SEVERE WX : Freeze Warning View Alerts

Tohoku Emotion: Japan's scenic fine-dining restaurant train

On board Japan's Tohoku Emotion...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 10:57 AM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 10:58 AM

On board Japan's Tohoku Emotion train, most passengers care more about what's on the menu than about the train's destination.

First launched in October 2013, Tohoku Emotion is a traveling restaurant that runs along the Sanriku Coast in the northern Tohoku region of Japan.

Asia

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

East Asia

Food and beverage industry

Food and drink

Japan

Rail transportation

Restaurant and food service industry

Restaurant industry

Restaurants

Tohoku

Trains

Transportation and warehousing

Fine dining

Fines and penalties

Law and legal system

Trial and procedure

Travel and tourism

Japan travel guide

It's one of East Japan Railway Company's (JR East) "Joyful Trains," a series of themed cars aimed at travel promotion of the country's less-visited prefectures.

Other Joyful Trains include SL Ginga, a space-themed steam train with its own planetarium, and POKEMON with YOU Train, a train filled with Pikachu motifs and figures.

Cruising between the towns of Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture and Kuji in Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku Emotion offers a seasonal menu designed by celebrity chefs of Japan. The Tohoku region's produce is the real star, though -- think sea urchin, beef, mountain grapes and shiitake mushrooms, to name a few.

A new chef takes over the train every six months and the menu is updated twice during his or her half-a-year tenure.

Shinsuke Ishii, chef-owner of Sincere in Tokyo and former chef of the popular no-reservations French restaurant Bacar, is in charge of the current menu, now on offer until March 2019.

Tables at Ishii's Harajuku restaurant often fill up weeks in advance.

Passengers enjoy a four-course lunch while traveling from Hachinohe to Kuji, sightsee for about 1.5 hours in Kuji and then dive into a dessert buffet designed by Takashi Kumagai of Hotel Metropolitan Morioka on the ride back from Kuji to Hachinohe.

At each of the scenic spots along the route, the train slows down, giving passengers a chance to enjoy the views and take photos while enjoying their meals.

In addition to being a tourist attraction for international travelers, the creator of the Tohoku Emotion tells CNN Travel he wants it to be an appealing getaway for locals.

"We wanted the locals to enjoy the taste that normally locals are not able to at a reasonable price and for them to come experience it more than once," says Hikaru Patrick Okada, chief creative officer of the Transit General Office.

"The menu is mainly "Western innovative" -- a modern type of cuisine that's quite uncommon for Tohoku locals because their food culture centers around their regional local dishes. The idea of being able to enjoy such food while traveling creates great memories and fun."

An afternoon of luxury

The Tohoku Emotion actually has design links to Japan's uber-luxury sleeper train Shiki-shima (tickets range from $2,000 to $10,000),

Ken Okuyama Design, the former designer of the likes of Porsche, designed the Shiki-shima as well as the exterior of Tohoku Emotion.

Its façade resembles a restaurant with a white masonry wall and hanging porch lights by the doors.

Its interior highlights crafts of the region, including wall fabrics weaved using Fukushima's old Sashiko-ori textile technique, Aomori's Kogin embroidery, lights made of Iwate's amber and utensils made of Miyagi's Ogatsu inkstone.

The three-car train, which has seven private compartments in car 1 and an open kitchen in car 2, can seat 48 diners.

Passengers can reserve their Tohoku Emotion tickets through a local tour agency or at JR ticket offices or JR travel service centers, called View Plaza. Online bookings are not available.

A return trip costs JPY11,900 or $106 per adult.

The train runs from Friday to Monday. Check out the full schedule here.

Article Comments

West Lafayette
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 50°
Kokomo
Broken Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 41°
Rensselaer
Broken Clouds
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Fowler
Broken Clouds
46° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 37°
Williamsport
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 44°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 37°
Frankfort
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 42°
Delphi
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 41°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 40°
Logansport
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 40°
Colder & very windy with some spotty rain & rain/snow.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events