shirakami

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.

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 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
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

1234
RR(B)RR

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

KIHA-40 Kumagera formation

1234
RR(B)RR

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

HB-E300 Buna formation

1234
RR(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

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    I plan to ride Resort Shirakami # 1(08.20 am) on May 15th or 16th, 2020 from Akita to Hirosaki using JR East Tohoku Pass, would like to question you ;
    – Will that train operate on those days and Can I reserve seat before arriving Japan (exchange voucher)
    – Will Cherry Blossom still available at Hirosaki Park during those days ?
    – I will drop at Horosaki for few hours visit before taking JR train to Aomori station, shall JR trains available to Aomori in the late afternoon ?

    Thank you for your assistance.
    Sam

    1. Hi Sam,

      – Will that train operate on those days and Can I reserve seat before arriving Japan (exchange voucher)
      Probably the train runs on this day. But the schedule has not been released yet. It will come up sometimes in late January.
      You can book online one month before travel day in the link below:
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      – Will Cherry Blossom still available at Hirosaki Park during those days ?
      Unfortunately I don’t think so. In this year, it was full bloom in late April. In mid May, usually only a few part of Hokkaido still have some cherry blossom. Mid May is too late to see in most places of Japan.

      – I will drop at Horosaki for few hours visit before taking JR train to Aomori station, shall JR trains available to Aomori in the late afternoon ?
      Yes. There are both express trains and local trains running. You may find the schedule at Hyperdia:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Dear Takeshi

    We will be visiting Japan (firts time) in October and we would like to take the Resort Shirakami train between Aomori and Akita. I understand that the timetables are not published yet but that they will be similar to the timetables in October 2018, so there will be one train each day in each direction.
    We are not going to travel with a JR pass, so we would like to know the cost of one way journey per person, please.
    We cannot find this information on line.Do you know the cost of the single journey?

    Thank you very much in advance

    Angels

    1. Hi Angels,

      The base fare is 4,430 yen and reserved seat fee is another 520 yen on top of the base fare. All seats are reserved seat and you have to pay this reserved seat fee.

      The timetable will be almost same as the last year. This year’s timetable will come up in August.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello
    I wish to take the Resort Shirakami from Akita to Aomori sometime during the first two weeks of October this year. Can you please tell me when the timetable will be available? Do you think I am safe to assume that it will be the same as October 2018 (runs every day) ? Are we able to take our suitcases on board? Can we book this train online before we leave NZ if we have a JR Pass ? I note from previous comments that people who have the JR East Pass can do this.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Katrina,

      It will come up sometimes in late August usually. The timetable will not be much different from 2018 but I cannot confirm it at this point.
      You may book it at JR East online reservation site.
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      You can reserve your seat at 10:00 am on the day of one month prior to departure date.
      e.g. For the travel date, October 12, you can book it at 10:00 am on September 12 in Japan time.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Katrina,

        Actually this train does not have any luggage space. Basically you have to hole your suitcase(s) at your seat. If you can book a seat on the last row, you can squeeze your luggage between the seat and the wall.

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JPRail.com

        1. Hello
          I have purchased a JR Pass and made reservations on the Resort Shirakami from Akita to Hirosaki. However, I didnt have any options to choose my seat as I am travelling with my mother and brother – I had to choose the ‘any’ option for our group. Is there any way of finding out what seats we have been allocated? Ideally we want window seats on the sea side .
          Thank you
          Katie

          1. Hi Katie,

            In case that the travelers are 2 or more, usually at least one passenger will get the window side. But you cannot find which side, mountain or seaside at the time of online reservation unfortunately. There is no ways to find it now. You have to make sure when you collect the ticket.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    I was wondering if I were to purchase the JR Pass outside of Japan, will I be able to make an online seat reservation for Resort Shirakami through JR East online reservation system before arriving to Japan? Bearing in mind that at the point of making this online seat reservation, I would only have an Exchange Order, not the actual JR Pass. (I will have to exchange for actual JR Pass when I arrive Japan)

    Looking forward to hear from you!

    Kind regards,
    Eves

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I would like to take the Resort Shirakami in January.

    I know the schedule is not out till the end of October, but I assume it will run weekends.

    For reservations, do you know which car faces Aomori, and which seat is on the sea-side?

    I have been on the Gono line about 10 years ago on a local train, but that had no reserved seats.

    For most of the trip we had one car to ourselves.

    We were quite surprised when it stopped at Fukaura and the driver left the train. In the end the train sat there for about an hour, so we went for a walk but there were no shops open. By accident we found a small office building which turned out the be the city district office and it had a cafeteria.

    They were quite surprised to see a western couple, but happy to sell us a ramen to fill our stomach and kill some time.

    It’s quirky moments like this that keep bringing us back to Japan.

    Peter.

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