Ride the rails in style aboard Japan's 10 best tourist trains

Nikkei -- Mar 08
Since the debut of the luxury Seven Stars train on Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu in 2013, sightseeing trains have drawn renewed interest among travelers. These resorts on rails offer everything from fine cuisine made with local produce to opportunities to meet people along the route.

New trains aimed at leisure travelers have appeared in Japan one after another in recent years. Here are a few of the trains that have rolled onto the tracks since 2015.

Echigo Tokimeki Resort Setsugekka (Niigata)

Echigo Tokimeki Resort Setsugekka made its maiden run in 2016. The train's vermilion exterior is a traditional Japanese color. Local accents include Echigo cedar and Tsubamesanjo metalwork in the carriages.

Echigo Tokimeki Resort Setsugekka offers spectacular views of the scenery, including the Sea of Japan, paddy fields and the unique Tsutsuishi Station, built in the middle of a tunnel, to name just a few.

Trains departing from Joetsu-Myoko Station serve French cuisine, with recipes from Ryuta Iizuka, a Michelin starred chef who hails from Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture.

Passengers departing from Itoigawa Station can savor Japanese cuisine from the storied Tsurugiya restaurant, which was destroyed in massive fire and rebuilt last year.

Shikoku Mannaka Sennen Monogatari (Kagawa, Tokushima)

This train meanders close to cultural landmarks such as Zentsuji Temple and Kotohiragu Shrine in Kagawa Prefecture and Tokushima Prefecture's Iya Valley, home to the descendants of defeated Heike (Taira clan) warriors. Travelers can lose themselves in rustic landscapes, an undeveloped woodland and the beauty of the valley.

At Awa-Kawaguchi Station, locals welcome passengers to their hometown dressed as Yokai Tanuki, a mischievous, shape-shifting raccoon dog from Japanese folklore.

Aru Ressha (Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki)

This train is modeled after a luxurious train built by a U.S. manufacturer during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The operator, Kyushu Railway, ordered the train but it never entered service because the company was later nationalized.

Yoshihiro Narisawa, a well-known chef has created a prix fixe course for passengers consisting of a boxed lunch and four kinds of sweets.

In March, the train begins travelling a new route between Hakata Station and Huis Ten Bosch theme park.

The Story of 13000 feet (Toyama)

This line runs in a loop from seaside to mountains and back. The train takes its name from the vertical distance from the bottom of Toyama Bay to the top of the Tateyama mountain range: 4,000 meters or 13,000 shaku -- a traditional Japanese unit of measure. Passengers can watch sushi chefs at work and sample locally brewed sake.

- Nikkei