The 36+3 luxury train is a new daytime service inaugurated in October 2020. The jet-black-and-gold-trim trains are refurbished Express 787 series models that JR Kyushu has remodeled to the highest standard of luxurious comfort. They operate on 5 routes around Japan’s southernmost main island, Kyushu.
The meaning of 36+3 is derived from the fact that Kyushu is the 36th largest island in the world, combined with the 3 elements of JR Kyushu, locals, and customers coming together on the new service. Additionally, the number 39 is written as “san-kyu” in Japanese, which is also similar to how “thanks” is pronounced in the language.
36+3 train car design
The interiors of the 36+3 have been remodeled by the same designer as the famous Seven Stars Kyushu sleeper train, one of the most luxurious trains in the world.
However, while that train only runs at night, the 36+3 exclusively operates during the day and in some evenings. Additionally, the 6-car train has a capacity of 105 passengers.
Like the Seven Stars train, the car interiors boast a mix of classic Japanese and modern western designs. Unique traditional features include Shoji screen doors and an arched latticework ceiling in the lounge car in the “Okawa kumiko” style, which originated in Kyushu’s Fukuoka Prefecture.
Cars 1 and 2 contain 13 private compartments with western-style couches that can host up to 6 people, while cars 5 and 6 host the regular seating and are outfitted with tatami mat floors. The rush grass used for the mats has been sourced in Kumamoto Prefecture.
Cars 3 and 4 host the bar where passengers can have a drink or a snack or try local delicacies, and a lounge that doubles as an event space and dining room.
Routes covered by the 36+6
The 36+3 luxury train operates on 5 scenic routes that make a complete circuit around the circumference of Kyushu, beginning in Fukuoka (Hakata station), which you can easily reach using your JR Pass.
The service stops in all 7 prefectures, although the route differs depends on the day you wish you take the train:
- Thursday: Hakata to Kagoshima-Chuo via Kumamoto Prefecture
- Friday: Kagoshima Chuo to Miyazaki via Osumi Okawara, Kinko Bay, and the Sakurajima volcano
- Saturday: Miyazaki Airport to Beppu, via Kyushu’s eastern coast and Saiki City
- Sunday: Oita to Hakata via the island’s northern coastline along Beppu Bay
- Monday: Hakata Station to Nagasaki with a stop in Hizenhama, a historic town known for its sake breweries
Each service includes a designated serving time for lunch and dinner (except for the Thursday route), as well as an extended stop in a city along the way. Additionally, the Monday route operates in 2 different directions.
The complete schedule for each route can be found below.
(9:58 am on public holidays)
|Tamana||11:10 am||11:30 am|
|Kumamoto||11:50 am||12:00 pm|
|Ushinohama||14:25 pm||14:45 pm|
|Kagoshima Chuo||16:24 pm||N/A|
|Kagoshima Chuo||N/A||12:17 pm|
|Osumi-Ogawara||13:20 pm||14:10 pm|
|Aoidake||15:05 pm||15:15 pm|
Lunch plan offer time: 12:30 pm.
|Miyazaki Airport||N/A||11:36 am|
|Miyazaki||11:47 am||11:51 am|
|Nobeoka||13:20 pm||13:30 pm|
|Sotaro||14:15 pm||14:25 pm|
|Oita||16:49 pm||16:55 pm|
Lunch plan offer time: 12:00 pm.
|Beppu||10:58 am||11:08 am|
|Kitsuki||11:25 am||11:40 am|
|Nakatsu||12:10 pm||12:20 pm|
|Mojiko||14:10 pm||14:50 pm|
Lunch plan offer time: 12:30 pm (private room), 12:00 pm (seat).
Hakata – Nagasaki
(11:06 am on public holidays)
|Saga||12:07 pm||12:20 pm|
|Hizenhama||13:05 pm||14:00 pm|
Lunch plan offer time: 11:30 am.
Nagasaki – Hakata
|Saga||19:49 pm||20:05 pm|
Dinner plan offer time: 18:00 pm.
Prices and conditions of 36+3 services
The price of a ride on the 36+3 Express 787 luxury train typically includes a meal plan, which is served during the journey. You can board each route on a daily basis and pay for each ride separately.
The fare depends on the chosen route and ranges from 12,000 yen to 30,000 yen for an adult fare. Although there are a variety of different seating options, all the cars are green (luxury) cars.
It is necessary to make a reservation with JR Kyushu in advance to ride on a 36+3 service. Phone reservations must be made at least 10 days before the intended departure date, while internet bookings are accepted up to 5 days in advance.