Belles Montagnes et Mer (or “Berumonta” for short) is a special sightseeing train operated by JR West in Toyama Prefecture. This is mainly a weekend train which connects the cities of Takaoka and Nanto via the JR Johana Line on Saturdays, and the cities of Takaoka and Himi via the JR Himi Line on Sundays. Conveniently, Hokuriku Shinkansen passengers can transfer directly to this sightseeing service at Shin-Takaoka Station.
Berumonta is said to be “a gallery on wheels”, as the windows of the train are like paintings through which one can admire the passing scenery of the sea and mountains. It is this scenery that gives the train its name: “Belles Montagnes et Mer”, which is French for “beautiful mountains and sea”. Famous sightseeing attractions along the route include Zuiryuji Temple, Himi Onsen hot springs, Amaharashi Beach, the traditional thatched roof houses of Gokayama village, and the festival floats of Takaoka Mikurumayama Museum.
The Berumonta has just one carriage with seating for 39 passengers. The interior of this train is decorated with traditional local crafts which include gorgeous Inami woodcarvings and Takaoka copperware.
However, the really enjoyable part of taking this train is sampling the onboard food and drink. A variety of fresh seafood, sushi and sashimi dishes are available which are prepared by chefs on board the train. There are also sake tasting sets featuring three different varieties of local sake that you can drink and compare.
Although this service was briefly halted during this year’s nationwide state of emergency, the train has now resumed operating and is scheduled to continue until early next year.
Because of the current pandemic, certain infection prevention measures have been put in place on this train which include: partitions and vinyl curtains between seats, regular ventilation of the carriage, alcohol disinfectant being available on the train, and regular cleaning of the carriage with disinfectant solution. Railway staff will also wear masks and regularly wash and disinfect their hands. Of course, passengers are also asked to wear masks.
Tickets cost just 530 yen for adults and 260 yen for children, but seats must be booked in advance. Naturally, onboard food and drink cost extra. For more details of Belles Montagnes et Mer’s schedule, please visit the official webpage: https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/train/berumonta/
Article by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.