Rail cruising in UNESCO World Heritage Shirakami mountains by Rapid train Resort Shirakami

HB-E300 Buna train set is the newest fleets for Resort Shirakami.

Resort Shirakami (リゾートしらかみ) is a rapid train that is operated between Akita (秋田) and Aomori (青森). This train is named from UNESCO World Heritage site “Shirakami mountains (白神山地)”. This train runs on Gono line (五能線) along the shoreline of Sea of Japan. Gono line is known as one of the most scenic lines. The view is amazing.

This train is not an express train but this cruising train offers very comfortable interior. It is operated by specialized train and it does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated on weekend, holidays and the peak periods only. If you use Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), JR East Pass, JR-East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can take this train with no extra charge.

I show you some images of this train and tell you the details of this train in this post.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Route and schedule

Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.
Resort Shirakami, HB-E300 Aoike train set is one of the fleets for Resort Shirakami.

This train connects Akita with Aomori in 5 hours. Some of trains are operated between Akita and Hirosaki (弘前). This train goes through Gono line that goes along Nihonkai coastline. Gono line is one of the line that has a great scenery. This train is for the tourists who wants to enjoy this scenery. If you are hurry, please take Limited Express Tsugaru. You can transfer from Aomori to Akita in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

If you are looking for the access to Shirakami Sanchi, you may get off this train at Juniko station. You can get off at Ajigasawa station too. You cannot access the core of Shirakami Sanchi from Ajigasawa. But Ajigasawa has “Mini Shirakami”. This is 30 minutes away from Ajigasawa by car. It is not the core of Shirakami, but it has same scenery and same ecological system. You can access Shirakami Sanchi from Hirosaki or other major stations. If you are not interested in Gono line, this train might not be suitable for you.

This is a seasonal train. Three round trips are operated almost everyday in July, August and September. But there is one round trip on weekends and holiday only in shoulder season. Please check the most updated schedule at Seasonal trains information.

You may have an experience about a local culture on board. Some of the trains give you Tsugaru dialect story teller (津軽弁語り部) or Tsugaru shamisen (津軽三味線=Japanese musical instrument that has three strings).

You also can find some more information about this train at my trip report.
Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 Winter, Part 4 from Akita to Hirosaki by Resort Shirakami

Operation route


View Resort Shirakami in a larger map

Stations Train #1, #2 Train #4, #5 Train #3 Train #6
Akita (秋田) X X X X
Oiwake (追分) X X X X
Hachirogata (八郎潟) X X X X
Moritake (森岳) X
Higashi-Noshiro (東能代) X X X X
Noshiro (能代) X X X X
Akita-Shirakami (あきた白神) X X X X
Iwadate (岩館) X X X X
Juniko (十二湖) X X X X
WeSpa Tsubakiyama (ウェスパ椿山) X X X X
Fukaura (深浦) X X X X
Senjojiki (千畳敷) X
Akigasawa (鰺ヶ沢) X X X X
Mutsu-Morita (陸奥森田) X X X X
Kizukuri (木造) X X X X
Goshogawara (五所川原) X X X X
Mutsu-Tsuruta (陸奥鶴田) X X X X
Itayanagi (板柳) X X X X
Kawabe (川部) X X X X
Hirosaki (弘前) X X X X
Shin-Aomori (新青森) X X
Aomori (青森) X X

X=Stop -=Skip

Operation dates

Please check the most updated information at Seasonal trains information.

Accommodation and train formation

Resort Shirakami Kumagaera train set is only first generation trains set, KIHA-40. (C) JP Rail

There are three train sets used for Resort Shirakami. These train sets have name, Aoike (青池編成), Buna (ブナ編成) and Kumagera (くまげら編成). Aoike and Bura are HB-E300 that is the second generation train. It is a hybrid updated train set. Aoike was introduced in December, 2010 and Buna was introduced in July, 2016. Only Kumagera is KIHA-40 series that is the first generation train set. But even Kumagera train set offers nice interior. There is not a big difference between HB-E300 (Aoike and Buna) and KIHA-40 (Kumagera) in the seat configuration and layout. But HB-E300 is more comfortable and quieter. And also the newest train set, Buna has a retail space to offer some souvenir, drink and light meal. But on other train, on board wagon service is available. If you can choose, Buna is the best obviously.

The seat configuration is 2+2. The seat gives you 1200mm in leg room. Actually this is much bigger than common Limited Express trains’ ordinary seat. Resort Shirakami has some of compartment. If you will travel as party of 4, this compartment will be suitable.

Images

KIHA-40 series, Kumagera
Exterior
Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail

Interior
Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP RailResort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail

Public space (performance area)
Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail

Sanitary space
Resort Shirakami Kumagera set (C) JP Rail akebono-shirakami-tsugaru-akita 108

HB-E300 series, Aoike
HB-E300 ordinary seat HB-E300 ordinary seat

HB-E300 series, Buna
Exterior
Buna trains set exterior

Seat
Ordinary seat

Public space, Retail counter
Retail space Public space behind cockpit

Compartment
Compartment interior Compartment interior width= Compartment interior width=

Train formation

HB-E300 Aoike formation

1 2 3 4
R R(B) R R

R=Reserved ordinary seat R(B)=Reserved ordinary seat in compartment

KIHA-40 Kumagera formation

1 2 3 4
R R(B) R R

R=Reserved ordinary seat R(B)=Reserved ordinary seat in compartment

HB-E300 Buna formation

1 2 3 4
R R(B) R(B) R

R=Reserved ordinary seat R(B)=Reserved ordinary seat in compartment

Photo Credit
Kiha48 (Buna) by Rsa (Rsaが東能代駅で撮影) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
HB-E300 by Rsa (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
HB-E300 by Rsa (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
HB-E300 by Rsa (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

30 thoughts on “Rail cruising in UNESCO World Heritage Shirakami mountains by Rapid train Resort Shirakami”

  1. Hi!

    I’m on a very tight schedule and can only afford a day trip from tokyo. I’ve read that it’s possible by using the Hayabusa and the Komachi.
    However:
    1.) I don’t know whether January 13-15 (one of these dates) is pretty busy. Is this train usually booked at these time?
    2.) How many people can fit in the box car? were travelling as a group of 6.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      1. It’s shoulder season. I expect it will be very very slow. When I took this train in same period before, there were a few passengers in whole train.

      2. Box seat can accommodate only 4. You have to book two compartments. But it will be easy to book in this season.

      By the way, in winter time, Resort Shirakami is suspended very often due to high wind and heavy snow. I don’t worry about booking but weather may be issue. Before you go, I highly recommend you to check the updated forecast.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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