Feel luxury on the train to Yufuin and Beppu – What does the “Kampachi/Ichiroku” mean?

JR Kyushu decided to the name of the new D&S train (sightseeing train) that will start operating from spring 2024 as the limited express “Kanpachi/Ichiroku,” which is derived from the names of two people who had a close connection during the construction of the Kyudai Line (Yufu Kogen Line.)

JR Kyushu Kiha 47 type diesel car "Isaburo / Shimpei" before being converted into the limited express "Kanpachi Ichiroku": a new D&S train that will start operating in the spring of 2024 (Image by JR Kyushu)
JR Kyushu Kiha 47 type diesel car “Isaburo / Shimpei” before being converted into the limited express “Kanpachi Ichiroku”: a new D&S train that will start operating in the spring of 2024 (Image by JR Kyushu)

Only “Green Seats” train with a buffet car

In conjunction with the “Fukuoka/Oita Destination Campaign” by JR Group, a D&S train will make its debut, running from Hakata Station via Yufuin Station to Beppu Station in about five hours. The concept is “a train with the climate of the Yufu Kogen Line.”
Inside the train, which is equipped with a buffet and all seats are Green Seats, you can enjoy a laxurious journey with the magnificent natural scenery from train windows and the boxed lunch made with ingredients from along the line.

It is based on two Kiha 47 type cars that were used as the limited express “Isaburo/Shinpei” on the Hisatsu Line, and all seats will be converted to green seats. In between, the Kiha 125 type for local lines will be sandwiched which will bemodified into a buffet, and the train will be operated in a three-car formation. Each rolling stocks have entered the Kokura General Train Center (Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka) in early October 2023 to undergo modification work. IFOO Co., Ltd. based in Kagoshima City has been appointed as the designer for the first time.

The Kyudai Line, on which Kanpachi/Ichiroku runs, is a 141.5km line connecting Kurume Station and Oita Station, and the entire line opened in 1934. Mr. Aso Kampachi and Mr. Eto Ichiroku were deeply involved in the realization of this idea and the decision of the route, and they are also the people from whom the train’s name is derived.

(See the chart below for details such as origin of train name, operating route, and train cars for the new D&S train, limited express “Kanpachi-Ichiroku”.)

[Chart] Origin of train name, operating route, and train cars for the new D&S train, limited express “Kanpachi-Ichiroku”

Two essential persons around the history of Kyudai Line

Kampachi was born in Hita, Oita Prefecture in 1865 as the fifth son of the Kusano family, but his family suffered bankruptcy and he was adopted into the Aso family at the age of just 15. The previous generation of the Aso family established a sake brewery called “Funakoya” (currently Yatsushika Brewery) in present-day Kokonoe Town, but due to repeated crises such as peasant uprisings and natural disasters, they gave up their rights to brew sake. Finally, Kampachi rebuilt Funakoya at the age of 20 as the third generation of the Aso family drawing on his own family’s experience of suffering.

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He was enthusiastic about public works projects, such as completing agricultural irrigation facilities that his predecessors had not been able to accomplish, and also led the movement to build the Kyudai Line as chairman of the Kusu County Council at the time. As a result of these efforts, the Kyudai Line was gradually extended from Oita Station, and it was extended to Bungomori Station in 1929, which passes through his hometown. Although Kanpachi passed away the year before, and was unable to see his long-awaited railroad opening, his accomplishments were recognized by the local community. Kampachi’s bronze statue was erected at Era Station.

On the Kyudai Line, the track that is supposed to extend west from Yunohira Station has a large curve. Ichiroku is involved in this, who was born into the Mizoguchi family in Kitayufu Village in 1870 and was adopted by the Eto family at the age of 21. Ichiroku became the managing director of the former Oita Prefectural Agricultural and Industrial Bank, and worked to attract the Kyudai Line to pass through former Minamiyufu and Kitayufu Villages. In 1925, Minamiyufu Station and Kitayufu Station (currently Yufuin Station) opened on the curve.

In parallel with this, Kitayufu Village proceeded with road construction around the station and built a town hall and elementary school. After that, the village developed greatly with the addition of houses and shops, and by taking advantage of its convenient transportation, it grew into “Yufuin,” Oita’s representative hot spring resort. Ichiroku’s achievement in becoming the president of the Bank was greatly praised in the local community, and the characteristic alignment of the Kyudai Line came to be called the “Ichiroku Curve.”

The train name changes depending on the direction; from Hakata Station to Yufuin Station/Beppu Station, the limited express “Kanpachi” runs, and from Beppu Station/Yufuin Station to Hakata Station, the limited express “Ichiroku” runs. There is only one service each way per day, and no service will be held on Thursdays.

By the way, the President of the Railway Agency at the time when Kanpachi petitioned for the construction of the Kyudai Line was Goto Shimpei, and he is one of the people who is the origin of the train name “Isaburo/Shimpei” that was given to the train before it was remodeled. D&S train is a word coined by JR Kyushu, which is an acronym for “design” and “story.” In addition to the one-of-a-kind train design, the company’s commitment to stories that unravel the history of the region and route continues in the name of this train.

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