TOTTORI--West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) plans to let passengers experience the Sanin region's gorgeous sites and rich culture in relative luxury but without breaking the bank.
The Ametuchi sightseeing train is scheduled to start services in July 2018. It will make round trips between Tottori and Izumoshi stations on the JR Sanin Line on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays.
The railway operator said the prices for the new tourist train will be comparable to those for "Green Cars" (first-class carriages) of other trains.
The popularity of the Sanin region, which covers Tottori and Shimane prefectures, has grown since the introduction of the Twilight Express Mizukaze luxury sleeper train.
The start of the Ametuchi service will coincide with the Sanin Destination Campaign, which gets under way between July and September next year. But JR West plans to continue the Ametuchi operations even after the campaign ends.
"We will provide careful services that will prompt people to travel to the Sanin region just to ride the new train," Yasuo Umetani, head of JR West’s Yonago branch, said at a news conference on Aug. 17 at the Tottori governor’s official residence in Tottori.
The planned train will consist of two cars and accommodate up to 59 passengers.
The exterior will be colored deep blue to represent the ocean and skies in Sanin, while the lower parts of both sides of the cars will feature silver wavy lines that symbolize mountains in the region and the "hamon" pattern of traditional swords.
Sanin is famed for its "tatara" steel-making method.
Japanese cedar wood from Chizu, Tottori Prefecture, pine trees grown in Shimane Prefecture, Inshu "washi" paper, Sekishu tiles and other traditional materials will be used to decorate the interior of the train. Tables will be set up beside the seats.
The concept and design of the train were developed under the supervision of film director Yoshinari Nishikori, who hails from Izumo, Shimane Prefecture. The coloring of the cars was determined by Noboru Yoshida, who is from Matsue, also in the prefecture, and served as art director for "Howl’s Moving Castle" and "Ponyo."
Dishes and beverages made from ingredients produced in Tottori and Shimane prefectures will be served on the Ametuchi.
The train will slow down to allow passengers to take in locations with especially beautiful views, such as Lake Shinjiko and Mount Daisen. It will make all the stops of express trains on the line.
Riding the train will require the passenger fare and an additional 4,500 yen ($41), a price equivalent to the charge for Green Cars of other trains connecting Tottori and Izumoshi stations.