The title of "Joyful Train" in Japan refers to many different kinds of trains, but all with the same purpose of making a simple train trip a lot more special.
tatami-floor train: the first joyful train
The first joyful train started in the early 1960s, when a vintage turn-of-the-century train was outfitted with tatami floors for a traditional Japanese zashiki feel. You can still find these kind of interiors in joyful trains today, too! Sit on cushions around a table with a few friends, or on zaisu legless chairs along a long, traditional table, or...
...You can even keep warm and toasty and travel in style in a kotatsu joyful train! Kotatsu are tables with a heater on the underside and a blanket covering them, a very traditional (and widely used) method of keeping warm during cold Japanese winters. Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan boasts this fun-looking kotatsu train.
Other trains are less about novelty and more about the experience of where you're going. The Yufuin no Mori (and its newer sibling the Shin-Yufuin no Mori) train takes travellers to the famous Yufuin hotsprings near Beppu, in the island of Kyushu. The dark wood interior makes the trip through the southern forests a beautiful, nature-inspired journey.
Although the train itself is not a toy, nearly everything inside is! The toy train, or omocha densha, features a toy store, coin vending machines that sell toys, and an interior designed for children, including a crib for infants.
Joyful trains also include other fun trains such as character-themed trains and extreme luxury trains. Be sure to check out our other articles for more information!