The Resort 21 Kurofune Train
From Atami to Shimoda
The Resort 21 Kurofune is part of a series of trains that travel the Izu area, between Atami Station and Izukyu Shimoda Station in Shizuoka Prefecture. The Black Ship Train is one of those.
Atami Station there are many onsen hot springs and beaches, as well as a nationally famous art museum. The MOA Art Museum even includes one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s tea rooms used for tea ceremonies! From Atami Station, there is a bus (it will say it’s headed to the MOA, it’s the last stop) that takes 10 minutes.
The museum is open from 9:30 to 16:30 daily except Thursdays. 1600 yen for adults, 800 for students, free for children 14 and under.
In the same area, the fishing town of Shimoda includes a port town and market with a very retro ambiance. Dried goods (such as squid and seaweed) are displayed by the light of gas lanterns.
There’s even a sake spot that’s been around since the Meiji Era!
This train is called the "Kurofune" train as the exterior of the cars is totally black like the American black ships arriving in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Inside the train images recall this episode of history.
On one side, it runs right along the sea! On the opposite side, you can see the nature of Japan, the beautiful contrast between mountains and verdant green.
If you’re planning on taking this special express, be aware that you will need to reserve a seat.
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.