THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

A gourmet rail journey on Kyushu's Orange line

I’d heard a lot about the Hisatsu Orange Railway in Kyushu (Japan’s third largest island) and I was really looking forward to a unique, world-class experience. I knew that the train was often fully booked, sometimes a year in advance, and reservations for the small but popular railway along Japan’s Kyushu West Coast were extremely difficult to come by. A good sign that this was truly a great railway journey in the making. Ja


By Andrew J Wood

Thursday 3 November 2016, 08:00AM


Japan’s rail system is legendary, the smooth, almost silent Shinkansens(bullet trains) that whisk you effortlessly along at 250 kilometres-per-hour or more, are testament to the importance of rail travel in Japan.

The Hisatsu Orange Railway stops at 28 stations between Yatsushiro in Kumamoto prefecture and Sendai in Kagoshima prefecture, a distance of 117 kilometres along the coastline of Kyushu. But unlike the Shinkansenthat travels straight and fast as a bullet, the Orange Railway takes a slow and winding scenic route, with many stops along the way.

The word Hisatsuin Hisatsu Orange Railway is derived from the first kanji characters of the words Higoand Satsuma, the former names of Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures, respectively. Orange Railway comes from the area through which the trains run. It is a region famous for producing unique varieties of citrus fruits such as Banpeiyu, Bon-Tan, Ama-Natsu, Dekopon, Satsuma Mikan, and Kumquat.

The Orange Railway is a private enterprise set up in 2004. The railway’s shareholders include Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures (regional governments) and various towns and cities along its route. It has a very strong focus on being a local railway for the people with a real drive to develop tourism and local gastronomy.

On board, with lunch in the Orange Restaurant, the journey takes approximately four delicious hours. For me this was heavenly. Lots to see and do and lots of new tastes. Even plenty of new drinks for me to try.

On the train ride you can enjoy the spectacular coastline that borders the East China Sea as well as take in the wonderful views as you traverse through the citrus fruit farmlands which gives the railway it’s name.

We were told that during the journey we would make a number of stops at various stations and we will be presented with gifts. To receive these we needed to bring along our special gift vouchers that were beautifully presented, along with our boarding passes, at the start of our journey.

Splash Beach Club

The gifts in many cases turned out to be local food items, many of them being made at the stations at which we stopped. This is the beauty of a gourmet railway journey.

We were treated to an array of absolutely delicious items, my favourites were Hinagu chikuwas(a kind of BBQ soft fish paste made into a roll); locally brewed beers and fruit juices; curry pan (a delicious deep fried, breaded beef curry samosa), and in Minamata, Cremia soft ice cream (famous throughout Japan).

As well as the treats we were also able to enjoy a very fine lunch in the Orange Restaurant, utilising produce sourced from local communities. This was a perfect example of CSR, how larger corporate businesses can make responsible choices to support smaller local industries, in a caring and sustainable way.

Rail travel is not all things to all men. For me I enjoy the luxury of kicking back, relaxing and letting the journey and the day unfurl. Fortunately, this time around, with no deadline or time sensitive appointments at the other end. Unlike car and air travel, I could thoroughly enjoy the journey with very few do’s and don’ts to restrict my movement or social interaction. I could chat with my fellow passengers or not, I could walk around or not, I could take pictures or not, or just read... or not.

The idea of taking a nap never really occurred to me, I was much too interested in the journey and the views outside. It was more a case of carpe diem – seize the day! The choice and space was mine and it was bigger than just a seat. It was a delightful journey and I didn’t want it to end.


Andrew J. Wood is a travel writer and a regular university guest lecturer. A long time resident of Thailand, Andrew is a former hotelier and a Director of Worldwide Destinations Asia Co. Ltd., as well as the Immediate Past President of Skal International Thailand.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
NASA heading back to Moon soon, and this time to stay

"...backed by President Donald Trump" So, why doesn't he just tell his drooling minion...(Read More)


DMCR steps up after tourism blast over pile of unused artificial reef blocks at Koh Racha

Silently dropped on a windy day, we were hoping to forget the whole matter quietly. Now some dammed...(Read More)


Rescue workers call for awareness as motorist drives into mid-road street light unassisted

"Why the hell is a structure in the middle of the narrow road," do you normally drive down...(Read More)


Patong traffic alert for Central opening

That T-junction is always a pain in the (bottle) neck at night. Why? Because of the double, triple ...(Read More)


Four family members arrested in Trang, B100m drugs seized

Wow, what you call a 'family business'! Poor consumers in Trang and 'nearby areas...(Read More)


Patong Police Chief: Leave your valuables at home

"Does that include our passport which legally, we're supposed to carry at all times," ...(Read More)


Driver fined B400 for reckless driving as tour bus slams into power pole to avoid collision

Because a RTP officer is saying that she will be held responsible for repair costs of everything wil...(Read More)


Patong Police Chief: Leave your valuables at home

Does that include our passport which legally, we're supposed to carry at all times?...(Read More)


Driver fined B400 for reckless driving as tour bus slams into power pole to avoid collision

All though the fine is very low for dangerous driving, the costs of all the repairs is going to be p...(Read More)