Misuzu Shiosai Train みすず潮彩
Running from Shimonoseki Station in Shimonoseki at the southern tip of western Yamaguchi, up the coast of the Hibiki Nada Sea, and round to Senzaki in Nagato on the Japan Sea Coast, the Misuzu Shiosai Train is a scenic view, tourist train running a round trip once a day.
The unusual and stylish exterior sports an Art Deco paint job and includes triangular and octagonal windows. The interiors are also fashioned in 1920's style and one car features sofa seating facing out to enjoy the sea view. The trains design was by Nagato City Art Director Shingo Ozaki.
Shiosai is a Japanese word that means the sound of the surf, and the train makes three stops along the way to enjoy and take photos of marvelous sea views. The other part of the trains name - Misuzu - refers to a Senzaki native female poet Misuzu Kaneko, and stations along the route feature posts inscribed with her poems. On weekends, entertainment on board the train is provided by kamishibai, a traditional form of story telling using pictures that enjoyed a revival during the 1920's. The kamishibai on the train tell stories about the life of Misuzu Kaneko.
Born in 1903 in the fishing village of Senzaki, now part of Nagato, at the age of twenty Misuzu Kaneko began publishing children's poems in magazines. In an unhappy arranged marriage she was forbidden from writing by her husband even though her work was popular, she eventually divorced her husband and committed "protest" suicide to get custody of her young daughter to her mother rather than her abusive husband. She was just 26 years old. Though popular during her brief lifetime, she faded from public view until the 1980's when three of her notebooks containing over five hundred poems were discovered.
The train makes one round trip a day and reservations would be advisable for the viewing car. Instead of returning on the same line you could return via the Mine Line which runs south across the prefecture, or you could head up the Japan Sea coast on the San-in Line to the old samurai town of Hagi.
The Nagato area itself is little visited, but is well worth an overnight stay. Just inland is the onsen resort of Yumoto, and the coastline of the area is known as the Marine Alps, with towering cliffs and sea caves viewable by tour boats.
The JR Rail Pass is valid on the Misuzu Shiosai train.