FUKUOKA -- The Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) unveiled its new sightseeing train called "36 Plus 3" in the southwestern Japan city of Kitakyushu on Sept. 29.
The outside of the train is largely painted black, and the inside is a mix of classical Japanese and modern styles using traditional Fukuoka Prefecture crafts and tatami mats. The train will start operations on Oct. 16.
It is based on the concept of "running Kyushu," and the cars are a large-scale renovation of the 787 series which began operating in 1992 as the limited express train Tsubame. Designer Eiji Mitooka, who worked on the JR Kyushu touring train "Seven Stars in Kyushu," was in charge of the latest design. Okawa Kumiko wood joinery was used for the window frames, ceilings and other parts.
The train consists of six cars, with 13 individual rooms and the capacity for 105 passengers including 57 seats and wheelchair-accessible seats. Passengers have to take off their shoes to board the first and sixth cars, which have tatami-mat floors. There is a buffet serving light meals in the third car, and an event space in the fourth.
The train was apparently named "36 Plus 3" as the Kyushu region is the 36th largest island in the word, as well as after the three feelings of "surprise, excitement and happiness." JR Kyushu President Toshihiko Aoyagi said during the unveiling ceremony on Sept. 29, "We would like to show Kyushu's charms to the rest of Japan and the whole world."
The sightseeing train will take passengers on a five-day ride across seven prefectures in the region. Customers can also opt for a one-day trip plan. A ticket including meals starts from 12,000 yen per adult per day, including tax.
(Japanese original by Munehisa Ishida, Kyushu Business News Department)