Enjoy premium Japanese Sake on board. Cruising train Koshino Shu*Kura

Cruising train
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You can enjoy Jazz performance and great view of Sea of Japan on board. (C) James Chuang
You can enjoy Jazz performance and great view of Sea of Japan on board. (C) James Chuang

This train, “Koshino Shu*Kura runs in Niigata prefecture. Niigata is known as one of the biggest production of rice in Japan. And also many kinds of premium Japanese Sake (rice wine) are produced by this rice in this area. This train has the theme of Japanese Sake and you can taste many kinds of Sake on board. This train’s name, “Koshino Shu*Kura” is the combination of a few words which are Echigo district (=Koshino) where the area train runs, Japanese Sake (=Shu), snow flake(=*) and brewery (=Kura). And also this train runs along the coast of Sea of Japan. You also can enjoy the beautiful scenery.

My reader, James Chuang posted many photos of this train. He allowed me to use these photos and I was very impressed! I would like to share the photos and information with you.

Thank you, James for sharing the beautiful photos.
*James Chuang has copyright for all images in this post.

Seat fee

If you use Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass, this train is fully covered. This is a sort of rapid train. Express surcharge is not required but this train has reserved seat only. So if you use single ticket to take this train, you have to purchase base fare ticket and reserved seat fee 520 yen.

Route, schedule and trip time

Koshino Shu*Kura runs in Niigata prefecture between Takada and Muikamachi. Travel time is approximately 3 hours. This train is sometimes operated between Takada and Echigo-Yuzawa as “Yuzawa Shu*Kura” and between Takada and Niigata as “Ryuto Shu*Kura”. In case of these train operation, travel time is 15 to 30 minutes longer than Koshino Shu*Kura.

This train is operated as seasonal train. It usually runs on weekend and holidays. You can find the updated schedule and operation calender at Category:Season trains schedule.

Accommodation and train formation

The exterior does not llok very special. But the interior is impressive.
The exterior does not llok very special. But the interior is impressive.

Koshino Shu*Kura is operated by renovated KIHA 40/48 series. This fleet was used as local trains throughout Japan. Many of this fleets were renovated completely and have different interior. The fleet for this train, Koshino Shu*Kura has cozy and very nice accommodation. You can find the images below.

This train is three car formation.


*R=Reserved seat P/S=public space and snack booth
Smoking is not allowed on this train.

It has two passenger’s cars at both end and in the middle, there is the public space and snack booth. The seat of car #1 is designed for group and couple travellers. There are boxed booth seats and small bench seats.

Box seat at car#1
Box seat at car#1
Bench seat at car#1
Bench seat at car#1

At car #2, you can enjoy Jazz performance and enjoy some snacks and Japanese Sake. You saw the image of Jazz performance at the top of this post.

Public space
Public space
Snack booth
Snack booth

Complementary Sake is available. But if you want more, you can purchase it at this snack booth. 500 yen and 1000 yen vouchers are sold. You have to use this voucher to shop any items in this train. Car #3 is common reserved seats. If you are individual traveller, this seat is most suitable.

Complementary Japanese Sake is offered on board.
Complementary Japanese Sake is offered on board.
The seat has same quality as common limited express trains.
The seat has same quality as common limited express trains.

You can enjoy this train at whole part of trip. Of course you can take this train partially. But please do not miss the scenery of coast side. The view of Sea of Japan is amazing!


  1. Dulanja Perera says:

    Dear Takeshi san
    Will you be kind enough to tell me whether snacks and sake onboard RYOTA SHUKURA are free of charge for JR EAST(NAGANO,NIIGATA) PASS holders?
    Thank you

  2. Kuen Loh says:

    Takeshi San,

    I would like to book a trip on the Koshino Shu Kura on May 14, 2019. But I arrive only on May 11. Do you think I can get 3 tickets for this train from Joetsu Myoko to Niigita?



  3. Hwee Tat Tan says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,
    I’ll be staying in Niigata from 9/8 – 11/8.
    I would like to know if Ryuto Shu * Kura is similar to Koshino Shu * Kura, that is, I can enjoy Japanese sake on board the train.
    If it is, how do I go about planning a full day trip on 11/8 with visit to Takada Park, view the sunset at Omigawa and return back to Niigata?
    Please kindly advice. Thank you.

    • Hi Hwee san,

      It’s same train. The difference is operation segment. Koshino shukura runs between Joetsu Myoko and Tokamachi. Ryuto shukura runs between Joetsu Myoko and Niigata.

      It’s hard to combine this train ride and Takada park. Because this train runs from Niigata in the afternoon. Please see the link below to find the timetable.

      If you take this train from Niigata, you will be Takada in the evening. If you take this train from Joetsu-Myoko, it’s too early to visit Takada park. And you cannot see the sunset. If you really want to visit Takada park, see the sunset and take this train in one day, you have to go to Takada and need to go back to Niigata, you have to get Takada in early morning by local train. And then take Shukura to Niigata. And then take Shukura again to see the sunset. So you have to make two round trips. This is only way to do it.

      At last, August 11 is in Obon period, which is the busiest period in the year. I think it is very hard to make a reservation for Shukura. All trains are very busy in this period. Especially August 11 is the first day of Obon. Everybody go back to hometown. It is busier than other days in Obon. If you can, August 10 is slightly slower than August 11.

      Hope you can make it.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Hwee Tat Tan says:

        Dear Takeshi-san,
        Thank you for your advice.
        Is it possible to reserve the train tickets for Shukura online? Or reservation can only be done while I am in Japan at JR East ticket office.

  4. Eddy says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    So when do I have to pay the extra cost? Can I pay when doing seat reservation at JR East Travel Service Center?
    I checked Hyperdia and I found Ltd. Exp Shirayuki (fare 240 yen, seat fee 210 yen) besides JR Shinetsu Line Rapid. So these trains also also not covered by JR Pass? So how much do I have to pay for the extra cost for Koshino Shu*kura from Nagaoka St to Joetsumyoko St?
    You said in this article above that this train is fully covered by JR Pass and JR East Pass. Did you mean the route between Tokamachi St and Takada St? (Takada St is between Naoetsu St and Joetsumyoko St, isn’t it)
    Does Genbi Shinkansen from Echigo Yuzawa which departs at 15.20 arrive at Nagaoka St at 15.50? So I can combine these two trains at Nagaoka St?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Eddy,

      I mentioned that seat fee is covered fully by JR pass and JR East pass. The segment between Joetsu-Myoko and Naoetsu belong to Echigo Tokimeki Railway which is not JR. So you need to pay 240 yen base fare anyway. If you take Shirayuki, you need to pay both fare and seat fee. Shukura is not limited express. Seat fee for Shirayuki includes limited express surcharge. So you need to pay only base fare to ride Shukura. I think you can pay this extra fee when you book a seat by JR pass. But some of station do not issue a ticket for Echigo Tokimeki Railway. In this case, you may pay extra fee on board or when you exit at Joetsumyoko.

      You can combine Genbi and Shukura.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Eddy says:

    Hello Takeshi,

    Can I take this train from Nagaoka St to Joetsumyoko St with JR Pass?
    What time does this train depart from Nagaoka St (to Joetsumyoko St)?
    Where can I see the time schedule of this train?
    I hope to take this train in June 2.

    Thanks in advance,

  6. Laura says:

    Dear Takeshi San,

    I’m interested to take Koshino Shu*Kura on upcoming trip. How do I reserve seat on this train? I can’t seem to find this train on the JR train reservation online. Thank you.

  7. Joy Lomasney says:

    Hello, we are travelling to Niigata between June 10 – 20 / 2017. We love the Koshino Shu*Kura train route! Can you please confirm if this train will run during this period? We want to try premium sake on this train please. Thank you kindly for your help and guidance. We love Japan! Joy (Melbourne Australia)

  8. Samantha says:

    Hello,Does the Koshino Shu*Kura operates in Mid Feb 2017?
    Thank you.

  9. jas says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    Two of us will be in Tokyo from 10 -16 june. As we plan to have a slower and more relax trip, any recommendation of trips?
    I read this post about a sake tasting train. Sounds interesting.

    • Hi Jas san,

      It’s very hard to say. There are too many things to do. But if you make a day trip from Tokyo, you will spend one full day to take this train. I don’t think this is slower trip. Sorry but as I mentioned, I cannot make a plan personally. Otherwise other readers ask me and it’s too much.

      If you make a plan, I can suggest. So please make sure what you want to do and what train you want to take.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Tak says:

    As you know, you can see beautiful sunset at Oumigawa station if the weather is good. Usually car #1 is reserved only for packaged tours. If you purchase a reservation ticket at a JR station with JR pass, you will get a seat in car #3. Personally, it doesn’t really matter whether you get a car #1 or #3 because you can always go to car #2 to enjoy music, sake and view.

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