Schedule of 2014-15 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways

Limited Express Asahiyama Zoo
Limited Express Asahiyama Dobutsuen

In Japan, New Year holidays are the busiest period in entire year. Most of Japanese go back to hometown in this season. So the trains depart from major cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya will be very busy. Most of companies will be closed from Dec 30 to Jan 3. In this coming season, I expect Dec 27, 28, 29 and 30 will be busy. And everybody come back on January 3 and 4. So you should avoid to take a train on those days. In some of the trains, the occupancy rate may be more than 200%. As long as trains have non reserved seat, you can get on anyway without any reservation. But you will be forced to stay on the isle or passenger’s deck without seat. There are many passengers without seats in the train during those busiest days.

The movie below shows you the station and train in new year in 2013. You can find how it goes in New Year holidays.

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

As probably you know, Hokkaido and northern Honshu island (Tohoku region) have very cold and snowy winter. If you travel in these cold weather regions, please expect the delay or suspend due to snow or high wind. If you plan to visit these regions, don’t make a tight schedule.

Anyway JR Group operate lots of seasonal trains during all winter season. But it is too many to introduce all seasonal trains. So I pick up the popular trains and are operated in the popular spot.

JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)

SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy train

This train is operated by steam locomotive between Hakodate and Onuma Koen (Onuma park) to enjoy Christmas atmosphere. There are reserved seat only. You need to book it before boarding.

Operation dates

December 6,7,13,14,20,21,22,23,24,25, 2014
*On Dec 22, only #3 and #4 will run.

Timetable

#1 Hakodate 08:35 Onuma Koen 09:15
#2 Onuma Koen 10:04 Hakodate 10:47
#3 Hakodate 14:15 Onuma Koen 14:53
#4 Onuma Koen 15:55 Hakodate 16:34

If you want more info about this train, please see the post, SL Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. Enjoy winter scenery between Hakodate and Onuma.

Ryuhyo Limited Express Okhotsk no Kaze

This limited express train is additional train of Limited Express Okhotsk between Sapporo and Abashiri. It is operated for Drift Ice season by KIHA 183 North Rainbow Express. This series is much better than standard 183 series for Okhotsk. If you go to Abashiri in this season. try to take this train.

Operation dates
February 5 – 22 2015

Timetable

Sapporo 07:55 Abashiri 13:47
Abashiri 14:17 Sapporo 19:59

*This train stop at Iwamizawa, Bibai, Sunagawa, Takikawa, Fukagawa, Asahikawa, Kamikawa, Maruseppu, Engaru, Ikutahara, Rubeshibe, Kitami, Bihoro and Memanbetsu.

If you are looking for more information about the interior of KIHA 183 series North Rainbow Express, please refer the post, Furano Lavender Express / Koyo Express. This summer/fall express train is operated by same type of car.

Ryuhyo Norokko train

Shiretoko is very popular destination in winter time for Ryuhyo (流氷=Drift Ice) viewing. This train is operated in Drift Ice season for viewing by “Torokko” (open air type passenger’s car).

Operation dates
January 31 – February 28, 2015

Timetable

#2 Shiretoko-Shari 08:55 Abashiri 10:00
#1 Abashiri 10:25 Shiretoko-Shari 11:22
#4 Shiretoko-Shari 11:54 Abashiri 12:55
#3 Abashiri 13:57 Shiretoko-Shari 14:55

*This train stop at Kitahama, Hamkoshimizu and Yamubetsu. Only train #1 stops at Katsuradai, Masuura, Mokoto and those three stations.

If you need more information about this train, please see this post, Ryuhyo Norokko train.

SL/DL Fuyu no Shitsugen train (Winter train to Kushiro marsh by Steam Locomotive)

This train is operated by steam locomotive. This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. It is similar type train to Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train. But this train is not operated by Norokko train. There are reserved seat only. You need to book it before boarding.
*On some of the days in February, trains pulled by Diesel Locomotive.

Operation dates

January 17,18,24,25, 2015 operation between Kushiro and Kawayu Onsen
January 31 – February 28, 2015 operation between Kushiro and Shibecha.

Timetable

Kushiro 11:20 Kawayu Onsen 14:14 (1/17,18,24,25)
Shibecha 12:35 (1/31-2/28)
Kawayu Onsen 14:56 (1/17,18,24,25)
Shibecha 14:02 (1/31-2/28)
Kushiro 17:24 (1/17,18,24,25)
Kushiro 15:21 (1/31-2/28)

This train stops at Higashi-Kushiro, Kushiro Shitsugen, Toro, Kayanuma, Shibecha and Mashu.

Limited Express Asahiyama Dobutsuen

This train connects Sapporo with Asahikawa and is operated by newly renovated Asahiyama Zoo featured train. Asahiyama zoo in the most popular zoo in Japan. This train has only reserved seat. (Japanese site link)

Operation dates
December 20-28, 2014
January 2-4, 10-12, 2015

Timetable

Sapporo 08:30 Asahikawa 10:07
Asahikawa 16:04 Sapporo 17:46

Train makes a stop at Iwamizawa and Takikawa.

JR East (Tohoku and Kanto area)

Toreiyu Tsubasa

The first ever Shinkansen cruise train, Toreiyu Tsubsa. (C) James Chuang
The first ever Shinkansen cruise train, Toreiyu Tsubsa. (C) James Chuang

This is the first ever Shinkansen train that has foot Onsen bath in the car.

Operation dates
Dec 6,7,13,14,20,21, 2014
Jan 10-12,17,18,24,25,31, 2015
Feb 1,7,8,14,15,21,22,28, 2015

Timetable

Station Toreiyu Tsubasa #1 Station Toreiyu Tsubasa #2
Fukushima 10:02 Shinjo 14:43
Yonezawa 10:36 Oishida 14:58
Takahata 10:44 Murayama 15:14
Akayu 10:50 Sakuranbo-Higashine 15:22
Kaminoyama-Onsen 11:08 Tendo 15:36
Yamagata 11:26 Yamagata 16:13
Tendo 11:37 Kaminoyama-Onsen 16:23
Sakuranbo-Higashine 11:45 Akayu 16:45
Murayama 11:50 Takahata 16:52
Oishida 12:00 Yonezawa 17:07
Shinjo 12:16 Fukushima1 17:41

You can find more information about this train at the post, Toreiyu Tsubasa. First ever Shinkansen train that has foot bath.

Rapid Holiday Kaisoku Fujisan

This train connects Shinjuku with Lake Kawaguchi or Oyama/Omiya with Lake Kawaguchi directly. You don’t need to transfer the trains at Otsuki. But if you use this train by Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass, basic fare between Otsuki and Lake Kawaguchi is not included.

Operation dates
All weekend and holidays from December to Feruary, and Dec 30, 31, Jan 1 and 2.

Timetable

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Shinjuku Hachioji Kawaguchiko
Holiday #1 08:14 08:53 10:36
Kawaguchiko Hachioji Shinjuku
Holiday #2 16:00 17:26 17:59

*Rapid Holiday Kaisoku Fujisan from/to Shinjuku makes a stop at Mitaka, Tachikawa, Hachioji, Takao, Sagamiko, Uenohara, Shiotsu, Otsuki, Tsurushi, Tsuru-Bunkadaigakumae, Mitsutoge, Fujisan and Fujikyu-Highland.

Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.
Some of Resort Shirakami are operated by the newest Hybrid train.

Rapid Resort Shirakami

This train connects Akita with Aomori through Gono line that has one of the greatest scenery. This train is operated by the specialized train or the newest Hybrid train. This train has only reserved seat.

Operation dates and timetable

Station/train# Akita Aomori Operation date
#1 (Akita to Aomori) 08:25(8:28) 13:23(13:35) Dec 1-31, 2014
Jan 1-4,9-12,16-31, 2015
Feb 1,2,6-8,13-15,20-22,26-28, 2015
#5 (Akita to Aomori) 14:17 19:26 Dec 1-31, 2014
Jan 1-3,9-11,16-31, 2015
Feb 1,2,6,7,13,14,20,21,26-28, 2015
Station/train# Aomori Akita Operation date
#2 (Aomori to Akita) 08:02 13:31 Dec 1-31, 2014
Jan 1-4,10-12,17-31, 2015
Feb 1,2,7,8,14,15,21,22,27,28, 2015
#4 (Aomori to Akita) 13:55 19:00 Dec 1-31, 2014
Jan 1-4,9-12,16-31, 2015
Feb 1,2,6-8,13-15,20-22,26-28, 2015

This train makes a stop at Oiwaki, Hachirogata, Moritake, Higashi-Noshiro, Noshiro, Akita-Shirakami, Iwadate, Juniko, WeSpa-Tsubakiyama, Fukaura, Senjojiki, Ajigasawa, Mutsu-Morita, Kizukuri, Goshogawara, Mutsu-Tsuruta, Itayanagi, Kawabe, Hirosaki and Shin-Aomori. If you need more information about this train, please refer Rapid Resort Shirakami.

Rapid Resort Minori

This train connects Sendai with Shinjo via Naruko Onsen. It is operated by specialized train. You can see some images at JR East Sendai branch site.

Operation dates
December 6,7,13,14,20,21,23,27-31, 2014
January 2-4,10-12,23-25,30,31, 2015
February 1,7,8,11,14,15,21,22,28, 2015

Timetable
Sendai 09:25 – 11:00 Naruko Onsen 11:25 – Shinjo 12:28
Shinjo 15:00 – 15:58 Naruko Onsen 16:00 – Sendai 17:37

This train makes a stop at Matsuhima, Kogota, Furukawa, Iwadeyama, Yubikan, Kawatabi-Onsen, Naruko-Gotenyu, Naruko-Onsen, Nakayamadaira-Onsen, Akakura-Onsen, Mogami and Semi-Onsen.

Rapid Resort View Furusato

This train connects Nagano with Minami-Otari via Matsumoto, Shinano-Omachi and Hakuba. It is operated by Hybrid train. You can see some images at JR East Nagano branch site.

Operation dates
December 5-7,12-14,21-24,26-31, 2014
January 1-5,9-12,23-25,30,31, 2015
February 1,6-11,14,15,20,27,28, 2015

Timetable
Nagano 09:04 – 10:24 Matsumoto 10:41 – 10:59 Hodaka 11:26 – 11:46 Shinano Omachi 11:51 – 12:25 Hakuba 12:30 – 12:44 Minami Otari
Minami Otari 15:16 – 15:28 Hakuba 15:32 – 16:08 Shinano Omachi 16:13 – 16:38 Hodaka 16:47 – 17:15 Matsumoto 17:23 – 18:28 Nagano

Rapid Kirakira Uetsu

This train connects Niigata and Sakata or Ugo-Honjo on Uetsu line. You can enjoy local foods and beautiful coast scenery of Sea of Japan. It is operated by specialized train “Kirakira Uetsu”. You can see some images at JR East Niigata branch site.

Operation dates
December 5-7,12-14,19-21,23,26-31, 2014
January 1-4,9-12,17,18,24,25,31, 2015
February 1,7,8,14,15,21,22,28, 2015

Timetable
Niigata 10:14 – 12:51 Sakata
Sakata 16:11 – Niigata 18:32

Overnight Limited Express Akebono

Akebono was the scheduled train until this past March. But it will be discontinued and it will be operated as seasonal train in this summer.

Operation dates
To Aomori :Dec 29,30, 2014 / Jan 3,4, 2015
To Ueno : Dec 28,29, 2014 / Jan 2,3, 2015

Timetable
Ueno 21:33 – 12:19 Aomori
Aomori 17:11 – 06:20 Ueno

If you need more info about Akebono, please see the post, Overnight transfer to Aomori/Akita from Tokyo, No extra charge on Japan Rail Pass! Overnight limited express Akebomo.
*Goronto seat will not be available. Only B berth is available.

Overnight Rapid Moonlight Shinshu 81

This is very popular and hard to get the seat. This train does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated by old type Limited Express cars. But there is no berth or compartment.

Operation date
Dec 26-30,2014

Timetable
Shinjuku 23:54 – Hakuba 05:40
*There is no train to Shinjuku from Hakuba
This train makes a stop at Tachikawa, Hachioji, Otsuki, Shioyama, Kofu, Kobuchizawa, Chino, Kamisuwa, Shimosuwa, Okaya, Tatsuno, Shiojiri, Matsumoto, Toyoshina, Hodaka, Shinano-Omachi and Kamishiro.

JR Central (Chubu, Tokai and Hokuriku)

Overnight Rapid Moonlight Nagara

This is very popular and hard to get the seat. This train does not have any non reserved seat. This train is operated by old type Limited Express cars. But there is no berth or compartment.

Operation dates
To Ogaki – December 22, 2014 to January 3, 2015
To Tokyo – December 23, 2014 to January 4, 2015

Timetable

stations time stations time
Tokyo 23:10 Ogaki 22:49
Shinagawa 23:18 Gifu 22:59
Yokohama 23:36 Nagoya 23:20
Odawara 00:31 Toyohashi 00:17
Numazu 01:08 Hamamatsu 00:55
Shizuoka 01:50 Shizuoka 01:55
Hamamatsu 03:11 Numazu 03:19
Nagoya 05:24 Yokohama 04:41
Gifu 05:42 Shinagawa 04:58
Ogaki 05:51 Tokyo 05:05

If you are looking for more information about Moonlight Nagara, please see the post, Rapid train Moonlight Nagara.

JR West (Kansai, Hokuriku and Chugoku)

SL Yamaguchi

This train is usually operated by C57 type steam locomotive between Shin-Yamaguchi and Tsuwano. However Yamaguchi line was damaged by heavy rain in this past summer. Since then some part of this line was closed and SL Yamaguchi was suspended. In this winter, this train will be operated on some part of original schedule. This train has only reserved seat. (Japanese site link)

Operation dates
December 20,21 2014 (Operated as “SL Christmas train”)
January 1-3 2015 (Operated as “SL Tsuwano Inari”)

Timetable
Shin-Yamaguchi 10:48 – Yuda-Onsen 11:04 – Yamaguchi 11:10 – Tsuwano 12:58
This train also makes a stop at Niho, Shinome, Choumonkyo a nd Jifuku.

Rapid Setouchi Marine View

This train was operated between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure line. This train is operated by specialized train. Please check the images at the following links (JR West official site): Exterior | Reserved seat | Non reserved seat

Operation dates
All weekend and holidays from December 1, 2014 to February 28, 2015.
Everyday from December 30, 2014 to January 4, 2015

Timetable
Hiroshima 10:06 – Kure 10:52 – Mihara 12:27
Mihara 13:25 – 14:59 Kure 15:19 – Hiroshima 16:07
This train also makes a stop at Hiro, Awa-Kawajiri, Yasuura, Akitsu, Takehara and Tadanoumi.

JR Kyushu (Kyushu)

Limited Express Yufuin-no-Mori

It is very popular train that connect Hakata and Yufuin. One round trip of this train goes to Beppu. Please see the post, Very popular train to Yufuin from Hakata and Oita. Limited Express Yufuin no Mori / Yufu to get the details.

Operation dates and timetable
This train runs everyday. But it is operated by ordinary express train fleets as “Limited Express Yufu” on the specific dates. In this case, train’s interior is quite different. It is okay but not spectacular. If you do not want to have common fleets, please avoid to take this train on the day in “Remarks” below.

Station/train# Hakata Yufuin Oita Beppu Remarks
#1 09:24 11:34 Operation as “Yufu” by ordinary fleets on Nov 17-21, 2014 and Jan 13-Feb 13, 2015.
#3 10:25 12:34 13:21 13:35 Operation as “Yufu” by ordinary fleets on Oct 6-10, 2014 and Dec 16-18, 2014.
#5 14:36 16:44 Operation as “Yufu” by ordinary fleets on Nov 17-21, 2014 and Jan 13-Feb 13, 2015.
Station/train# Beppu Oita Yufuin Hakata Remarks
#2 12:09 14:16 Operation as “Yufu” by ordinary fleets on Nov 17-21, 2014 and Jan 13-Feb 13, 2015.
#4 14:41 15:03 15:50 18:08 Operation as “Yufu” by ordinary fleets on Oct 6-10, 2014 and Dec 16-18, 2014.
#6 17:07 19:17 Operation as “Yufu” by ordinary fleets on Nov 17-21, 2014 and Jan 13-Feb 13, 2015.

This train makes a stop at Shin-Suizenji, Suizenji, Higo-Otsu and Akamizu too.

Limited Express Aso Boy!

This train is operated to Mt. Aso from Kumamoto by the train that have the panoramic windows at the both end. This train has only reserved seat. Please see the post, Access to Mt. Aso from Kumamoto. Kids friendly train, Limited Express Aso Boy! to get the details about this train.

Operation dates
All Saturday, Sunday and holidays from December 6, 2014 to February 28, 2015
And January 9, 2015

Timetable

Station/train# Kumamoto Tateno Aso Miyaji
#101 10:28 11:15 11:49 12:00
#103 13:55 14:33 15:14 15:23
Station/train# Miyaji Aso Tateno Kumamoto
#102 12:22 12:27 13:01 13:40
#104 15:40 15:44 16:26 17:13

This train makes a stop at Shin-Suizenji, Suizenji, Higo-Otsu and Akamizu too.

Limited Express Umisachi-Yamasachi

This train goes through Nichinan coastline. Please see the details at my post.

Operation dates
Nov 1-3, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22-24, 2014
Dec 23, 25-31, 2014
Jan 1-4, 10-12, 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31, 2015
Feb 1, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, 2015

Timetable

Stations to Nango to Miyazaki
Miyazaki (宮崎) 10:06 17:14
Minami-Miyazaki (南宮崎) 10:11 17:09
Tayoshi (田吉) 10:15 17:06
Kodomonokuni (子供の国) 10:25 16:51
Aoshima (青島) 10:28 16:48
Kitago (北郷) 10:56 16:23
Obi (飫肥) 11:06-11:16 16:00-16:13
Nichinan (日南) 11:23 15:54
Aburatsu (油津) 11:26 15:50
Nango (南郷) 11:42 15:35

Rapid SL Hitoyoshi

This train is connects Kumamoto with Hitoyoshi by steam locomotive and specialized passenger’s cars.

Operation dates
Nov 1-4, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 2014

Timetable

Station/train# From Kumamoto
to Hitoyoshi
From Hitoyoshi
to Kumamoto
Kumamoto (熊本) 09:44 17:13
Shin-Yatsushiro (新八代) 10:25 16:30
Yatsushiro (八代) 10:31/10:38 16:25
Shiraishi (白石) 11:21/11:26 15:23/15:28
Isshochi (一勝地) 11:41/11:51 14:58/15:08
Hitoyoshi (人吉) 12:13 14:38

A Ressha de Iko (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train)

This train connects Kumamoto with Misumi. Misumi is the gateway station for Amakusa.

Operation dates
Nov 1-4, 7-9, 14-16, 21-25, 28-30, 2014
Dec 6, 7, 13, 14, 20-31, 2014
Jan 1-4, 9-12, 2015
Feb 21, 22 and 28, 2015

Timetable

Station/train# Kumamoto Uto Misumi
#1 10:36 10:46 11:14
#3 12:20 12:30 13:02
#5 14:41 14:51 15:18
Station/train# Misumi Uto Kumamoto
#2 11:21 11:48 11:59
#4 13:55 14:23 14:33
#6 16:19 16:50 17:00

37 thoughts on “Schedule of 2014-15 winter seasonal trains of Japan Railways”

  1. Dear JP,

    Do you have any idea if the Hokkaido DL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train 冬季湿原号 still operating? Going to Kushiro in Feb 2016 and wished to ride the locomotive, but so far only see the SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train timetable online. Has the DL shitsugen discontinued or the schedule isn’t out yet? Pls advised.

    And am wondering if there’s taxi from kawayu onsen to lake Kusharro? If there is, what’s the cost estimation?

    Tqs very very much!
    Moon choo

    1. Hi Moon,

      DL is just substitute of SL. As long as SL is active, DL is not operated.
      In this season, all trains are pulled by Steam Locomotive. Diesel Locomotive will not run in this season.

      I have no idea about taxi fare at all.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Dear JPRail,
    I booked a ticket back home on the first January 2016 from Nagoya airport. Is there any train works during that day? If it yes, what time is the earliest I could get?
    Cheers

  3. Hello,

    I have unwisely booked an early flight at New Chitose on the 1st of January, 2016. What are my options travelling out of Sapporo on New Year’s Eve? Are there any trains going from Sapporo to New Chitose past midnight on that evening?

  4. Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to put this site together and keeping it up to date.

    I have found it very useful when planning trips.

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