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Resort trains to the Izu Peninsula: IZU CRAILE and SAPHIR ODORIKO

Resort trains to the Izu Peninsula: IZU CRAILE and SAPHIR ODORIKO

The Izu Peninsula has abundant attractions like natural landscapes, relaxing hot springs, endless sapphire-blue sea views, and dynamic sunsets. Conveniently located a train ride away from Tokyo, it has long been a prime destination for weekend getaways with family and friends.

 

Why not start off your relaxing getaway right from the train ride? Here I will introduce two resort trains—the IZU CRAILE and the SAPHIR ODORIKO—to make your Izu trip an even more enjoyable one.

 

IZU CRAILE

Note: The IZU CRAIL permanently ceased operations in 2020.

Tea set on the IZU CRAILE. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

The IZU CRAILE is an elegant resort train offering magnificent views of the ocean, running along the coast of the Izu Peninsula between Odawara Station (小田原駅) and Izukyu-Shimoda Station (伊豆急下田駅). As a restaurant train, special lunch and afternoon tea packages are available, which were a hit among ladies for girls' trips to the Izu Peninsula.

 

Like the TOHOKU EMOTION and FruiTea Fukushima, the IZU CRAILE is also a restaurant train. However, unlike the former two, food packages are not mandatory for boarding; there is regular Green Car seating available in Car 4.

 

Exterior of the IZU CRAILE. (Image credit: JR East)

 

The train's exterior was redesigned to incorporate a softer, more feminine touch into the otherwise powerful image of the 651-series limited express car. With golden pink lines meant to depict  sakura (桜 cherry blossom) trees, the wind on the sea, and the rippling waves of Izu, this design is an apt fit for this elegant resort train.

 

Enjoying my afternoon tea on the IZU CRAILE. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

The IZU CRAILE is very popular amongst ladies for joshitabi (女子旅girls' trip). I had the chance to ride this train once in 2018, and I can attest that it is definitely an enjoyable experience for a girls’ day out! With a motto of “Beautiful, fun, and friendly”, the IZU CRAILE’s French-inspired food creations express the four seasons throughout the year with fresh Izu ingredients.

 

Close-up of the afternoon tea set. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

The afternoon tea set was served in a wooden box, and this was what came inside it. Clockwise from the top-left, the afternoon tea set comprised of Mont Blanc Pudding, Grape Vinegar Jelly (very delicious!), Pumpkin Tea Cookies, Sweet Potato Quenelles with Red Bream, Gratin Mushroom Ajillo Flavoured with Wasabi, and Marinated Salmon with Soft Boiled Egg. You also get a welcome drink of either sparkling wine or orange juice.

 

The interior of Car 1. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

Car 1 (panoramic seats) and Car 3 (compartment box seats) are for customers with package bookings. The blue seats are on the ocean side, providing views of the waters, while the green seats are on the mountain side, providing inland views. I highly recommend the ocean side, as the panoramic views of the ocean are beautiful beyond description.

 

Sunset view from my seat. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

This was the view from my window-facing seat! I took the inbound Izukyu-Shimoda → Odawara train, which was operating near sunset, and this was the stunning multi-coloured pastel sunset view that I was treated to.

 

View from my seat. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

The train will slow down at certain viewpoints where you can get a good view of the ocean. Even if it is not sunset, the views of the azure waters and bright blue skies are still fantastic, and I spent much of my time on this train enjoying the mesmerising views.

 

A live jazz performance in Car 2. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

After you are done with your meal, you can adjourn to Car 2. Car 2 is the lounge car, which features an event space and sales counter selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs. During the journey, there are live jazz performances in the event space, with performers belting out familiar tunes to the delight of the crowds sitting on the benches.

 

The sales counter in Car 2. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

All passengers can access Car 2, so if you didn’t get a meal package, you can still grab a bite to eat here. Our top picks are the sandwiches made with local Izu ingredients, the IZU CRAILE-limited New Summer Orange Tart, as well the specialty cocktail called the Odawara Frozan Mikan Sour (小田原冷凍ミカンサワ― Odawara reitō mikan sawā), a citrus cocktail made with mikan, a type of orange. Beer, wine, coffee, tea and other bottled drinks are also available. If you prefer to get a memento of your trip, limited edition IZU CRAILE masking tape, folders and pens are on sale.

 

Interior of Car 3. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

Car 3 features compartment seats, which all have windows facing the ocean. Each compartment seats up to four people, and are only for people who purchased the meal package.

 

Regular seats in Car 4. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

Car 4 features regular two by two seats. There is also a luggage storage space here. Like Car 1, the blue seats are on the ocean side, while the green seats are on the mountain side.

 

IZU CRAILE’s omotenashi. (Image credit: JR East / Carissa Loh)

 

As with other Joyful Trains, the IZU CRAILE doesn’t scrimp on its omotenashi (おもてなし hospitality). At Izukyu-Shimoda Station, local volunteers held a banner saying “いってらっしゃい”, which means “Have a good journey.” The friendly staff are always ready to help you take photos. At Odawara Station, the station staff warmly welcomed us holding a banner with the words “おかえりなさい”, which means “Welcome back.”

 

After almost 4 years of good times, it is time to bid farewell to the IZU CRAILE. An event celebrating the IZU CRAILE's final run 「IZU CRAILE LAST RUN」, was originally scheduled to be held on 28 June 2020, but has since been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The IZU CRAILE’s final trip was made on 29 March 2020.

 

SAPHIR ODORIKO

The SAPHIR ODORIKO train. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Travellers looking to experience a resort train trip along the Izu Peninsula can try the SAPHIR ODORIKO instead, a new luxury train featuring JR East’s new Premium Green Car seats, which is positioned between Green and Gran Class.

 

Making its debut on 14 March 2020, the SAPHIR ODORIKO runs between Tokyo and Izukyu-Shimoda, and was inspired by the stunning sapphire blue colours of the sea and the sky (saphir means sapphire in French). This can be seen on the train’s deep blue exterior.

 

The SAPHIR ODORIKO’s Premium Green seats. (Image credit: JR East)

 

The SAPHIR ODORIKO comprises of eight cars, with Car 1 being the Premium Green Car. Providing extra space and privacy, there are only two single seats per row. All seats have leg rests and feature powered reclining. Each seat is also fully equipped with electrical outlets, and has a personal storage space underneath.

 

The car’s windows are large and wide, with added skylights for a more expansive view. For an even better view, the comfortable and plush leather seats can be swivelled towards the window.

 

Inside the SAPHIR ODORIKO’s private compartments. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Cars 2 through 3 are the Green Car Private Compartments. Some compartments seat up to four passengers, while some are made for up to six passengers. Private compartments offer a more intimate space, and are perfect for families and special moments.

 

All compartments have large windows facing the ocean side, as well as skylights for an even more expansive view. The wooden finishes and warm-toned seats provide a luxurious atmosphere to kick-start your Izu trip. Electrical outlets are also available in each compartment.

 

The SAPHIR ODORIKO’s Green Car seats. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Cars 5 through 8 have the Green Car seats, which are roomy, and can be reclined for further comfort. Electrical outlets are also made available for each seat. All cars have a dedicated luggage storage area for you to put your bags. Large windows and skylights provide a good view of the passing surroundings.

 

Cafeteria on the SAPHIR ODORIKO. (Image credit: JR East)

 

Car 4 is the cafeteria with an open kitchen. In the cafeteria, you can enjoy a warm bowl of freshly cooked noodles. Do note that there is a limited number of noodle servings available, and advanced reservations are required to be made via the SAPHIR Pay website. You can check the official website for more details.

 

How to ride

The SAPHIIR ODORIKO makes one round trip daily between JR Tokyo Station (東京駅) and Izukyu-Shimoda Station (伊豆急下田駅). Additional trips and trains originating from JR Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) may operate on specific dates. Check out the timetable and schedule here.

 

All seats on the SAPHIR ODORIKO are reserved seating. Reservations can be made at JR East Travel Service Centers at major train stations like Tokyo Station, Ueno Station, Shinjuku Station and more. The ones at the major stations even have English-speaking staff to better assist you with your travel needs.

 

Below are the ticket prices for riding the SAPHIR ODORIKO from Tokyo to Izukyu-Shimoda. (Information correct as of January 2020.)


  • All seats are reserved seats. You must have a reserved seat ticket in order to board this train.
  • All seats are Green / Premium Green class seats. JR EAST PASS users need to pay the Green / Premium Green seat fee in order to board this train.

 

JR East Rail Passes

Although the SAPHIR ODORIKO consists of only Green / Premium Green seats which are not covered by the rail passes, the base fare is covered by passes such as the JR TOKYO Wide Pass, the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area), and the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area).

 

Depending on your itinerary and travel needs, all passes offer huge savings on rail travel, and unlimited rides (including bullet trains) within the designated area. Users of these passes need to only pay the Green / Premium Green seat fee of ¥5,150 to ride Car 5–8, and ¥7,470 for Car 1.

 

JR TOKYO Wide Pass. (Image credit: JR East)

 

JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area). (Image credit: JR East)

 

Header image credit: JR East (left) / Carissa Loh (right)

 

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