Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Ibusuki no Tamatebako 指宿の玉手箱

Travelled 25.03.2014

There are a total of 3 round trips per day. For my trip, I boarded Ibusuki no Tamatebako 3 from Kagoshima Chuo Station at 1157 hrs and alighted at Ibusuki Station at 1248 hrs. Do check out the latest train schedule from JR Kyushu website:
  • Ibusuki no Tamatebako 1, 3 and 5: Kagoshima Chuo > Ibusuki
  • Ibusuki no Tamatebako 2, 4 and 6: Ibusuki > Kagoshima Chuo


Folk tale. Ibusuki no Tamatebako train was designed based on a well-known Japanese folk tale. Urashima Taro (浦島太郎) is a fisherman who rescued a turtle and was rewarded with a visit to Dragon Palace under the sea. He spent a total of three days in the palace, with the King and his princess. Before he left, the princess handed him a wooden treasure box - Tamatebako (玉手箱), and warned not to open the box. To his astonishment, he found everything around him has changed back in his hometown and later he discovered 300 years have passed since the day he left home. Forgotten about the warning, he opened the treasure box and white smoke engulfed him. Urashima Taro was transformed into an old man instantaneously.

Top left: "White smoke" appearing overhead when the train doors open; Top middle: Ibutama Pudding, a popular food item on board the train. 
Facilities & features. Ibusuki no Tamatebako amazes me with the intricate details portrayed in every corner of this train. The train exterior is painted symmetrically monotone black and white. On the "white" side of the train, seats were swiveled to face the windows for passengers to admire the view of Kagoshima bay and Sakurajima. On the "black" side of the train, there are sofa seats and shelves containing books of Japanese folk tales and Ibusuki. Cedar wood from southern Kyushu was largely used to build the interior of the train and makes one feel like he/she is in a wooden treasure box that was mentioned in the folk tale. In addition, when the train doors open, steam is released from the vents on the overhead of the doors, mimicking the white smoke that came out of the treasure box after it was opened. Miniature chairs and baby cot are specially installed for the younger passengers on board this mystical train. 

Train collar pin
Bought an Ibutama pudding from the mobile cart mended by the cabin attendant - one of the exclusive items available on board this train. An item which is inspired by the train, this dessert is made up of two layers of pudding: egg and milk layer on the top of black sesame layer. Adored the creamy and silky texture of pudding, coupled with nutty black sesame flavour. Apart from food, the mobile cart also sells train merchandises such as collar pin and clear file. If you do not plan to purchase any merchandise, one free yet meaningful souvenir that you can bring back home is the commemorative boarding pass and inked stamp designed exclusively for this train. All the elements combined to make this 1 hour train journey on board Ibusuki no Tamatebako a memorable one!  


Video: Scroll to 20:55 for 遇约九州's feature on Ibusuki no Tamatebako.


Commemorative boarding pass and stamp: 


  1. hi, my name is kamal
    can you describe detail about ibutama pudding


    1. Hi Kamal! Thanks for leaving a note. Are you planning to visit Kyushu soon? Ibutama pudding is made up of two layers of pudding with different flavours - the original eggy flavour on the top and black sesame flavour on the bottom. A very delectable dessert to try while on board the train!