The Toreiyu Tsubasa is a Joyful train operated by JR East, Joyful trains are a special concept in Japan, where the whole point of riding the train is to have fun and enjoy the ride. What makes the Toreiyu special is the interior, that’s built like an onsen resort town. Think of tatami mat seating, locally brewed Sake, and hot foot baths to relax and enjoy the view pass by.
The train is a Tsubasa Shinkansen service, fully decorated to set the mood of going on a luxurious trip to a traditional onsen town in Japan. The interior is made of traditional wooden layout, with bamboo ornamentation. With a special bar that services sake, wine, juice and snacks, locally made in the towns that Toreiyu travels through.
What makes on the onboard experience is special is both the service and seating. When boarding, passengers can order special food and drinks that is typical to the Tohoku area that the trains travels through. This includes a variety of quality sake, wine, grape juice, and a limited selection of Eki-bento boxes.
Then go for the ultimate onboard relaxation and visit the onsen foot baths, a full train car has been reserved to relax. The baths have been positioned in such a way that it's easy to look outside and enjoy the view, while relaxing your feet.
The train layout is as follows. On board the Toreiyu Tsubasa are a total of 6 train cars, numbered car 11 to 16.
Car number 11 has ordinary seats, which is mainly used for commuters and of little interest.
Car 12 through 14 are specially reserved tatami matted seats, with wide seating and good outside views.
Car 15 is the Yuagari Lounge. Here you’ll find the bar and open seating area to meet others guests and start a new conversation.
Car 16 this is the relaxation car with onboard foot baths and special seating. The full train car layout can be seen below.
Photo (c) JR East.
Route and timetable
The route of the Toreiyu Tsubasa runs between Fukushima station and Shinjo station on the Yamagata Shinkansen lines, with one service in each direction. Note that the train only runs on special days. Generally this is the weekend, and national holidays.
The full route and timeline are as follows (as of Jan 2021):
Fukushima - Shinjō
Fukushima | 10:02 (dep.)
Yonezawa | 10:36 (dep.)
Takahata | 10:44 (dep.)
Akayu | 10:50 (dep.)
Kaminoyama-onsen | 11:08 (dep.)
Yamagata | 11:26 (dep.)
Tendō | 11:37 (dep.)
Sakurambo-higashine | 11:45 (dep.)
Murayama | 11:50 (dep.)
Ōishida | 12:00 (dep.)
Shinjō | 12:16 (arr.)
Shinjō - Fukushima
Shinjō | 15:00 (dep.)
Ōishida | 15:16 (dep.)
Murayama | 15:28 (dep.)
Sakurambo-higashine | 15:34 (dep.)
Tendō | 15:40 (dep.)
Yamagata | 16:13 (dep.)
Kaminoyama-onsen | 16:23 (dep.)
Akayu | 16:45 (dep.)
Takahata 16:52 | (dep.)
Yonezawa 17:07 | (dep.)
Fukushima 17:41 | (arr.)
Tickets for this train can be purchased at any JR ticket window in Japan. The Toreiyu Tsubasa is entirely covered by the Japan Rail Pass, in addition to various JR East passes. Prior reservations are required.
The foot bath also requires a special ticket, as there is limited space available. This can be purchased on the train for a price of 450yen, or at JR East travel centres (not included in the normal ticket price).
Tips for riding
- Check service days ahead of time, as the train does not run every day.
- A great way to enjoy the train is to make a day trip to any of the stations along the way, each has its local highlights.
- Foot baths are limited to passengers with a View Ryoko Travel Package (450yen) and foot bath tickets must be purchased on the train itself.
Photo (c) E3-700 series by ttzshirasawa, CC BY 3.0