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Sightseeing train narrating west Japan island's history launched after virus delay

A new sightseeing train departs from JR Kochi Station in western Japan on July 4, 2020. (Mainichi/Shiori Kitamura)

KOCHI -- Shikoku Railway Co. (JR Shikoku) in western Japan launched a new sightseeing train between Kochi and Kubokawa stations on July 4, after a delay of over two months due to the novel coronavirus.

The "Shikoku Tosa Toki no Yoake no Monogatari" train is the third installation of new sightseeing trains that run through Japan's western island of Shikoku, following "Iyonada Monogatari" that makes trips throughout Ehime Prefecture, and "Shikoku Mannaka Sennen Monogatari" that travels around the two prefectures of Kagawa and Tokushima.

The newest installation, whose name roughly translates to "Tales of the dawn of an era in Shikoku," is a sightseeing train that is themed after historical figures like legendary samurai Ryoma Sakamoto, and guests can enjoy magnificent views of the Niyodo River and the Pacific Ocean from the carriage windows.

Tickets for premium green cars with reserved seating cost 3,970 yen (about $37) for adults and 2,630 yen for children between Kochi and Kubokawa stations. The train consists of two rail cars and can accommodate up to 47 people. It operates on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays. Other appealing features include the serving of special dishes that use plenty of ingredients produced in Kochi Prefecture for a separate fee of 5,000 yen, including tax, as well as the hospitality of high school and university students within the prefecture, who serve as guides and sell products inside the train.

The sightseeing train was originally set to debut on April 18, but operations were suspended due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. JR Shikoku is carrying out preventative measures against the virus such as disinfection and temperature checks before passengers board the train, and has set up acrylic boards in interactive spaces inside the train cars.

(Japanese original by Shiori Kitamura, Kochi Bureau)

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