JR Hokkaido have introduced two new sightseeing trains called the “Sanshi-Suimei” series on local lines. The trains are renovated Kiha 40 series trains, which have been thoroughly refurbished both inside and out.
The Kiha 40 series was first introduced in 1977, and are now a common sight across Japan in rural and suburban areas where lines are not electrified. In Hokkaido there are 150 Kiha 40 trains in operation which have been specially adapted for conditions of severe cold. As part of continued efforts to revitalize areas along local rail lines, JR Hokkaido have refurbished two Kiha 40 trains with designs that celebrate the natural beauty of Hokkaido’s landscape.
“Sanshi-suimei” (山紫水明 – literally “purple mountains, clear waters”) is a well-known phrase created by the 19th century scholar Rai Sanyo to describe the landscape of Kyoto, but it has now become a common expression signifying any location of scenic beauty. There are two trains in the new Sanshi-Suimei series which have different colored themes: the Sanmei train which is colored green and the Shisui train which is colored purple.
The exterior of the Sanmei is a deep emerald green which represents the forests of Hokkaido and it is decorated with a patchwork motif of mountains, trees, and fields. The interior continues the forest green theme with cozy seating and wooden furnishings to create a warm and natural atmosphere.
The exterior of the Shisui is a deep purple color and it is decorated with a motif representing stars, snow crystals, and the waves of the sea. The interior comes with comfortable purple seating and wooden furnishings to create a mood of elegant dignity.
The Sanmei train was introduced last September and now runs mainly on the Hakodate Line which connects Hakodate and Asahikawa, and the Sassho Line which connects Soen in Sapporo with Shintotsukawa. The Shisui was introduced last October and now runs mainly on the Soya Main Line between Asahikawa and Wakkanai, the Sekihoku Main Line between Shin-Asahikawa and Abashiri, and the Furano Line between Furano and Asahikawa.
Both trains runs regular schedules, but will also be used for special seasonal services and events.
Article by Michael Lambe. Images courtesy of JR Hokkaido. All rights reserved.