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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hokkaido Winter 2013 北海道冬季之旅 - Ryuhyo Express Okhotsk no kaze 流氷特急オホーツクの風

Travelled 07.02.2013

Abashiri JR Station (1417 hrs) > Kamikawa JR Station (1710 hrs)
Fee = 3,880 yen + 2,810 yen for reserved seats = 6,690 yen

Train is only in operation during the winter season (in conjunction with drift ice sightseeing from February to early March). This North Rainbow Express train makes one round trip per day along Sekihoku main line, commuting between Sapporo and Abashiri JR Stations.

Took the connecting Twinkle Bus Sounkyo-go from Kamikawa JR Station to Sounkyo Onsen
Fee = 500 yen
Twinkle Bus Sounkyo-go (2014 edition):


- There are a total of five carriages in this train. What is unique about this train is that third/middle carriage is divided into two tiers - the top deck comprises of passenger seats, while the bottom deck has a cafe and lounge for passengers to hang around over a cup of coffee and snacks or do some itinerary planning with the travel guide books provided. An autograph book is also placed in the lounge for passengers to pen down their thoughts on board the train. Original souvenirs such as quartz watches, stickers, files, pins and postcards are all designed for and only sold on board this seasonal train. Some of which come with a new design every year, thus elevating its exclusivity!

- Bottom left: beautiful postmark for Ryuhyo Express Okhotsk no kaze; Bottom right: autograph book -
- Passengers are issued with boarding certificates (in the form of postcards) by the train conductor after tickets are verified. Write a message at the back of the card, purchase postage stamp (70 yen to send back to Singapore) from the cafe counter and drop your postcard into this exclusive wooden post box found in the lounge! All mails sent from this train will be stamped with a postmark that is specially designed and dedicated to this train.

- Transformed from last to first train carriage in Engaru JR Station -
- When the train pulled into Engaru JR Station (遠軽駅), was puzzled to see all passengers automatically stood up and rotated their seats 180 degree to face the opposite direction. Of course, we had to follow suit (follow what the Romans do when in Rome) and eventually realised that train would move in the reverse direction after this train station. Searched for its location on online maps and discovered that in Engaru JR Station, all trains continuing the journey would have to travel in the opposite direction and divert to the adjacent track. Due to this switchback mode, the train carriage which we were seated in was "upgraded" from the last to the utmost front compartment! Got the chance to be in the driver's seat for a moment to admire the snowy scenery ahead of us. An unexpected surprise indeed.

Location of Engaru JR Station:

View Larger Map


Commemorative stamps: 

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