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JR Kyushu unveils new sightseeing train colored after local forest, river

JR Kyushu's new sightseeing train named "Kawasemi Yamasemi" is unveiled to the media at a factory in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Feb. 27, 2017. (Mainichi)

KITAKYUSHU -- Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) on Feb. 27 unveiled its new luxury sightseeing train "Kawasemi Yamasemi," which will debut on March 4 between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi stations in Kumamoto Prefecture.

    The two-carriage train, which features abundant use of wood from local forests in its interior, was shown to the media at a factory in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

    "We hope the train will run as a symbol of disaster recovery," said JR Kyushu President Toshihiko Aoyagi. It will be the first sightseeing train to be launched in Kumamoto Prefecture in the wake of the Kumamoto earthquakes in April last year.

    The "Kawasemi Yamasemi" train was designed by Eiji Mitooka, who also worked on the popular luxury sleeper train "Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu." The first carriage of the "Kawasemi Yamasemi" is painted in blue, evoking the image of the Kuma River along the railway line, while the second carriage is painted in green, representing the forests in the Kuma region in Kumamoto Prefecture.

    The tables and counters inside the train are made with Japanese cypress, or hinoki, supplied by a local lumber association, with the aim of providing a sense of warmth and natural scent to passengers. A bar inside the train will offer local "Kuma Shochu" distilled liquor as well as lunch boxes stuffed with local specialties.

    The "Kawasemi Yamasemi" is the 11th sightseeing train to be launched by JR Kyushu. Named after wild birds inhabiting the area, the train was made by remodeling a diesel train at a cost of some 230 million yen. It has a passenger capacity of about 70 and will make three round trips between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi stations per day. The one way fare will be 3,270 yen.

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