KAIRI

Route Map

Enjoy Niigata and Shonai cuisine and the beautiful vistas

Food of Niigata and Shonai

Unlike the teahouse districts of Kyoto and Kanazawa, the Furumachi Kagai, where Niigata's ryotei restaurants are scattered, is a large-scale traditional hanamachi (geisha district) that flourished mainly with restaurants and is the best in Japan. With all of this amazing food culture, we offer a seasonal menu of elaborate “Japanese cuisine” unique to Niigata, prepared by selected three restaurants with a history and prestige that has continued for over 100 years.

Enjoy the gems of Shonai Italian cuisine and dolce.

The tour will offer Italian cuisine from Al che-cciano, founded in 2000 by top Japanese chef Masayuki Okuda, and an assortment of dolce from Farinamore Dolce, a specialty dolce store.
Please enjoy your meal while taking your time to admire the scenery as the train will operate slowly between Echigo-Samukawa and Kuwagawa.

A spectacular view that will be a sight for sore eyes

Niigata Prefecture and the Shonai region of Yamagata Prefecture are rich in sea and villages.
Please enjoy a particularly beautiful view of the Sea of Japan while dining at “KAIRI,” our “Sea of Japan View Dining Room” for a quality trip.

A fusion of “sunset” and “fresh snow”

The KAIRI is a new hybrid diesel configured with four cars providing service between Niigata and Sakata. Expressing a dynamic fusion of the setting sun and fresh snow using color gradation, the exterior was designed to become the newest addition to the Niigata landscape.

KAIRI [Niigata and Yamagata Prefectures]
Route Map
Debut year
October 2019
Service area
Niigata to Sakata Stations

Travel Guide


Here are some recommended spots in various areas that the KAIRI goes to.

KAIRI route map
  • Attraction 1: Sakata Station area
  • Attraction 2: Honma Museum of Art
  • Attraction 3: Former Abumiya
Photo: Sakata Station Area
Sakata Station Area
Photo: Sakata Station Area

Sakata Station Area

The port town of Sakata prospered as a hub of maritime traffic. Visitors can experience the rich history and culture of the area since the Edo period, including the Sankyo Warehouse, a symbol of Shonai, a rice-producing region, and the old Abumiya, a cedar bark-roofed house with a stone-planked cedar roof. It is also famous as a filming location for the movie “(dep.)s.”

Photo: Honma Museum of Art
Honma Museum of Art
Photo: Honma Museum of Art

Honma Museum of Art

This museum exhibits the collection of calligraphy, paintings, and arts and crafts handed down by the Honma family, a wealthy merchant in Sakata who devoted himself to public service. In the “Kakubu-en,” designated by the national government as a place of scenic beauty, the famous stone and granite lanterns brought in by Kitamae-boats enhance the atmosphere of the place. The main building, Seienkaku, is an exquisite Kyoto-style structure that has welcomed many distinguished guests as Sakata's guest house. The museum also holds special exhibitions as needed, such as the Ohinasama (Dolls) Exhibition every March, where visitors can enjoy not only antique art but also contemporary art.

Access
About a 5 minute walk from Sakata Station on the JR Uetsu Line
Photo: Old Abumiya
Old Abumiya
Photo: Old Abumiya

Old Abumiya

Abumiya was a representative shipping wholesaler in Sakata that flourished throughout the Edo period and played a major role in shipping on the Sea of Japan. The house, designated as a National Historic Site, is said to have been rebuilt right after the great fire of 1845, and was built in the typical machiya style with a cedar bark roof overlaid with stones, which was widely used in the Shonai area at that time. Restoration work was carried out in 1998, and the building is now open to the public as the old Abumiya.

Access
About 8 minutes by Shonai Kotsu Bus from Sakata Station on the JR Uetsu Line

Train Details

The KAIRI is a new hybrid diesel configured with four cars providing service between Niigata and Sakata. The exterior of the train is designed with a gradation of colors from sunset orange to white, which is reminiscent of “fresh snow,” and aims to create a sense of unity with the scenery by incorporating outdoor light.
The sea and village life are prominent characteristics of Niigata Prefecture and the Shonai region of Yamagata Prefecture. With the idea of passengers enjoying wonderful seafood and village cooking while gazing at picturesque panoramas, the KAIRI was named for the sea (kai) and villages (ri).

Car interior

Car no. 1

Tickets (basic fare tickets and reserved seat tickets) are available for purchase.


This car mainly consists of 30 reclining seats that seat two people. It is designed with the seats facing the window so that passengers can enjoy the scenery. The spacious interior allows passengers to relax and enjoy the view of the Sea of Japan, the Echigo/Shonai Plain, and the three peaks of Dewa.

Car no. 2

Tickets (basic fare tickets and reserved seat tickets) are available for purchase.

32 Private compartment seats
Each compartment in this car seats four people. The seats can be folded down into a full-flat position for stretching out the legs and an extra level of relaxation.

  • *When purchased by 1-3 persons, seats may be shared.

Car no. 3 Stores/Event Space

This car has a store offering mainly “Niigata food” and “Shonai food” and an event space. The store sells original KAIRI packages, drinks, snacks, and original boxed lunches available only on KAIRI trains.

  • *For KAIRI special lunch box, please use the advance reservation service "Uketrippu".

Car no. 4 Dining

[On sale in travel packages]

24 seats in the dining room. The dining car features both two-person and four-person seating where passengers can enjoy Niigata and Shonai cuisines to their hearts' content. It is available for sale as a travel package that includes meals and drinks.

  • *This is a special car for travel packages.
    Please refrain from entering unless you have a reserved a ticket for Car no. 4.

Car layout

Diesel hybrid train, HB-E300 series, 4 cars, 1 formation, capacity of 86 passengers

  • Layout is for illustrative purposes only.

Make the most of your train ride

The concept of the train is "food of Niigata", "food of Shonai" and "landscape of the Sea of Japan".
Car No. 4 is a "dining vehicle" exclusively for travel products with meals.
We will provide meals in the car that will make you feel the charm.
Enjoy a high-quality trip while gazing at the beautiful scenery of the Sea of Japan.

Dining Guide

Introducing the outbound menu

Inside the train from Niigata to Tsuruoka/Sakata (outbound)

Ryotei Niigata NabedyayaHyakunen Ryotei

The main building, a traditional three-story wooden structure, is registered as a Tangible Cultural Property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The restaurant was founded at the end of the Edo period (1846). Due to the founder starting out serving softshell turtle hot pot, a turtle shell mark is painted all over the restaurant.
It has continued to maintain its first-class taste and style for 177 years, and is widely popular among people from outside the prefecture and overseas.

  • Ryotei Niigata Nabejaya (exterior)
    Ryotei Niigata Nabejaya (exterior)
  • Ryotei Niigata Nabejaya - Eiji Takahashi, Representative
    Ryotei Niigata Nabejaya - Eiji Takahashi, Representative
Autumn menu (October 6 - November 19)
Autumn menu (October 6 - November 19)
Meal example
  • *The meal menu is subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients.
  • *Supplied to those who have applied for the travel package of Car no. 4


Ryotei Ichishime

The restaurant started as a fresh fish wholesaler established by Tsuruzo Kojima in 1872.
The Japanese restaurant he started in 1916 became the original form of today's Ichishime.
The signature dish is Japanese eel. Eel is traditionally served in the hottest days of the summer, but it is also a great dish to eat throughout the whole year.

  • Executive Chef Hiroki Muramatsu of Ryotei Ichishime
    Executive Chef Hiroki Muramatsu of Ryotei Ichishime
Autumn menu (November 23 - November 26)
Autumn menu (November 23 - November 26)
Meal example
Winter menu (February 3 - February 25, 2024)
Winter menu (February 3 - February 25, 2024)
Meal example
  • *The meal menu is subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients.
  • *Supplied to those who have applied for the travel package of Car no. 4


Newly available from DecemberJapanese cuisine Ohashiya

This is a historic restaurant in the port city of Niigata, which was founded in the 2nd year of Keio, when the founder Taikichi Ohashi started a fresh fish brokerage business.
The main building, which was completed in 1933, is registered as a tangible cultural property by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
We incorporate traditional Niigata local cuisine into Kaiseki cuisine and serve it using traditional methods.

  • Japanese Restaurant Ohashiya (New Building)
    Japanese Restaurant Ohashiya (New Building)
  • Japanese Restaurant Ohashiya Masaaki Ohashi Representative
    Japanese Restaurant Ohashiya Masaaki Ohashi Representative
Winter menu (December 2 - December 17)
Winter menu (December 2 - December 17)
Meal example
  • *All meal menus are subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients.
  • *Provided to those who apply for the 4th car travel product.


Newly available from January 2024Tsubamesanjo Bit

An Italian restaurant founded in 2013 and headquartered in the Tsubame-Sanjo area of Niigata.
Based on the concept of “communicating the charm of Niigata to the world through food and drink,“ we offer authentic Italian cuisine using carefully selected ingredients.
From amuse to dessert, you can enjoy it like a full course.

  • Tsubamesanjo main store (interior view)
    Tsubamesanjo main store (interior view)
  • Tsubamesanjo Bit Takeshi Akiyama Owner Chef
    Tsubamesanjo Bit Takeshi Akiyama Owner Chef
Winter menu (January 13 - January 28, 2024)
Winter menu (January 13 - January 28, 2024)
Meal example
  • *All meal menus are subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients.
  • *Provided to those who apply for the 4th car travel product.


Inbound trip menu

In the train from Sakata/Tsuruoka to Niigata (inbound)

Al che-cciano

Established in 2000, Japan's top chef Masayuki Okuda continues to offer gems of Shonai Italian cuisine, focusing on “native crops” that have been cultivated in the Shonai region for generations and are familiar to the people and “ties with producers.”
In addition to Al che-cciano's Okuda Italian dishes, an assortment of dolce from Mr. Masayuki Okuda's dolce specialty restaurant, Farinamore Dolce, will be offered.

  • Al Quecciano (exterior)
  • Al Quecciano, Mr. Masayuki Okuda
Autumn menu (October 6 - November 26)
Autumn menu (October 6 - November 26)
Meal example
Winter menu (December 2, 2023 - February 25, 2024)
Winter menu (December 2, 2023 - February 25, 2024)
Meal example
  • *The meal menu is subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients.
  • *Supplied to those who have applied for the travel package of Car no. 4


Year-end and New Year period (December 23, 2023 - January 8, 2024)
Menu introduction

Inside the train from Niigata to Tsuruoka/Sakata (down) and from Sakata/Tsuruoka to Niigata (up)

During the year-end and New Year period, limited sweets boxes and drinks will be available on both outbound and return flights.
In addition to tasting it on the train, you can also take it home as a souvenir.
Please use it for a relaxing and slightly luxurious trip or return home.

SUZUVEL

A restaurant made with local ingredients, managed by SUZU GROUP, which has eight stores in Niigata City and Nagaoka City.
We offer highly original dishes that have been arranged so that you can enjoy them in a more casual setting, taking advantage of the “delicious charm" of the food culture and traditional vegetables found in various parts of Niigata Prefecture.
Renovated in May 2023, we welcome customers as a “food tourist information center" where you can always enjoy over 200 types of sake and Niigata craft beer.

  • SUZUVEL (exterior)
    SUZUVEL (exterior)
  • “SUZU GROUP“ Masashi Suzuki Representative
    “SUZU GROUP“ Masashi Suzuki Representative
Year-end and New Year limited time sweets BOX (December 23, 2023 - January 8, 2024)
Year-end and New Year limited time sweets BOX (December 23, 2023 - January 8, 2024)
Example of sweets BOX menu
  • *All menus are subject to change depending on the availability of ingredients.
  • *Provided to those who apply for the 4th car travel product.
  • *The menu will be the same for both outbound and return trips.


What is Hyakunen Ryotei?

The Hyakunen Ryotei Network is a network of ryotei whose buildings and surrounding facilities have a history of more than 100 years and are still in business. The purpose of this network is to continue to preserve traditional Japanese cuisine and carry on the family traditions and customs of individual families, while making great strides as a long-established restaurant in the region; we will contribute to the revitalization of local cities by promoting mutual exchanges and attracting customers from home and abroad.

Hyakunen Ryotei

Introduction of OHASHI Western Tableware

Inside the train from Niigata to Sakata (Outbound) and from Sakata to Niigata (Inbound)

Ohashi Western Tableware is a long-established Western tableware store that has been operating for over 100 years in Niigata City, one of the largest port towns on the Sea of Japan coast, where Kitamae-boats once called at ports and where the city has developed as people and cultures from many different regions have entered. While preserving its traditions in the midst of ever-changing times, the store creates new values using “tableware” as its starting point. KAIRI's original tableware decorates the meals we serve.



Drinks included in the package


[Welcome drink/outbound (Niigata-Sakata) October/November]

Echigo Beer

Taiyozakari

Gassan wine (red/white)
*It will be served in a glass.

Murakami tea (left) / Yukiiro Soda (right)


[Welcome drink/Return trip (Sakata-Niigata) October/November]

Gassan Beer

Taiyozakari

Gassan wine (red/white)
*It will be served in a glass.

Yamagata Daihyo juice (left) / Al che-ccia tea (right)


  • *The drink menu is subject to change depending on the availability.
  • *Alcoholic beverage cannot be served to underage passengers.
    We may ask you to show identification to verify your age.


Car no. 3 Kiosk guide

The kiosk in Car no. 3 sells original KAIRI merchandise, drinks, snacks, and more.
The selection features local delicacies unique to Niigata and Yamagata.

KAIRI original product



KAIRI's special lunch box

We will be offering original bento boxes only available on board the KAIRI train, allowing you to experience KAIRI 's concept of “Niigata food“.

To purchase, please use the advance reservation service "Uketrippu" from your smartphone.
  • Uketorippu

    *Reservations can be made up to 5 days before the boarding date.
    *Some tickets may not be sold on the same day.
    *Advance reservations will receive KAIRI original sticker.
    (One piece per piece. It will end as soon as it runs out)
    Click here to make a reservation. (Smartphone site)

KAIRI Special Kashimaya Gozen
(Outbound) Starting from Niigata Station
(Inbound) Available from Sakata Station

Niigata Kashimaya is a long-established Niigata store that has been manufacturing and selling processed foods, mainly seafood, since its founding in 1855.
Please enjoy Kashimaya's special flavors such as the popular “King Salmon Miso-zuke“, “Ikura Salmon Pickled in Soy Sauce“, and “Shrimp Shinjo“ along with “Uonuma Koshihikari“.

Timetable & Calendar

How to Board

 How to purchase 
Travel Packages

Package Summary

Travel packages are sold as a set including a JR ticket for "KAIRI" Car no. 4 (24-people capacity), meals, drinks, etc.

* Car no. 4 is limited to customers who have purchased a travel package. You can apply for 1 to 4 people.
*Tickets are sold for Car no. 1 (30-people capacity) and Car no. 2 (32-people capacity).
*JR East View Tourism & Sales Co., Ltd. plans and implements the trip.
*Some service days may not be set for travel packages.

Purchase Locations

Sold on the “Joyful Trains Reservation Site.” (Cannot be purchased through the JR-EAST Train Reservation system)
■■Easy Online Reservations■■
Joyful Trains Reservation Site (Japanese only)

*Some boarding dates listed in the service calendar may not have travel packages set, or may not be available for reservation on the Joyful Trains Reservation Site because they are sold by another travel agency.

About reserved seat tickets in Cars no. 1 and 2

Purchase Locations

Seat reservations can be made at JR-EAST Train Reservation, JR Ticket Office(Midori-no-Madoguchi)at major JR stations, and seat Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines from 10:00 a.m. (*) one month prior to the date of use.
(*Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines open at 10:10 a.m.)

Sale Price

840 yen

(If you use a JR East Rail Pass such as JR EAST PASS, you can make a seat reservation without paying an additional fee. Please make a reservation for a reserved seat (free of charge) at the sales location.)

  • - Operating days and hours may be subject to change.
  • - All images and diagrams are intended as an example.

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