Winter is cold in Japan but it is still very popular season. Especially northern and mountain areas, such as Hokkaido, Shirakawago, Echigo-Yuzawa are very popular for Asian tourist to see the snow. And New Year’s holidays from late December to Early January is the busiest season in Japan. This is very challenging to book a seat in New Year’s holidays period. Early February is busy season in Hokkaido because of Sapporo winter festival. And also many Asian tourist come over Japan in Chinese New Years period.
In this post, I show you many seasonal trains that will run in major tourist spots from December 2019 to February 2020.
*If you are looking for fall seasonal train schedule (September to November), please see the post, Summary of 2019 fall seasonal trains of JR trains.
*2020 spring seasonal train schedule (March to May) will come up in late January in 2020.
- 1 JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)
- 2 JR East (Tohoku and Kanto area)
- 2.1 Genbi Shinkansen
- 2.2 SL Banetsu Monogatari
- 2.3 Rapid Resort Minori
- 2.4 Izu Craile
- 2.5 Toreiyu Tsubasa
- 2.6 POKÉMON with YOU train
- 2.7 Shu*Kura
- 2.8 Rapid Resort Shirakami
- 2.9 Kairi
- 2.10 HIGH RAIL 1375
- 3 JR Central (Chubu, Tokai and Hokuriku)
- 4 JR West (Kansai, Hokuriku and Chugoku)
- 4.1 Hanayome Noren
- 4.2 Belles montagnes et mer
- 4.3 Mahoroba
- 4.4 Hello Kitty Shinkansen
- 4.5 Setouchi Marine View
- 4.6 OO (maru maru) no Hanashi
- 4.7 Ametsuchi
- 5 JR Kyushu (Kyushu)
- 5.1 Limited Express Yufuin-no-Mori
- 5.2 Limited Express Aso Boy!
- 5.3 Limited Express Umisachi-Yamasachi
- 5.4 A Ressha de Iko (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train)
- 5.5 Limited Express Hayato no Kaze
JR Hokkaido (Hokkaido area)
SL Fuyu no Shitsugen train (Winter train to Kushiro marsh by Steam Locomotive)
This train is operated by steam locomotive. This is a cruising train that goes through Kushiro marsh. It is similar type train to Kushiro Shitsugen Norokko train in summer period. But this train is not operated by Norokko train. There are reserved seat only. You need to book it before boarding.
|Kushiro 11:05||Shibecha 12:35|
|Shibecha 14:00||Kushiro 15:40|
This train stops at Higashi-Kushiro, Kushiro Shitsugen, Toro, and Kayanuma.
Ryuhyo Monogatari (means “the story of drift ice”)
Shiretoko is very popular destination in winter time for Ryuhyo (流氷=Drift Ice) viewing. Open air passengers car train, “Ryuhyo Norokko train” used to run in this season. But it was discontinued in previous season. This train will replace Ryuhyo Norokko train in Drift Ice season but this is not open air train. This train will be operated by a refurbished ordinary diesel fleet.
February 1– 29
|#1||Abashiri 09:45||Shiretoko-Shari 10:40|
|#2||Shiretoko-Shari 11:30||Abashiri 12:30|
|#3||Abashiri 12:45||Shiretoko-Shari 13:35|
|#4||Shiretoko-Shari 13:48||Abashiri 14:46|
*This train stop at Kitahama and Hamakoshimizu.
JR East (Tohoku and Kanto area)
This newest Shinkansen train is called “The World Fastest Art Gallery”. There are many artwork displayed in the train. This train is operated as train name, “Toki”.
All trains stops at all stations between Echigo-yuzawa and Niigata.
Please see the post below to find more information about Genbi Shinkansen.
SL Banetsu Monogatari
It is operated by one of the legendary steam locomotive “C57” and the old style carriages between Niitsu and Aizu-Wakamatsu.
Niitsu 10:05 – Aizu Wakamatsu 13:35
Aizu Wakamatsu 15:25 – Niitsu 18:40
The train stops at Niitsu, Gosen, Sakihana, Mikawa, Tsugawa, Hideya, Nozawa, Yamato, Kitakata and Shiokawa.
If you need more info about this train, please see the post below:
Rapid Resort Minori
This train connects Sendai with Shinjo via Naruko Onsen. It is operated by specialized train. You can see some images at JR East Sendai branch site.
Sendai 09:13 – 11:00 Naruko Onsen 11:23 – Shinjo 12:26
Shinjo 15:01 – 16:00 Naruko Onsen 16:02 – Sendai 17:39
This train makes a stop at Matsuhima, Kogota, Furukawa, Iwadeyama, Yubikan, Kawatabi-Onsen, Naruko-Gotenyu, Naruko-Onsen, Nakayamadaira-Onsen, Akakura-Onsen, Mogami and Semi-Onsen.
You can find more information about this train at the post below:
This is the first ever Shinkansen train that has the foot Onsen bath in the car.
|Station||Toreiyu Tsubasa #1||Station||Toreiyu Tsubasa #2|
You can find more information about this train at the post below.
POKÉMON with YOU train
Simply it is Pokemon theme train as you see Google image above. It offers fun and it is very kids friendly train.
Shu*Kura runs as promoting Niigata local product, especially Japanese Sake (pure rice wine). It is like Sake tasting train. You can enjoy many kinds of Sake on board.
This train runs on several routes in Niigata prefecture. There are three routes in this spring.
You can find more information about this train at the post below:
This train connects Akita with Aomori through Gono line that has one of the greatest scenery. This train is operated by the specialized train or the newest Hybrid train. This train has only reserved seat.
Operation dates and timetable
This train makes a stop at Oiwaki, Hachirogata, Moritake, Higashi-Noshiro, Noshiro, Akita-Shirakami, Iwadate, Juniko, WeSpa-Tsubakiyama, Fukaura, Senjojiki, Ajigasawa, Mutsu-Morita, Kizukuri, Goshogawara, Mutsu-Tsuruta, Itayanagi, Kawabe, Hirosaki and Shin-Aomori. If you need more information about this train, please refer the post below:
This train has just been introduced in October. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the coastline. You can add the local cuisine bento box. (advanced reservation required)
Niigata 10:12 – 13:19 Sakata
Sakata 15:02 – Niigata 18:31
*The arrival time at Niigata on Dec 13 and Dec 20 are 18:33.
Niigata 10:12 – 12:44 Sakata
Sakata 16:00 – Niigata 18:31
*The arrival time at Niigata on Feb 8 is 18:33.
HIGH RAIL 1375
This train runs on Oumi line which goes on the highest elevation in all JR lines. You can enjoy mountain fresh air by riding this train.
Timetable (HIGH RAIL 1)
Timetable (HIGH RAIL 2)
Timetable (HIGH RAIL Hoshizora)
Please see the post below to find more information about HIGH RAIL 1375.
JR Central (Chubu, Tokai and Hokuriku)
This is very popular and hard to book a seat. This train does not have any non reserved seat. You cannot take this train without seat reservation. This train is operated by old type Limited Express train set. But there is no berth or compartment.
To Ogaki – Dec 20-30
To Tokyo – Dec 21-31
Please see the post below to find more information about Moonlight Nagara.
JR West (Kansai, Hokuriku and Chugoku)
This is new train that will start to run in this fall in Kanazawa. This train takes you to Wakura Onsen in Noto peninsula.
The train makes stops at Nanao and Hakui. All seats are reserved. You cannot take this train without booking.
Belles montagnes et mer
This is new train that will start to run in this fall in Takaoka. This train runs on both Himi line and Johana line.
Himi line (between Takaoka and Himi)
Johana line (between Takaoka and Johana)
Train #4 runs between Himi and Takaoka only. It does not go to Shin-Takaoka.
Train makes stops at Takaoka, Fushiki and Amaharashi.
Train makes stops at Shin-Takaoka, Tonami, Fukuno and Fukumitsu.
Shin-Osaka 10:03 – 10:53 Nara
Nara 16:56 – 17:47 Shin-Osaka
The train does not stop at any stations between Shin-Osaka and Nara.
Hello Kitty Shinkansen
This is one of scheduled Kodama train that is operated by the specialized “Hello Kitty” wrapping fleet.
This train stops at all stations between Shin-Osaka and Hakata on the Sanyo Shinkansen line.
Setouchi Marine View
This train runs along the coast of Setonaikai sea between Hiroshima and Mihara via Kure.
This train set will be replaced by new fleet “etSETOra” in 2020 fall. December 22 is the last day of operation by this train set.
This train runs between Mihara and Onomichi in October and November only.
OO (maru maru) no Hanashi
This train runs along the coast of Sea of Japan.
Weekend and holidays until February 20 except December 28 to January 5.
|to Higashi-Hagi||to Shin-Shimonoseki|
|to Izumoshi||to Tottori|
SL Christmas and SL Tsuwano Inari
This train is operated by a steam locomotive between Shin-Yamaguchi and Tsuwano as SL Yamaguchi from spring to fall. In winter season, the train is operated as SL Christmas and SL Tsuwano Inari. But basically these trains are same as SL Yamaguchi. This train has only reserved seat. (Japanese site link)
Dec 22 (SL Christmas)
Jan 1-3 (SL Tsuwano Inari)
|to Tsuwano||to Shin-|
JR Kyushu (Kyushu)
Limited Express Yufuin-no-Mori
It is very popular train that connect Hakata and Yufuin. This train runs daily basis but some of trips do not run due to the annual inspection.
Train #1, #2, # 5 and #6 will not run on the following dates:
Train #3 and #4 will not run on the following dates:
Limited Express Aso Boy!
This train suppose to run between Mt. Aso and Kumamoto by the train that have the panoramic windows at the both end. But due to the massive earthquake in a few years ago, this segment has been closed since then. This train run between Beppu and Aso temporary.
This train makes a stop at Nakahanda, Miemachi, Ogata, Bungo-Takeda, Bungo-ogi and Miyaji too.
This train has only reserved seat. Please see the post below to get more information about this train.
Limited Express Umisachi-Yamasachi
This train goes through Nichinan coastline.
|Stations||to Nango||to Miyazaki|
This train makes stops at Tayoshi, Kodomo no Kuni amd Nichinan too.
Please find more information about this train in the post below.
A Ressha de Iko (A列車で行こう=Take the ‘A’ train)
This train connects Kumamoto with Misumi. Misumi is the gateway station for Amakusa. JR Kyushu add one more trip after March 16.
Only two round trips, #1,#2,#5 and #6 will run on the following dates:
Please see the post below to find more information.
Limited Express Hayato no Kaze
This train runs between Kagoshima-Chuo and Yoshimatsu. It currently runs as the scheduled train and it runs everyday. However after March 17, this train will runs as the seasonal train.
This train makes stops at Kurino, Osumi-Yokogawa, Hayato and Kagoshima too.
Please see the post below to find more information about this train.