To reserve: access our Reservations page to start your journey on this beautiful train,
across a spectacular part of Japan.
A brilliant crimson train, passing under the snowy peak of Mt. Myoko, and along the deep blue of the Sea of Japan. Huge windows — the largest in all of Japan — provide almost uninterrupted views of the mountains, the fields and the waves. Climb onboard Setsugekka; have a resort-like experience as you pass through this beautiful, historic, culturally rich region of Japan. Gourmet food, great local saké and wine, friendly attendants and stops at charming towns along the route.
Make your reservation for an unforgettable mini vacation on Setsugekka, one of the great train rides of the world!
The vermillion color theme of the Setsugekka makes it unmistakable, whether the red train is set against the deep white snows of winter, the deep greens of summer, or passing along the blue Sea of Japan. Although the color is bold, it’s also in keeping with Japanese traditional design themes, with symbols for the four seasons set in gold along the train body. In fact, the train was awarded the 2017 Laurel Award from the Japan Railfan Club for outstanding train design.
In car one, all the seats face toward both the Myoko mountains and the Sea of Japan, and look out through the largest windows on any train in Japan. The windows are also heat-shielding, and cut 90% of all transmitted UV rays. At the far end of the car is a high observation deck, open to all passengers, to give a different perspective on the spectacular scenery along the route. The bright, lounge-style interior features a golden motif, with natural Echigo cedar wood and appointments in the colors of the autumn harvest.
Car two features large tables and spacious seats, providing a comfortable, dining-car-like environment. The windows are just as large and open here as in car one; at the end is a table for four in another high deck. The views are spectacular to the sides, as well as over the engineer’s head forward along the tracks — a truly unique view. At the other end of the car is the Sakura Lounge, a sophisticated area floored in beautiful Yasuda tiling. Enjoy a drink from the bar while chatting with friends or the attendants.
When you travel on the Setsugekka, you’ll not only be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Japan, but also fine dining using the very best of the local mountains, fields and ocean, with menus created by local expert chefs.
We’re proud of the views our train can provide: the name Setsugekka (combining the Chinese characters for “snow,” “moon” and “flower”) means good views through all of the seasons. We’re also very particular about the ingredients used in our meals, which also are the best of the area, and the seasons. Menus for all the trains were devised by local chefs with a deep knowledge of the regional ingredients. They went directly to the producers to source the materials for these delicious meals.
The menus change with the seasons onboard the Setsugekka, in order to use the best possible ingredients for each time period.
Here is one example, the French-influenced menu for the morning train leaving from Joetsu-Myoko Station from March to November. The recipes were created by Ryuta Iizuka, a two-Michelin-star chef from nearby Tokamachi. The afternoon train from Itoigawa features a full-course Japanese menu created by Tsurugiya, an Itoigawa restaurant open for nearly 200 years. It includes sushi and beautiful dishes using delicious local crab.
You start the French meal with a welcome drink of sparkling wine specially selected — and exclusive to Setsugekka — by vintner Takashi Honda of Fernier in Niigata City (non-alcoholic beverages are available).
The first course (actually, the first tier of this boxed meal) is an appetizer with a French flavor: a shrimp flan topped with local crab. The seaside section of the Setsugekka’s route has some of the finest fishing ports in all of Niigata. From these come the shellfish and octopus in a basil sauce, bream in a sweet and sour escabeche, as well as roast Kubiki beef with a cool consommé jelly.
The second course is a main dish using Niigata vegetables. The croquette is fragrant with the snow-cured pepper seasoning Kanzuri from Myoko; the vegetable rolls are a beautiful selection of colorful vegetables wrapped in sliced daikon. Niigata eggplant is filled with sardine to create a ballotine, while Niigata chicken wrapped in burdock is gently roasted to perfection.
The third course includes highly original pork sandwiches using local Tsumari Pork — an excellent matching with wine. The little onigiri rice balls use locally-grown Koshibuki rice, which is delicious eaten cold. Pull back the bamboo leaf and enjoy the flavors, a mix of Tsumari Pork and salt-cured Shiobiki Salmon.
The courses are accompanied by a sweet condensed corn soup, and desserts, including a Niigata peach compote, a cream highlighting the bittersweet flavor of cacao, and macaroons served with coffee.
The coffee, by the way, is the Setsugekka Special Blend, a special blend made by Suzuki Coffee in Niigata City.
This lounge area, open to all passengers on the Setsugekka, has a décor drawing from the cherry and birch trees found along the tracks, with flooring of beautiful Yasuda tile. Enjoy a premium selection of local saké — drawing from 20 different breweries in Joetsu, Myoko and Itoigawa cities — Iwanohana wine, draft beer and soft drinks.
From the start, the basic idea behind the Setsugekka was that it be a local train: built in a Niigata factory and equipped with items made in the prefecture. Niigata is known for its world-class technologies; you’ll find these in the furniture, the fittings, the cutlery. Even the design is very much made in Niigata. Please ask; the attendants would be happy to explain the Niigata connection of the design and items within the train, as well as Setsugekka itself!
The Setsugekka’s course takes it along some of the most spectacular scenery in Japan. It takes in the peaks stretching down to the coast from towering, dynamic Mt. Myoko; it travels along the meandering shoreline of the Sea of Japan on the way to Itoigawa. Along the way are classic scenes of Japanese farmlands and fishing villages, of cherry blossoms blooming, deep green forests and walls of snow in the winter.
The routes begin either at Joetsu-Myoko Station, or Itoigawa Station, depending on the time of day, and the month of your travel.
Trains beginning at Joetsu-Myoko Station first head to the south to stop at Nihongi Station. This is one of very few remaining switchback stations in Japan — the train actually goes past the station on one set of tracks, then backs into the station on a separate set. It then heads to the southernmost point, Myokokogen Station. The train will slow on the way in to enjoy the view from a classic iron bridge, which includes the iconic Mt. Myoko. This is an area of onsen hot springs, of ski resorts and mountain hiking, and especially of very deep snow (one reason why the train does not run here in the winter!). The train then heads back again to the north, with a series of peaks visible to the west through the Setsugekka’s huge windows. It stops at Naoetsu Station, right on the coast; from here it will head to the west along the coastline. The stop at Tsutsuishi Station is especially noteworthy, as it is located within a tunnel some 40 meters below the surface, which can be reached by climbing just under 300 stairs. Then the train heads on to Itoigawa Station, the end of the course.
Setsugekka train service from Itoigawa departs in the afternoon. It travels to Naoetsu, Nihongi and Myokokogen Station (with the same features as the train from Joetsu-Myoko, as explained above), before returning to Joetsu-Myoko Station.
The Setsugekka schedule for the winter months will change from year to year, but may include not only stops along the ocean and on to Joetsu-Myoko Station, but bus trips or other side excursions to interesting destinations in the area. The same beautiful train, great food and drinks, and exciting, enjoyable sightseeing!
A: The Setsugekka is a luxurious train traveling the wonderfully scenic route along the mountains from Mt. Myoko to the coast, and along the blue Sea of Japan coast to Itoigawa. It provides elegant dining, with French and Japanese menus specially developed by local chefs. It is only available by advanced reservation.
A: The cost per person is ¥17,500 (tax included). This also includes the onboard meal service. Discounts are available for young children, as explained below.
A: In general,children are charged the same as adults and will be provide a meal. If without receiving a meal, infants travel for free;children age 1 to 6 are charged ¥6,000.
A: Yes, all seats are reserved. Groups of two or four can reserve the high deck area of car two; a fee of ¥15,000 will be charged for the entire group.
A: Just click here to access our reservation form. You’ll be asked your preferred date, and a second choice, if possible. You can also indicate any seating preferences you might have. We ask that you use the online form only, as there are no English-speaking operators available at our reservation center. After we confirm your reservation, you will be asked to make payment by credit card through our online service.
A: In general, we can handle groups of up to six people (and in this case, due to seating, the group will be split into a group of four and a group of two.
A: It depends on when you cancel your reservation:
A: The day’s trip may be cancelled in cases of extreme weather, natural disasters or accidents on the line. If this happens, we will contact you by email as early as possible to let you know about the cancellation.
A: You will have time at some stations to get off and enjoy the local character, of course, but as a rule the routes either begin at Joetsu-Myoko Station or Itoigawa Station, ending at the other. The only exception is Myokokogen Station; the morning train starting at Joetsu-Myoko Station can be boarded here, and riders can leave the afternoon train which begins at Itoigawa Station at Myokokogen Station.
A: On the day of your trip on Setsugekka, you can ride any train traveling along the two lines of the Echigo Tokimeki Railway free of charge. So, for example, you leave Itoigawa Station on the afternoon Setsugekka, you can get on the Haneuma Line train at the end of trip at Joetsu-Myoko Station, transfer to the Nihonkai Hisui Line at Naoetsu and enjoy the ride back to Itoigawa — all free.
A: Smoking is not allowed on the train.
A: There is a unisex toilet area in car one, with wheelchair access, a men’s toilet, and a separate wash area.
A: The train is barrier-free, with one wheelchair-compatible seating area. Let us know when you make your reservation.
A: Because we serve food and drinks on board the train, unfortunately we cannot allow pets on board, even in special pet carriers. Dogs for visually- or hearing-impaired persons, or other legally specified assistance dogs are allowed. Please add this information when you make your reservation.
A: There is no dress code, but please understand that many passengers do travel in kimono, jackets and other semi-formal wear. We would appreciate it if guests would wear clothes that are not too casual!
A: We are sorry, but we do not offer allergy-friendly meals. However, it is possible to purchase eki-ben (box lunches) sold at Joetsu-Myoko Station and Naoetsu Station (see below).
A: Meals are included with the trip, but infants and children 1-6 can travel without receiving a meal. Please note this information when you make your reservation.
A: Please refrain from bringing outside food and drink onto the train, apart from the eki-ben (box lunches) sold at Joetsu-Myoko Station and Naoetsu Station. The Sakura Lounge has a wide variety of carefully selected drinks, including local saké and wine, draft beer and soft drinks.
A: For hygienic concerns, we cannot allow take-out of the meals served on Setsugekka.
We hope that you will join us for an unforgettable journey on the Setsugekka! Please fill in the form below, and we will do our best to make a reservation for you. Also please add any additional information so that we can make the journey a pleasant one for you.
Once we have your request, and space is available, we will send an invoice through the Square billing system for secure online payment via credit card.
If you have any questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Online booking and credit payments are under preparation. It is scheduled to start around this year. If you would like to make a reservation before then, please use the contact form. Please send the date you want to ride and the names, nationalities and birth dates of all the participants. We will contact you back.