Popular Steam Locomotive train, SL Banetsu Monogatari

Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima, Koriyama, Nikko, Kinugawa-Onsen
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There are many steam locomotive trains in Japan. But this train, SL Banetsu Monogatari is only SL train that has Green seat. And it also has observation car, cafeteria and kids play space. I have received many nice photos of this train from one of my frequent reader, James. I would like to share the information of this train with you.

I would like to thank you, James for your photos.

Seat fee

If you use Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass, this train is fully covered by these passes. If you use single ticket, you can take this train by base fare and reserved seat fee at 510 yen. This train has reserved seat only. This reserved seat fee is mandatory.

This train is Rapid train and not express or limited express. Therefore you don’t need to pay any express surcharge. But if you get on Green car, you have to pay Green seat fee beside base fare.

Route, schedule and trip time

SL Banetsu Monogatari is operated between Niigata and Aizu-Wakamatsu. Travel time is approximately 3.5 hours.

This train is operated as seasonal train. It usually runs from April to November on weekend and holidays. You can find more updated schedule at Category:Season trains schedule.

Timetables (As of fall, 2013)

From Niigata
to Aizu-Wakamatsu
From Aizu-Wakamatsu
to Niigata
Niigata (新潟)9:4319:00
Niitsu (新津)10:04/10:1518:39
Gosen (五泉)10:3118:20
Sakihana (咲花)10:4718:03
Mikawa (三川)11:0317:46
Tsugawa (津川)11:14/11:3017:19/17:34
Hideya (日出谷)11:4617:06
Nozawa (野沢)12:1816:25/16:35
Yamato (山都)12:39/12:4916:06
Kitakata (喜多方)13:07
Shiokawa (塩川駅)13:17
Aizu-Wakamatsu (会津若松)13:3115:25


SL Banetsu Monogatari is operated by renovated 12 series passengers car that is pulled by C57 steam locomotive. 12 series used to be most common passengers car before. But now most of this series were scrapped. This 12 series for SL Banetsu was renovated and add many features. In this past season, upgraded Green car was added. 2+1 seat layout and lots of leg space gives you more comfortable experience. This Green car has the observation space just for Green car’s passengers. If you take ordinary seat, you can enjoy panoramic view at the observation car in the middle of the formations.

*James Chuang has copyright for all images in this post.

Train formation


*R=Reserved seat G=Green seat O=Observation car S=Shop
Smoking is not allowed on this train.


Green car’s exterior

2+1 layout and seat pitch is approximately 1160mm.

Observation space on Green car. Only Green seat passenger can access this space. If you take this train from Aizu-Wakamatsu, this space is just behind locomotive.

There are galleries in Green car’s observation space.

Ordinary seat is box seat layout. But it was renovated and much better than original 12 series seat.

Car #5 is called “Okojo room. It’s kids friendly space.

Car #5 has also retail space. You can purchase local beer, local Sake, bento box and souvenir items of this train.

At Car #4, public observation car. Any passengers can access this space.

There is a mail box at Car #4 in public observation space. If you send a letter from this mail box, SL Banetsu special postmark will be stamped.


  1. May I know breakdowns of all the fees and charges required to take the following journeys on April 5, 2014:

    1. From Tokyo to Niigata (Shinkansen)
    a. Base fee
    b. Reserved seat fee
    c. Express fee
    d. Others
    2. From Niigata to Aizu-Wakamatsu (SL, Banetsu Monogatari)
    a. Base fee
    b. Reserved Fee – 510 yen
    c. Others
    3. From Aizu-Wakamatsu to Koriyama (Aizu Line, rapid??)
    a. Base fee
    b. Reserved seat fee (??)
    c. Express fee (??)
    d. Others
    4. From Koriyama to Tokyo (Shinkansen)
    a. Base fee
    b. Reserved seat fee
    c. Express fee
    d. Others

    Today a friend has just bought us reserved seat tickets for the Banetsu Monogatari line for 510 yen. I strongly believe, at least, base fare has to be purchased on top of this reserved seat ticket.

    Since JR East Railpass covers the SL Banetsu Monogatari journey, will it be more beneficial to purchase a JR East Railpass to cover above journey and also use it for other rides during its validity?


  2. JJ says:

    May i know what are green seats actually? i heard it many times

    but we cannot use the JR Pass for such seats

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