When touring around the Kansai area, there’s a whole lot to see and not always enough time. A popular way to ensure that you don’t waste precious time during your trip is to travel by sightseeing train.

The Kyo-train, ran by Hankyu railways, is a sightseeing express which allows you to take in the scenery while enjoying a luxury atmosphere. The Kyo-train GARAKU, which has recently started running, is the second edition, which will go between Osaka Umeda and Kyoto Kawaramachi.

With the concept of fully immersing passengers in a Kyoto atmosphere as soon as they step foot on the train, the interior theme is ‘Japanese Modern, Kyomachiya’. Kyomachiya are wooden townhouses which were common in Kyoto before the 1950s.

Before the train set off to make all our Kyoto fantasies come true, concept art was released via a press release. Now that GARAKU is fully up and running, real photos have emerged in their promotional materials and online, proving it’s just as beautiful as promised.

Each of the six carriages have a seasonal theme so passengers can walk through the train and experience Kyoto’s changes through the seasons, using Japan’s fauna as a decorative motif. Carriage 1 is all about autumn and is adorned with maple leaves, the theme of carriage 2 is winter and bamboo. Carriage 3 goes classic with a cherry blossom spring, and summer is represented by hollyhock. Carriages 5 and 6 take pay tribute to Japan’s micro-seasons, early autumn’s susuki grass, and early spring is plum blossom.

Circular windows are installed as a nod to those found in Kyoto’s shrines and temples, and some cars even have mini Japanese gardens to enjoy in a stylish and relaxing setting.

Despite the luxurious interior, a ride on the Kyo-train doesn't require a special ticket or reservation, it costs just 400 yen from Umeda to Kawaramachi, the same as a normal train ride on the Hankyu line. You just have to plan ahead to make sure you catch the right one.

More information including timetables can be found on the Hankyu website.

By - Jess.