. All cars are first-class Green Cars with options for gourmet lunch and dinner menus featuring high-quality local cuisine. The six train cars blend classic Japanese and modern Western styles, including shoji screen doors and a special type of latticework called ‘Okawa Kumiko’, which comes from the island’s Fukuoka Prefecture.
In cars one and two, there are 13 private compartments outfitted with Western-style couches and tables that fit up to 6 people each. Car three is the bar where sake and local Kyushu cuisine such as seafood and wagyu beef is served, while the lounge in car four and has an arched latticework ceiling and several small dining tables for passengers.
Cars five and six offer regular seating and have tatami mat floors made with rush grass from the island’s Kumamoto Prefecture. Following Japanese etiquette, guests sitting in the cars with tatami mat floors must remove their shoes before entering.
The five routes of the 36+3 train make a circuit around the perimeter of Kyushu island, with stops in all seven prefectures. The trips are divided into five different routes from Thursday to Monday. Each route is colour-themed to showcase the highlights of the towns along the way.
On Thursdays, the train takes the ‘red road’ running from Hakata in the north down the island’s west coast in the Kumamoto Prefecture offering spectacular views of the East China Sea along the way. On Friday, the train takes the ‘black road’ cutting across the island’s south from Kagoshima-Chuo to Miyazaki Airport and makes a lunch stop at Osumi Okawara Station, where you can enjoy views of Kinko Bay and the Sakurajima volcano.
On Saturdays, it’s the ‘green road’ which runs along the eastern coast of Kyushu to Beppu, with a stop in Saiki City so guests can buy such local specialities as black tea grown in the mountains and Japanese chestnut jam. After leaving Beppu on Sundays, the train makes its way along the ‘blue road’ travelling across the northern coastline guests can look forward to views of Beppu Bay on one side of the train and the mountains of Oita Prefecture on the other. Finally, the Monday route, ‘gold road’, takes travellers from Hakata Station to the city of Nagasaki with a stop in a historical town known for its sake breweries.
All images (C) JR Kyushu
Prices from: 12,000 yen (c£86)
For more information, please visit New Luxury 36+3