Monthly Archives: November 2017

#11: Izu Craile (伊豆クレイル号)

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Source: Toshinori Baba

Izu Craile is a limited-express resort train running between Odawara Station in Kanagawa Prefecture to Izukyu-Shimoda Station, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Izu Course Map

Starting point near the famous hot spring resort of Hakone

Price: ¥3,570 one-way (¥2,290 fare + ¥1,280 Green Car seat reservation)

Note: This entire train is Green Car seating, which is a premium-level seat. Due to this, the price is slightly higher than a normal reserved seat.

Time: 2 hours, 28 minutes

When: It runs on Fridays, weekends, public holidays and the day before a public holiday.

Ride Report:

Izu Craile is one of JR East’s newer resort trains, debuting in July 2016. With only 98 seats on the 4-car train, it’s an intimate journey along the eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula. Each car has it’s own different seating layout, while Car 2, which includes a lounge and bar, doesn’t have any reserved seating at all and is a free space for all passengers.

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Important Note: If you want to sit in Car 1 or 3, it must be purchased through JR East’s own travel agency, as these seats also include boxed/special meals and specialized staff. Seats for Car 4 can be reserved as normal through ticket machines or JR East’s Midori-no-Madoguchi (みどりの窓口) offices.

For us, the journey began at Odawara Station, where there were signs for Izu Craile all over the place.

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From Car Position signs on the floor…

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…to signs commemorating it’s first year of service.

There’s also an exclusive lounge for passengers of Izu Craile, which is open for about an hour right before departure. Although I say lounge, don’t think of it as a lounge which could be found at the airport or anything. It’s more of a waiting space than anything else. Inside you can find some really handy brochures and pamphlets about your destination, a scale model of the train and a water dispenser. Again, nothing too fancy, but it’s well-designed and creates a comfortable place before departure.

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Lounge w/ commemorative photo location in front

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Inside the lounge offers brochures, maps, and a small-scale model of the train itself

About 10-15 minutes before departure, the lounge staff will inform all the passengers that the train will be arriving to the platform, where they have the chance to take pictures of the train arriving, as well as take even more commemorative pictures.

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All-aboard!

Now, it’s worth noting that this train’s main target market is focused towards the wanderlust-loving woman, hence the train’s ‘kawaii’ design and bright interior. If you take a look at the travel brochure, you can see there isn’t a guy in sight (other than the on-board entertainment). This goes with the ever-increasing trend of having a “Jo-shi kai” (女子会) or ‘girls’s night/day out.’ According to JR East, “the exterior is redesigned to incorporate a softer, more feminine touch into the otherwise powerful image of the 651-series limited express car. Depicting the cherry blossom trees, sea wind and rippling waves of Izu in golden pink lines, the new design is an apt fit for this elegant resort train created for adults.”

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Not a woman? Not to worry as I saw plenty of other guys ride the train too (probably dragged on by their significant other). Is it child-friendly? To be honest, I didn’t see any other children on board, other than my own 3-year old daughter, but there isn’t a rule against it. Since its a 2+ hour ride, might be safe to bring along a iPad, books or something else to keep them occupied.

Once on board, you’ll be greeted by a warm interior with very comfortable seating. The small wooden peg at the top of each seat is a nice touch, especially if you tend to be moving around a lot while the train is in motion.

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One of my favorite moments during the journey happens right at the beginning. As soon as you start to depart, you’ll see station staff waving goodbye as you pass them by.

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You’ll get a greeting from everyone! Including train servicing staff…

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…skilled rail workers…

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…conductors…

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…random people on the platform…

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…more JR staff…

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…and more JR conductors.

They’ll continue to do that at each station you arrive and depart from. It’s a really small gesture, but is one of those key details that makes the trip unforgettable.

No trip is complete without an eki-ben, or station bento box, so make sure to pick one up at Odawara Station before leaving as there are TONS of choices.

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What’s inside?

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Pork Ginger Bento!

If you didn’t have time to get a bento, not to worry because there is an on-board cafe to take care of the hunger within. In addition to the sandwiches and snacks, they also have exclusive cocktails using locally-grown fruit. During this season it happened to be Izu mandarin oranges.

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Chalkboard menu

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Snacks, drinks, souvenirs and more.

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Low-alcohol, but high-tastiness

Much of the Izukyu-ko Line travels along the ocean, allowing you nice views as you make your way down the coast. Try to get seats on that side to allow unobstructed views during the journey (Note: In Car 4, seats A and B are on the ocean-side, seats C and D are mountain-side.)

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During the last hour or so during the journey, you can enjoy live music in the lounge. I thought it would be some slow acoustic or something, but these particular entertainers were rocking out, especially the guitarist. The upbeat, high-tempo melodies of this talented duo was a nice way to close out the ride as we approached our final destination.

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Finally you’ll arrive at Izukyu-Shimoda Station where you can get a few last shots of the train and if you’re lucky, you can also see some of the other Limited Express trains waiting at the other platforms. The station itself is also pretty interesting and worth a look around if you have a moment.

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All in all, it’s a very enjoyable and comfortable Limited Express train offering great views of the Pacific Ocean along the way. If you plan on heading to Izu Peninsula in the future, this is a nice train to consider towards your destination.

Again, main details can be found below as well as some other sites to assist with your planning needs. If any questions or feel I’ve left something important out, please use the comment section below. Happy travelling (by train!).

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  • Fare: One-way ¥3,570 Adults, ¥2,420 Children (From Odawara Station to Izukyu Shimoda Station)
    • Other classes: No option, unless booking through JR Travel Agency for Car #1 and #3
    • Of course, if you get off at a different station, price will decrease depending on distance traveled
  • Seating:
    • ALL reserved seating.
    • Tickets can be bought online (through JR’s booking website, Eki-net) or at the station with a Midori-no-Madoguchi
  • Time and Distance:
    • From Odawara Station to Izukyu-Shimoda Station
      • 2 hour 28 minutes
      • 83.3 kilometers
  • Schedule:
    • All year round
  • OK to book with JR Rail Pass: Yes

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Useful Links:

Izu Craile – (English) Official page of the train by JR East. Includes plenty of information, a Google Street View of the interior of the train, ticket reservation details and more

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