Friday, 23 October 2009

A Ride On A Steam Locomotive

SL Banetsu Monogatari-go is a special express train that runs on a 126-kilometer track from Niigata to Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima and vice versa. This steam locomotive is a C57-180 type train that was in service from 1946 to 1969.The train made a comeback on Apr 19, 1999 celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year.

This trip of ours was covered by JR East Pass too and we used this journey for our second day of our 3-day pass.
Passengers can enjoy the magnificent scenery from the large windows in the observation car. The seats here were hugely popular so you had to rush to get one.
At one of the stops. There were 9 stops made from Aizu Wakamatsu to Niigata station but only two that were long enough to allow passengers to go down and take photos around the station.
Letters sent from this train will be mailed in the original issue postmark. We sent a postcard we got as a gift from the shop to our home. Another unique souvenir for us. A train postmarked postcard!
The journey was kept lively in between the stops with passengers playing jan-ken (rock, paper, scissors) with the train staff to win train goodies such as keychains, straps, magnets and stickers. It was great fun participating but we didn't win anything.

It was interesting to note that the interior of the train and the uniform of the crew were designed in a style unique to the Taisho era which is also the period when the Banetsu line was opened.
The seats inside the train. Four seats faced each other in all cars so it was pretty comfortable for a family to sit and enjoy the scenery together during the trip. However, we were unlucky enough (because we reserved our seats quite late compared to the others) to be sharing our facing seats with a particularly fat, perspiring guy on this leg of our journey.

I don't know what was his reason for taking this rather slow train from Aizuwakamatsu to Niigata because it sure looks like he wasn't taking it for the love of the train or the scenery. What he did were mostly sleep (so soundly that he snored) and eat and took up 3/4 of the seat. But we didn't let it spoil our trip, but rather it made the trip quite amusing for us.

The overall journey was simply an awesome one despite us sharing seats with the guy. The SL Banetsu Monogatari-go follows the Agano river through the densely forested mountains and the scenery was fantastic. If you are travelling from Aizuwakamatsu on this train, make sure you are seated on the left side of the train. More scenic views from that side. And along the way, you get see locals waving at you and the train and also quite a number of photographers waiting to get the perfect shot of this train. You can wave back and stick out your head because the windows in this train can be opened. We didn't open ours because it'll interrupt our seat mate's deep slumber. *^-^*

The train only runs on weekends and holidays so if want to take a trip on this train, please take note of the schedule here.


  1. I like the picture of the train! (1st photo)

    Wah! Facing a fat, perspiring guy in the train? Haha! Too bad you can't open the windows to stick your head out all because of him! : )

  2. @foong,
    See the leg lah... who took the photo! LOL

    Can open but don't know why, we are so thoughtful as in don't want to disturb his deep slumber if we did so. :D

  3. I like the viewing deck in the train cabin. Looks pretty neat. I suppose if you don't use the JR East pass, it would cost quite a bit to travel on these locomotives.

    A train-marked postcard would be something unique!

  4. this post made me remember samurai x where they featured this kind of train in a certain episode =) i like how they keep the uniform and interior making the riding experience more memorable =)

    happy weekend to you and your family =)

  5. I would love to ride on that too! Anyway, I finally got my internet to transfer to my new place, so far so good! Just drop by to say HI ! Have a great weekend yeah! ^_^

  6. @Mei Teng,
    Yeah, if not for the JR East Pass (or JR Pass) the trip cost us quite a bit. Thank God for a tourist discount, eh? ;)

    The postacrd with the SL postmark is indeed unique and a memorable souvenir for us. :)

  7. @Ayie,
    I remember too! When they went to Edo right? :D

    Both Zaini and I are huge fans of Samurai X.

    Happy weekend to you too!

  8. @Cindy,
    So all sorted out at your new place? That's good to hear. :)

    Happy weekend too! :)

  9. the interior of the train looks incredibly cosy, spacious and neat. the postcard sure looks like a wonderful and memorable souvenir.

  10. That must have been so much fun. The train looks so comfortable and clean. A fantastic memory for you and your family.

  11. This looks like fun. Years ago we road a train in Canada that was great fun and the scenery was marvelous. So nice to have someone else drive; but unlike a don't just have to sit there.


  12. @Life Ramblings,
    That they are. And I usually will fall to sleep once I'm in a train in Japan, but luckily in this train, there were so much to do I didn't waste any time sleeping (or sitting down for that matter) :-)

  13. @Poetic Shutterbug,
    It was really fun! And with all the activities with the staff and enjoying the scenery too, there was never a dull moment during the journey. :-)

  14. @Sandy,
    True, unlike in a plane, we can walk around in trains. :)

  15. Oh now that is interesting.. playing games with the train staffs to win prizes.. keep the passengers entertain and not bored throug out the journey... good concept :).

    A Mail Box right in the train... how convenient :). Unlike our country... want a mail box... we will find is it maybe say a few kms away... lucky to those who are staying nearby one. :P.

    Lovely scenery to look out in the train... but I feel Malaysia cannot do that... see traffic jam?

  16. @ladyviral,
    yeah, the ride was really entertaining due to the many activities on and off the train. :)

    Indeed lovely scenery because the place is a bit out of big city. We got scenery on our train route also, mah. Of rubber trees and palm trees. ;)

  17. you are? yes when they went to edo and kenshin had to fight those pirates or trainjackers! have you seen the oav/ova? i watched all the way the end until kenshin and kaori passed away =)

  18. @Ayie,
    No... have yet to see. Sooooo many animes to watch. :D
    I have to look for them now.


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