YONAGO, Tottori Prefecture--The Ametuchi train will run a special service between Izumoshi and Masuda stations on March 20-21 that will take travelers to the Iwami region in western Shimane Prefecture for the first time.
The two-car sightseeing train that accommodates up to 59 passengers started operations in July last year, running between Tottori and Izumoshi stations on the Sanin Line of West Japan Railway Co. (JR West).
The Shimane prefectural government and other parties will cooperate fully for the special two-day service.
According to JR West’s Yonago branch, Nippon Travel Agency Co. will charter the Ametuchi for the tours in March.
The tours will start from Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata stations to attract people from the Kansai, Sanyo and Kyushu regions.
Passengers of both inbound and outbound routes will visit various sightseeing spots in the Iwami region.
The travelers can enjoy seafood and locally brewed sake in each place they visit, as well as the traditional performing art of Iwami "kagura" (sacred Shinto music and dancing). Local residents await at each station to welcome the visitors.
The tour costs about 30,000 yen ($272) per person, and will go on sale later this month.
Chartered for the tour, the special service train will not be available for regular passengers on March 20-21, according to the railway operator.
The interior of the Ametuchi’s first car features traditional crafts from Shimane Prefecture, while the second car incorporates those from Tottori Prefecture.
Riding the Ametuchi usually requires the passenger fare and an additional charge for a green-car ticket for a reserved seat.
The sightseeing train currently makes one round trip per day between Tottori and Izumoshi stations mainly on weekends and Mondays.
After it started operating, the train had an average passenger occupancy rate of at least 80 percent per month, although the Sanin region was affected by torrential downpours in July last year.
About 8,000 people, including individual and group passengers, had ridden the Ametuchi by the end of November, JR West said.
"We’d like to determine future operations after seeing how it works for the first endeavor," Yasuo Umetani, head of the Yonago branch, said at a news conference on Dec. 17.