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JR News: Footbath bullet train Toreiyu Tsubasa to retire in March 2022

JR News: Footbath bullet train Toreiyu Tsubasa to retire in March 2022

East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has announced that the Toreiyu Tsubasa (とれいゆつばさ), the iconic footbath bullet train that runs on the Yamagata Shinkansen, will retire in March 2022 after almost 8 years of operation as a sightseeing train.

 

Yamagata, where the train runs in, is famous for its delicious fruits and produce, which grow well with the blessings of the sun. The name “Toreiyu” comes from combining the words “torein” (the Japanese pronunciation of “train”) and “soreiyu” (the Japanese pronunciation of “soleil”, the French word for “sun”).

 

Footbaths onboard the Toreiyu Tsubasa. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

Running between JR Fukushima Station (福島駅) and JR Shinjо̄ Station (新庄駅) along the Yamagata Shinkansen, the Toreiyu Tsubasa is a unique bullet train that features footbaths (足湯 ashiyu) onboard, which passengers can buy tickets to use at ¥450/pax for a 15-minute session.

 

The Toreiyu Tsubasa was built to promote tourism to Yamagata, a prefecture famous for its charming hot spring towns like Ginzan Onsen, Tendo Onsen, and Kaminoyama Onsen, which the train runs by. To date, around 65,000 passengers have ridden the Toreiyu Tsubasa.

 

Tatami seats and fruit motifs on the Toreiyu Tsubasa. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

Inside the train is décor that pays homage to Yamagata, such as the designs of shogi (将棋 Japanese chess), cherries, and Hanagasa hats on the seat cushions, as well as various fruit-shaped decorations. In addition to its iconic footbaths, the Toreiyu Tsubasa also boasts a tatami lounge area and tatami seats, to mimic the atmosphere of a hot spring resort.

 

The Toreiyu Tsubasa in spring. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

The Toreiyu Tsubasa was refurbished from an E3 series train, which—prior to beginning its stint as a Joyful Train (themed concept train) in 2014—had been running on the Akita Shinkansen since 2002. After almost 20 years of total operation, the train will finally be retiring.

 

Currently, the Toreiyu Tsubasa is the only Joyful Train in operation that is a bullet train. Its sibling the GENBI SHINKANSEN, a fellow refurbished E3 series train, was retired in December 2020.

 

The Toreiyu Tsubasa in winter. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

The Last Run for the Toreiyu Tsubasa’s regular operations is scheduled to be on 6 March 2022, with limited edition merchandise and special farewell events being planned for later in March. More information will be released once the details are confirmed.

 

Until then, you can catch the Toreiyu Tsubasa mainly on Saturdays and Sundays, when it makes one round trip per day of operation. You can check out this article for more information about a trip onboard the Toreiyu Tsubasa.

 

Artist’s impression of the E8 series train. (Image credit: JR East)

 

After the Toreiyu Tsubasa’s retirement, there are no plans for a replacement sightseeing train in Yamagata, but you can look forward to the upcoming E8 series shinkansen train, which is scheduled to make its debut along the Yamagata Shinkansen in spring 2024.

 

Header image credit: JR East

 

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