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

Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.
Resort Shirakami is one of the most popular cruising train in Japan.

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 Sanchi (白神山地)”. If you have a plan to go to Shirakami Sanchi, this train will be one of your choice.

This is a kind of local trains but this is very special. This is a cruising train for sightseeing along Shirakami Sanchi and some spots along Gono line (五能線). It is operated by specialized train and it does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated during the peak periods only, but it is very popular. Of course you can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge.

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

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

Route and schedule

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.

Resrot Shirakami Buna formation is operated by KIHA40 Buna cars.
Resrot Shirakami Buna formation is operated by KIHA40 Buna cars.

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

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.


View Resort Shirakami in a larger map

Accommodation and train formation

Resort Shirakami Kumagaera formation is operated by KIHA40 Kumagera cars. (C) JP Rail
Resort Shirakami Kumagaera formation is operated by KIHA40 Kumagera cars. (C) JP Rail

There are three types of trains for Resort Shirakami. These are HB-E300 Aoike formation (青池編成), KIHA-40 Buna formation (ブナ編成) and KIHA-40 Kumagera formation (くまげら編成). HB-E300 is the newest car for Resort Shirakami. It was introduced in December, 2010. There is not big difference between HB-E300 and KIHA-40 series in the seat configuration and layout. But HB-E300 is more comfortable and quieter. If you have a choice, take Resort Shirakami by Aoike formation.

The seat configuration is 2+2. The seat pitch is 1200mm. This is way bigger than most of Limited Express trains. And also there are some of compartment. If you will travel as party of 4, this compartment will be suitable.

Images

KIHA40 series (Kumagera set)
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
HB-E300 ordinary seat HB-E300 ordinary seat

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 comapartment

KIHA-40 Kumagera formation

1 2 3 4
R R(B) R R

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

KIHA-40 Buna formation

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

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

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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