Rapid Resort Shirakami (リゾートしらかみ Rizōto Shirakami) is a limited-stop “Rapid” service operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) as a sightseeing train along the scenic coastal Gono Line in the north of Japan since March 1997.
The train service operates between Akita and Aomori via the Ou Main Line and Gono Line, with the journey taking approximately 5 hours. Three return services run daily, with one service operating between Akita and Hirosaki only, and the other two reversing at Hirosaki.
The Aoike was introduced as the first Resort Shirakami train configuration in 1997, and since a timetable revision in December 2010, has run with the new HB-E300 hybrid train. Building on the exterior design of the original Aoike configuration, the new Aoike is colored with two base tones, a deep blue horizontal line that represents the coastline and a lighter blue for the mystical 12 Lakes, one of which is named Aoike.
The contrasting blues plus the silver on the hybrid cars express a train that is harmonious and environmentally friendly. The interior is tied together in off-white, with wood patterning for the walls and luggage racks, and cork flooring for a textured feel.
The second train configuration for the Resort Shirakami, the Buna (beech) went into service in 2003 in time for the Kita Tohoku Destination Campaign, and displays the deep green of the Shirakami Sanchi highlands. The interior seating is done in green tones to complement the beech theme of the train, and indirect illumination is used at night for the ceiling to give the impression of a starry sky.
The third configuration of the Resort Shirakami is the Kumagera, whose design was inspired by the setting sun of the Gono Line and the black woodpecker (kumagera in Japanese), which lives in the Shirakami Sanchi highlands. A red tone appropriate for that bird is used for the seating. In December 2010, all three train configurations underwent schedule revisions and were increased from three to four cars.
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