Saturday, September 16, 2017

Japan Travel with Children - Kyushu - Sightseeing Train Yufuin no Mori ゆふいんの森

A trip to the famous hot spring town Yufuin (由布院) in Kyushu is not completed without travelling on the sightseeing train Yufuin no Mori (ゆふいんの森). When I ran into the Japan Rail (JR) Ticket Office at Hakata Station, the display screen that showed the availability of Yufuin no Mori was not working. I quickly used my half-past-six Japanese to check with the staff, and I was finally relieved. There were still vacant seats on the day and time that we planned to travel! Sound dramatic? Yes, we heard that it was not easy to get a seat on the popular sightseeing train!

This train is strictly by reservation. When we visited Kyushu in June 2017, the online reservation for tourists who have purchased JR Kyushu Rail Pass at JR Kyushu official website was not available yet.  Therefore, we had to reserve the seats on our first day when we reached Kyushu.

At the time of writing this post (September 2017), while the online reservation is now available for tourists who have purchased JR Kyushu Rail Pass at JR Kyushu official website (with extra charge), the route of Yufuin no Mori has changed due to damages by heavy rain. Instead of 2 hours from Hakata to Yufuin, the temporary route now will take almost 5 hours.

Boarding this train was also a special experience, as the staff welcomed us aboard.

We didn't really have time to rest during our train journey. After we had put down our luggage and found our reserved seats, we started exploring the train.

Our family was fortunate to get this booth seating!

Such a big screen at the two ends of the train!

Even the doors in between  the cabins are so beautiful! There are shelves for the luggage.

Many people were queuing at the snack bar even before it was opened. On a sightseeing train, of course we must have a train bento lunch box! We ordered Yufuin Wappa (ゆるいんわっぱ, 720 yen), which looked so pretty!

The children requested for ice-cream. This soya bean flavour ice-cream (about 300+ yen each) was smooth and delicious!

The snack bar also sells souvenirs.

Other than purchasing food and souvenir, there was another queue in the snack bar cabin. Another must-do on a sightseeing train - stamping on the souvenir card!

The scenery along the way was breathtaking.

When the train passed by a waterfall, the staff informed us to look at our right, and the train was slowed down for us to admire the waterfall for a few seconds.

The staff also walked around with a sign board and children's train captain uniform for the passengers to take photos. When our children wore the captain uniform, they suddenly became the stars in the cabin, as the friendly Japanese ladies sitting next to us took photos of them, and kept saying they were "kawaii" (cute)!

Two hours passed by quickly, finally we reached Yufuin Station. There was a foot bath area (160 yen per person) just next to the train track.

This train journey was a special experience, and now I understand why it is not so easy to get a seat on Yufuin no Mori!

Useful Information

How to get from Hakata to Yufuin by Public Transportation
  1. Bus: Nishitetsu Bus from Hakata Bus Terminal (reservation is required). Duration is about 2 hours. Fare - adult 2880 yen, child 1440 yen.
  2. Sightseeing train: Yufuin no Mori (reservation is required).
  3. Train: JR Sonic to Oita, then change to another train Nichirin Sea Gaia. Duration is about 3+ hours. You can consider visiting Beppu or Oita in between. Fare - adult 6650 yen, child 3330 yen.
Yufuin no Mori

Our Japan (June 2017) Travelogue

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