Train Review: Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubame 317 from Hakata to Kumamoto by Train (800 Series Shinkansen)

Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubame 317 from Hakata to Kumamoto Train Review

The Tsubame is the all-stop Shinkansen train service on the Kyushu Shinkansen. I chose to ride this slightly slower train from Hakata to Kumamoto not for the speed, but rather, to catch the 800 Series Shinkansen which only operates within the Kyushu Shinkansen, and I would have a higher chance catching it on the Tsubame service.

Hakata Station

The façade of Hakata Station.

Heading in to Hakata Station.

Heading through the Shinkansen fare gates.

My Tsubame 317 train will be departing from Platform 11.

Heading up the escalator to the Shinkansen concourse.

At the Shinkansen concourse, there are some seats in waiting areas, along with convenience stores, but most importantly, the escalators leading up to the platforms are here.

Heading up to Platform 11. Train information is also displayed in front of the escalator.

There was an 800 Series Shinkansen train on Platform 11, but alas, it was not my train.

This was the terminating Tsubame 308 which will be heading back to the depot.

The station sign of Hakata Station.

After the empty set departed from Platform 11, my actual 800 Series Shinkansen came in for the cleaning crew to prepare for the journey.

The Kyushu Shinkansen 800 branding on the JR Kyushu 800 Series Shinkansen.

The train name, number, and destination is displayed on the LED panels by the corners of the train car.

The doors were cordoned off while the train was being cleaned.

JR Kyushu 800 Series Shinkansen Reserved Seat Car

The interior of the 800 Series Shinkansen reserved seat car. Seats are in a 2+2 configuration offering lots of space.

Luggage racks are available by the train doors with reservations required.

Bags with a total dimension of length + breadth + height of between 160 and 250 cm (generally bigger than a 24″ luggage) require a free reservation to use the Oversized Baggage Area (no extra charge compared to a reserved seat).

Passengers traveling with oversized baggage without a reservation will be charged a baggage fee (1,000 yen including tax).

The legroom available on the 800 Series Shinkansen reserved seat car.

A coat hook is available on the seat back in front.

A flip-out table is located in the middle armrest.

The many scratches on the armrest and tray table is quite surprising, considering that this is Japan. This 19-year-old train is certainly showing signs of ageing.

I bought my breakfast from FamilyMart to enjoy it on board the 800 Series Shinkansen.

My Tsubame 317 departed from Hakata Station on time at 9.41am.

The Shinkansen tracks sit slightly higher than the regular lines.

Train information is available on board with announcements and scrolling texts on LED signs.

Shin-Tosu Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-Tosu Station. This is an interchange station with the Nagasaki Main Line.

If travelling from the Tokaido Sanyo Kyushu Shinkansen to the Nagasaki Main Line with connecting trains such as Limited Express Kamome, Midori, or Huis Ten Bosch, changing trains at Shin-Tosu Station may offer a faster journey.

Window curtains are very unique, produced from Japanese cherry trees. This also does mean that lights are not completely blocked out. The journey times for train services operated by the 800 Series Shinkansen aren’t very long anyway.

Kurume Station

Making a brief stop at Kurume Station.

Western-style sitting toilets are available on board the 800 Series Shinkansen.

A male urinal toilet is also available.

An external wash basin area is also available.

A vending machine is installed on board, but is out of service.

Much of the Kyushu Shinkansen has noise barriers, resulting in extended views of concrete.

Chikugo-Funagoya Station

Making a brief stop at Chikugo-Funagoya Station.

Shin-Ōmuta Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-Ōmuta Station.

Shin-Tamana Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-Tamana Station.

The sun glare made it quite difficult for photos here, combined with the dirty windows.

Approaching Kumamoto Station.

Kumamoto Station

My Tsubame 317 train arrived at Kumamoto Station on time at 10.29am, making this a journey of 48 minutes. In comparison, a non-stop Mizuho train could make this journey in only 32 minutes.

The station sign of Kumamoto Station and southbound Shinkansen timetable towards Kagoshima-Chūō Station.

My off-service Tsubame 317 at Kumamoto Station.

My Tsubame 317 feeds passengers from intermediate stations to connect with the Sakura 545 towards Kagoshima-Chūō Station.

A simple cross-platform transfer is provided at Kumamoto Station for this connection.

The Sakura 545 plies the full Sanyo Kyushu Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima-Chūō.

Heading down the escalator to the exit.

There is a transfer gate between the Shinkansen concourse and local trains concourse.

Kumamon is at Kumamoto to welcome passengers.

Heading out of the Shinkansen fare gates.

The concourse of Kumamoto Station.

The façade of Kumamoto Station West Gate.

The station square of Kumamoto Station East Gate.

The façade of Kumamoto Station East Gate.


The JR Kyushu 800 Series Shinkansen is certainly unique, but showing signs of ageing with lots of scratches on the seat, along with dirty windows, offering a blurry view. Not what I expected of Japan, so this is definitely a new experience.

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