Highlighting JAPAN Vol.121 June 2018
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relations manager, “and most hail from the Kanto and Kansai regions, or from overseas.” After about forty minutes of countryside views the train reaches the sea, waves crashing on the rocks and seagulls crying overhead. The route goes through the Shirakami-Sanchi mountain district of northern Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Diminutive seaside villages cling to the coast, buoys and nets hang off the sides of the village homes, and passengers catch a glimpse of what life must be like here as the train rattles by. be had. Every day of the week, shamisen players board partway through the journey and give a rousing jangly Tsugaru shamisen performance. Other days, passengers might get to see a puppet show or a storyteller narrating in the local dialect. The Resort Shirakami connects Kawabe Station in Aomori to Higashi Noshiro Station in Akita. The train passes by the Sea of Japan and mountainous Shirakami Sanchi area.Onboard the train, there’s entertainment to The ResortShirakami TrainsOn board there are live Tsugaru shamisen performancesThe box seats have wide windows that seem to frame the sceneryNoshiro is known as a basketball town, and visitors can try shooting hoops during a brief stopThe train lingers at key points so that everyone can get a good look at scenic views, and stops entirely in a few spots so passengers can stretch their legs and take a look around, such as at Senjojiki (‘a thousand tatami mats’), a length of coastline that has large table-like rocks lining the beach. Watanabe explains, “Lord Tsugaru used to come here on outings and lay out a thousand tatami mats, giving this area its name.”The folks who ride the Resort Shirakami are not in a rush; in fact, quite the opposite. Says Watanabe, “The people who ride this train are those who want to take it easy, get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and forget about time.” Combining scenic sights, the romance of the railways and traditional culture, the Resort Shirakami will continue to charm visitors to Aomori and Akita for years to come. 31

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