Most popular train in Kyushu now! Access to Ibusuki from Kagoshima, Limited Express Ibusuki no Tamatebako

Cruising train
Ibusuki no Tamatebako is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. Black and White paint is very creative. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Ibusuki no Tamatebako is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. Black and White paint is very creative. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Ibusuki no Tamatebako is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. Black and White paint is very creative. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Ibusuki no Tamatebako (指宿のたまて箱) is limited express train that is operated between Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央) and Ibusuki (指宿). Japan Rail Pass completely cover this train with no extra charge. But there is no non reserved seat. Reservation must be required.

This is the first limited express train on this section, Ibusuki-Makurazaki line. This train runs very slow and is operated for sightseeing along the shoreline of Kagoshima inlet. This train is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. This train has the true Japanese atmosphere. The crew attendants are on board. Since this train has been started to operate, this is one of most popular train. It is very hard to book a seat.

*I tried to book only two days after starting to sell. Five of six trips were completely sold out. One trips was too early for my schedule. So I was forced to give up!

I will show you many images of this train and would like to share the details with you.

Route and schedule

White mist came out above the door. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

This train connects Kagoshima-Chuo with Ibusuki in approximately 55 minutes. There is a crews on the train. They guide about the scenery and sell drinks, snacks and souvenirs. Ibusuki no Tamatebako is named from the legend of “Urashima Taro” (=浦島太郎). In this story, Taro had a journey to undersea kingdom “Ryugu”. He enjoyed stay there in several days. But when he came back from Ryugu, it had been 700 years since he left. He received a box at Ryugu. When he opened it, white smoke came out from the box. Taro became a gray-haired and wrinkle-faced old man. This box’s name is “Tamatebako”. So when you take this train, white mist came out from above of the door. This is one of the sense of fun in this train.

This train runs along Kagoshima bay (鹿児島湾, a.k.a. Kinko bay=錦江湾). You can see the active volcano, Mt. Sakurajima (桜島) when you depart from Kagoshima-chuo station. And you will see the shoreline of Kagoshima bay. Basically the seat at left side on the way to Ibusuki and the right side on the way to Kagoshima-chuo have better view. I will show you the seat map of this train below.

There are three round trips between Kagoshima-Chuo and Ibusuki. This train stop at Kiire only other than departure/arrival stations. The time required on each sections are the following:

Kagoshima Chuo – (about 30 mins) – Kiire – (20-24 mins) – Ibusuki

If you need the timetable, please check the latest timetable at JR Kyushu official website.

View Limited Express Ibusuki-no-Tamatebako in a larger map

Accommodation and train formations

You will be excited when you go in this train. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

“Ibusuki no Tamatebako” is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. There are only two cars that are owned by JR Kyushu. This series was used as the commute train. But it was completely redesigned by JR Kyushus’ chief designer, Eiji Mitooka. As I mentioned his name many times on this website, he design with sense of fun and very creative. You cannot believe this train used be a commute train when you go in this car. It is same idea of Hayato no Kaze, Izaburo/Shinpei and other JR Kyushus’ tranis. The lots of wood material are used in this car. You will feel Japanese traditional atmosphere at many places in this train.

The seat configuration is 2+2 and the seat pitch is around 980 mm. But there are many types of seats there. Some seats are facing a counter. This type of seat is completely different from a regular seat. And also one of my frequent readers, James mentioned to me that it is very important to choose the seat. Because you cannot enjoy a nice view through the window at some seats. I will show you the seat map too.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.




Sanitary space

Service counter

Train formation


R=Reserved ordinary seat

As I mentioned to you, this train has many kind of seat. First of all, please refer this seat map. It’s in Japanese. But you may be able to guess that map means. There are two maps. Above image is Car#1 and below one is Car#2. You found some “O”, “X” and “△”. Those signs mean the level of view from through the window. The wall or pole bother your view at several seats. so “O” means good. “X” means bad. And “△” means fair.
And also you found some Japanese text beside the signs. The meaning of these Japanese texts are following:
鹿児島中央行き(上り列車での眺望)→ This means “the view on the train to Kagoshima-chuo”.
指宿行き(下り列車での眺望)→ This means “the view on the train to Ibusuki”.
Please check which seat you can book at the time of booking.


  1. SP says:

    Hi Takeshi-San,

    As we might be driving round Kyushu, what do we do with our car if we want to board this train? Do we do a quick day trip by taking the earliest train and try to catch the last train back from Ibusuki, and meanwhile, park our car near Kagoshima-Chuo stn? We will have many luggages with us….

    • Hi SP san,

      I think that is the easiest way. You can park your car near the station and take a train. I believe there are some parking around the station. But I don’t have any info about the parking near the station.


      Takeshi /

  2. kamal says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    it’s this train just go Ibusuki for the last stop.

    if yes, what train that i can catch if i want go beyond this station and what interesting place that can i go after ibusuki.


    • Hi Kamal san,

      You can take an ordinary local train after Ibusuki. But train does not run frequently. Use hyperdia to check it.

      The scenery is nice on this line. But there is no very interesting spot after Ibusuki. For train fan, Nishi-Oyama station is southmost in all JR stations. But it’s not a tourist spot either. There is only small sign on the platform.


      Takeshi /

  3. Russell says:

    Hi Takeshi-san your seat map isn’t working any more … do you have another one? Thank you!

  4. tay says:

    Hi, actually how do you book a seat for this kind of train? At the station? And what about SL Hitoyoshi train? Really want to ride it.

  5. James says:

    So popular they are adding one extra carriage, converted from はやとの風

    • JPRail says:

      Hi James,
      I’m in Japan now. I tried to reserve a seat before I came to Japan. But I found a few seat left on the earliest train only. It was too early to get it because I would be Kagoshima by the earliest Sakura from Shin-Osaka.
      It is good news that Ibutama will have some more seat. Kyushu trains are too attractive. I’m very impressed by Eiji Mitooka’s concept and design.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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