Kurofune Black Ship Train
The Kurofune or Black Ship Train is a Commodore Perry-themed train that operates between Atami and Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula. The trains offer spectacular ocean views.
- Black Ship Train
- Train Layout
- Black Ship Theme
- Riding the train
- Places to stay in and around Atami City
- How to get to Atami
Kurofune train, Atami - Shimoda, Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture 黒船電車 熱海駅-伊豆急下田駅 伊豆半島 静岡県
Kurofune train at Atami Station
The railway line from Atami to Shimoda leads through very scenic territory. Running along the eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo and Yokohama, the train tracks follow the coast line for the most part. The trains thus offer great views over the sea as well as towards the volcanic mountains on the inland side.
To make the most of those views, JR East and the private Izukyu rail company operate specially designed panoramic trains on this route.
JR East runs the Super View Odoriku Express from Tokyo Station to Izukyu Shimoda Station in Shimoda on the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula.
Izukyu Railways and JR East jointly operate Izukyu's Resort 21 panoramic trains: the Kinme and the Kurofune (aka the Black Ship Train).
These two trains run as local trains between Atami and Izukyu Shimoda. Between Atami and Ito, the trains belong to the JR Ito Line and are operated by JR. From Ito to Shimoda, the trains are handled by Izukyu Railways.
Cockpit seats, Kurofune train, Izu Peninsula
Seats arranged to face the seaside, Kurofune train
Black Ship Train
Though the Kinme and the Kurofune / Black Ship Train are largely identical in their offerings of panoramic views, the Kurofune is the more interesting train because of its design and its rich history-themed interior.
In operation since 2004, the Kurofune train celebrates the 150th anniversary of Commodore Perry's second visit to Japan in 1854 which resulted in the opening of two Japanese ports to foreign ships. One of those ports was Shimoda, the destination of the train.
During the Edo Period (1603-1868), Japan was largely closed to the outside world with exception of Dejima in Nagasaki. In 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry arrived with a fleet of black steam frigates at the mouth of Tokyo Bay and demanded the opening of Japanese ports for foreign trade.
On Perry's second visit to Japan in 1854, the convention of Kanagawa was signed between the U.S. and Japan. This resulted not only in the opening of the treaty ports but also played a large part in the downfall of the Tokugawa government and the creation of modern Japan during the subsequent Meiji Restoration.
The black ships Perry used for his foray are known as Kurofune in Japan. Hence the name of the train.
The seaside seen from the Kurofune train
Kurofune train with image of Commodore Perry
Before its departure from Atami Station, the train usually sits for quite some time at the station platform. Since there are no reserved seats, it's best to get on the train early.
That way, you can decide on your seat without a hurry. In the regular train cars, the rows of seats that will face the seaside are placed in order to give the passengers a full view of the coast. You sit not next to a window but in front of a large glass front stretching all along the ocean side of the car.
In the front car, you can take a seat right behind the train drivers. The cockpit seat section behind the drivers is arranged like a theater with seats in ascending rows. Passengers have thus a full view through the train's front window, as well as through the windows on the side.
The same goes for the rear car just that there you look out at the scenery the train leaves behind.
Late Edo Era Japanese drawings of Perry's Black Ships
Contemporary images of Commodore Perry. From the right: an actual photograph, a drawing in a London newspaper, two images of Perry bearing the face of the Satsuma clan daimyo
Black Ship Theme
Found your preferred seat and put a coat or jacket on it to mark it as taken? Now would be the time to check out some of the many historical images the train features.
Though Commodore Perry is the general theme of the train, each of the eight cars of the train is devoted to a different sub-theme.
There are images of the actual ships Perry traveled with and images of Perry himself. These include actual photos as well as contemporary Western and Japanese drawings published in newspapers and books at the time.
Some of the Japanese drawings are hilarious: they depict Perry as a devil or as the Enma, the Lord of Hell. Mysteriously, some of the images lend the face of the then powerful ruler of the Satsuma domain in southern Kyushu (in what is today's Kagoshima) to Perry.
Other cars feature images of the Izu Peninsula during the late Edo Period. It's all worth taking a good look. Picture captions are only in Japanese, however.
Late Edo Era Japanese drawings of Commodore Perry as a devil
Riding the train
From Atami to Ito, the train operates as the JR Ito Line. Two drivers sit at the front end of the car while the train moves from stop to stop along the Sagami Coast.
In Ito, the JR drivers hand the train over to the driver of Izukyu Railways. From then on, it's only one driver.
The train makes stops at many destinations worth checking out: among them the rugged Jogasaki Coast (Jogasaki Kaigan Station) and scenic Izu Kogen, close to Mount Omuro, (Izu Kogen Station) before the train finally arrives at Izukyu Shimoda Station.
The Kurofune train makes three runs per day in either direction. It starts out in the morning in Izu Kogen, halfway down the peninsula, heads to Atami, then runs between Atami and Izukyu Shimoda two times. The last trip of the day takes it back from Atami to Izu Kogen.
Despite all the luxury train features, the actual fare is just that of a regular local train. At the time of writing (July 2018), a trip for an adult from Atami to Izukyu Shimoda was 1,940 yen.
If you need to buy a JR paper ticket, it is the easiest to just buy a ticket to Ito, the end of the JR Ito Line. In Ito, stay on the train and pay the remaining fare once you arrive at your destination.
English-language Izukyu Railway websites:
Train schedules and information about day passes www.izukyu.co.jp/global_site
General information on Izukyu trains including fare table www.izukyu.jp/foreign_language/en
The Kurofune train meets the Kinme Train, Izu Peninsula
Places to stay
As a hot spring resort, Atami is well-served for accommodation in both hotels and ryokan (Japanese-style inns).
Some recommendations include the reliable and economical Toyoko Inn Atami Ekimae, the four star Auberge Fontaine Bleau Atami and the Ryokan Izuna.
Other possibilities are the three star Hotel Resorpia Atami right on the sea, the two star Minshuku Shigemura, the three star Atami Seaside spa & Resort and the Mujyuan with deluxe suites and rooms overlooking the ocean.
View towards the Sagami Coast from the Kurofune train
Access - Getting to Atami
The starting point of the Kurofune train is Atami Station. Atami Station can be reached from Tokyo via the JR Tokaido Line or a Kodama train of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
Alternatively, take an Odakyu Line train from Shinjuku Station to Odawara, then go from Odawara to Atami on the JR Tokaido Line.
Kurofune train at Jogasaki Kaigan Station, Izu Peninsula