Railway operators across Japan are offering myriad package deals ranging from overnight tours to countdowns inside carriages for passengers who want to celebrate the upcoming change of eras.
Tobu Railway Co. will operate a special overnight train carrying travelers from an area near Tokyo to a hot spring resort to celebrate the end of the current Heisei Era on April 30, when Emperor Akihito abdicates, and the beginning of the Reiwa Era on May 1.
The “Thank You Heisei, Hello Reiwa” train led by their diesel locomotive DL Taiju will leave Minami Kurihashi in Saitama Prefecture at 11:55 p.m. on April 30 and arrive at Kinugawa Onsen in Tochigi Prefecture at 5:00 a.m. the following day.
Passengers will be offered light food and drinks to toast the new era on board and can use the hot springs and eat breakfast at a hotel at the end of their journey, according to the company.
In western Japan, travel agency Hankyu Travel International Co. in Osaka has chartered West Japan Railway Co.’s express train Kuroshio for a trip to view the sunrise off Cape Shionomisaki, the southernmost point of Honshu.
All 270 available overnight train tickets have already sold out, the company said.
In Hokkaido, travelers can take part in an overnight railway tour offered by South Hokkaido Railway Co. between Hakodate and Hokuto.
Participants in the “Journey from Showa, Heisei to Reiwa” tour will take a train that was built in the Showa Era, which preceded the Heisei Era, and depart Hakodate before midnight April 30.
They can raise a glass as the era changes, relax in two carriages of the old Hokutosei sleeper service and take a dip in an onsen (hot spring) spa before returning to Hakodate, the operator said.
In Saitama Prefecture, Chichibu Railway Co. will run a train led by a C58 steam locomotive between Kumagawa and Mitsumineguchi with a special sign reading “Thank you Heisei” on April 30. It will change the sign to “Congratulations Reiwa” the following day.
Founded in 1989, the first year of the current era, Heisei Chikuho Railway in Fukuoka Prefecture is the only railway company in Japan that uses the era name.
The company will run a train in which the conductor holds a countdown from Heisei to Reiwa within the carriage.
“We have been able to safely operate on account of our customers (since the start of Heisei). We will promote our gratitude for the era as well as customers during the event,” an official of the operator said.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5