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.

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

Operation dates and timetable

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.


KIHA-40 series, Kumagera

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

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

akebono-shirakami-tsugaru-akita 108

HB-E300 series, Aoike

HB-E300 series, Buna

Buna trains set exterior


Ordinary seat

Public space, Retail counter

Retail space
Public space behind cockpit


Compartment interior
Compartment interior width=
Compartment interior width=

Train formation

HB-E300 Aoike formation


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

KIHA-40 Kumagera formation


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

HB-E300 Buna formation


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

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

  1. Dear Takeshi,

    May I assume that the online reservation is not covered all route. As I am the JR East South Hokkaido Pass and I try to reserve the LTD. EXP TSUGARU 5 on 16th Oct, there is no selection available. Please advise.
    Many thanks & regards,
    Tipwan S.

    1. Hi Tipwan S.,

      Actually this online reservation system does not cover many trains. It covers only major trains. Tsugaru is not covered by this online reservation system. You have to book a seat after you arrive in Japan.


      Takeshi /

  2. I have a question. I try to book the Resort Shirakami from Aomori to Akita at 13.51 on Tuesday 16 Oct 2018 but not successful. It shows that ‘error in the boarding date & 0212JPP1024″. According to the schedule it shows 1-31 Oct, does it mean daily in Oct?

        1. Dear Takeshi,
          It’s Tip again. Could you please help to verify my understanding, please.
          I have booked the reservation online for 15 Oct 2018 ‘Hayabusa 7’ for two persons. There is the estimated cost at JPY 13,980. I understand that when I collect my reservation ticket at the pick up point (Ueno), I show my JR EAST South Hokkaido Pass and pay nothing, am I right?
          Does the system process for my credit card settlement when I make the reservation?
          Many thanks & regards,

          1. Hi Tip,

            You don’t need to pay. You have to put your credit card info for deposit. If you don’t pick up your ticket, it will be charged to your credit card. As long as you collect it, it’s no charge.


            Takeshi /

  3. Hello Takeshi,

    Im jasmin and i have a few questions about Resort Shirakami Train.

    1. I’ll be travelling from akita to aomori on 1st of October 2018. But there’s still no updated train schedule. Is it due to the the current weather in Japan? Does thypoon that strike osaka affect the tran operations?

    2. I am holding the JR pass, and if we want to stop at juniko, is is possible? Can we still use our JR pass without any extra charges to get back to aomori?

    3. Do i need to make prior booking before departing in akita although i already have the JR pass

    I do really hope you could reply me, as i am very excited to endure my journey with Resort Shirakami Train

    1. Hi Jasmin,

      1. No worries. It will run as usual. Updated timetable will come up soon.

      2. You can do so but you have make two different bookings, Akita to Juniko and Juniko to Aomori. All Resort Shirakami have only reserved seat. You cannot take this train without reservation. And reservation is required for each segments, Akita to Juniko and Juniko to Aomori in your case.

      3. Even if you have JR pass, you have to make a booking. You don’t need to pay extra but reservation is required. This train is popular. Please try to make a booking as early as possible. You can make an online booking in the link below:


      Takeshi /

  4. hello. i have a few question about resort shirakami schedule

    1) i will take a train between 2-4 november (the schedule didn’t come out yet but i based on the schedule before, it usually operate on weekend). o you think snow already fall at that time or the weather usually okay?

    2) i want to take train number 1 which is depart from akita to aomori at 8.20am . my question is which type of train will be using for train number 1. i really want to ride a buna 🙂

    3) if i use train number 1, it make a stop at any station? i mean a long stop that passenger can go out for a while and take a photo.

    4) i read some blog and website and i found that some people stop at juniko station to go to aoike pond and some place. can i know if we stop there, we can take another resort shirakami that come after that? and if yes, does we need to make a second booking for second ride?

    5) car no 1 and 4 has observatory window . i can book the seat or it just for observatory place. and if i can book the seat, can i see shamisen performance?

    1. Hi syafiqah,

      1. I think you will not see any show yet. It’s hard to say about weather because it’s a transition season. Resort Shirakami is sometimes cancelled by high wind because this train runs along the coastline.

      2. I don’t know yet. It will come sometimes in late August or early September.

      3. Yes. You can go out to take a photo. You will have a few chances.

      4. If you stop by Juniko station, you have to make separate booking, like Akita to Juniko and Juniko to Aomori. Otherwise you cannot take Resort Shirakami.

      5. You cannot book that space. It’s a public space. When Shamisen performance is held, you cannot stay there. If you have a seat on same car, you can see it at your seat. If your seat is in a different car, you can listen it from the speaker. You may be able to stand somewhere around the Shamisen performer. But when I was on this train, I always had a seat on same car and I did not see any audience around the performer. I’m not really sure about it.

      I believe the schedule of October and November will come out soon. But I have no idea when I can tell you which train set will be used for #1.


      Takeshi /

      1. thank you so much for your really help me a lot 🙂 i’m sorry for lot of question. now i got all answer..i will book at car no.3 and go to public access when i want to see the scenery 🙂 by the way can i know which station they will stop for a while to take photo?
        this is my 8th time to japan and my longest journey here. i love japan so much since my high school time and resort shirakami is my wishlist since long time ago..i’m very excited because finally i got this chance and you help me a lot.

  5. I am trying to find the schedule for resort shirakami for saturday the 26th May 2018 and where it stops and for how long. Can you help please.

  6. Hello Takeshi,

    I am looking to take the Resort Shirakami on Jan 7, 2018 from Aomori to Akita. I am deciding between the morning train (Resort Shirakami 2) and the afternoon train (Resort Shirakami 4). I am going to try and go on the HB-E300 Buna if possible. However, where can you find information of which train type is used for service? I have checked Hyperdia, Eki-net, and JR Cyber Station. To my knowledge, none of these websites have this information. Can you please advise me on how I can find this information?

    Thank you,

  7. Hello i was wondering if the Shirakami line only runs from akita to aomori or does it run both ways, As a follow up question i was wondering if you could share any tips and tricks for planning an itinerary which heavily relies on train for both sight seeing and as a mode of transport.

  8. Aloha, Takeshi,

    Thanks for posting the Resort Shirakami line schedule for winter, 2017. Am I reading correctly that Resort Shirakami #3 will run on October 3, 2017?


      1. Aloha, Takeshi,

        We had a wonderful visit to Tohoku. Per your advice, upon arrival in Japan, we went directly to the JR East Travel Center in Narita to secure our reservations on the Resort Shirakami (3 segments), and on other reservable trains as well.

        Prior to that, we exchanged the JR Rail Pass voucher we purchased in the US to obtain the actual pass. Because we stayed some places 2 or 3 days (Furofushi Onsen and places on the Shimokita Peninsula, the 5-day Flex pass was perfect for our schedule (usable any 5 days within a 14-day period). We calculated saving about $150 for 2 people.

        Lucky for us the Maguro Festival was held in Ouma when we were staying in Shimofuro, so we were able to attend by taking a bus to the site. We enjoyed it very much!

        Thanks for your expert advice. We will check back before our next visit.


  9. Hi,

    I intend to take this train in December 2017. Do you know which service will be using the new HB-300 Buna trainset? Also, when can I know which dates it will run?


  10. 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.
    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.


      Takeshi /

      1. hello. can i know if i already book then it suspended, can i book it again ?if used JR Pass, there will be charge for second booking?

        1. Hi ika,

          Even if you miss the train, you can book later train without any extra charge by JR pass. You can simply return your ticket and rebook a seat for later train at the window.


          Takeshi /

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