JR East recently introduced a new sightseeing train, called “Kairi”, that runs along the coastline of Niigata and Yamagata prefectures. The Kairi runs between Niigata Station and Sakata Station on the Hakushin and Uetsu Main lines taking in views along the way of the Echigo and Shonai plains, the Sea of Japan, and the sacred Three Mountains of Dewa. The scenic beauty and culinary bounty of this region is expressed in the name Kairi (海里) whose two characters mean “sea” and “country village”.
Kairi is an energy-efficient hybrid diesel train with four cars. Its striking exterior is decorated with graduated colors of red and white which each represent the setting sun and fresh snow. The train is designed as a celebration of the spectacular landscape and rich gourmet culture of Niigata and Yamagata’s northwestern Shonai region. Let’s take a look at the train’s interior.
The first car has 30 reclining seats arranged in pairs.
The second car has seating for 32 passengers arranged in compartments with four seats per group. These seats can be extended into a fully flat position, so you can comfortably stretch out your legs.
The third car has a kiosk selling Kairi-themed souvenirs, drinks, and snacks. This is also an event space and hosts a variety of live musical performances.
The fourth car is a dining car with 24 seats which are arranged in groups of four, or in pairs. Here passengers can enjoy special set meals prepared by chefs from some of the top restaurants in the Niigata and Shonai regions. However, passengers travelling in cars 1 or 2 can also enjoy special bento lunch boxes if they order them in advance of their trip.
The Kairi sightseeing train runs only on weekends and holidays and makes regular stops at the following stations:
Niigata – Shibata – Nakajo – Sakamachi – Murakami – Kuwagawa – Sasagawa-nagare – Atsumi-Onsen – Tsuruoka – Amarume – Sakata
For more details of the Kairi’s upcoming schedule, current menu, and booking information, please visit the official English language page on the JR East website.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos courtesy of JR East. All rights reserved.