Kumamoto, a rural prefecture on Kyushu Island off the mainland of Japan, is one of the remaining “car societies” in a country using more and more public transportation. It is also home to one of the country’s roving party locations: the Beer Garden Train. While it’s nothing unusual to see drunk people on public transportation in Japan, this one-car trolley actually encouraged us to imbibe!


While Halloween is often a time for impromptu train parties in various Japanese cities, they’re generally considered nuisances and we would strongly discourage you from joining them. However, if you absolutely must take your party on the road, why not hop on a party train, like the “Beer Garden Train” in Kumamoto City? Though it was a little short on supplies, we still had a blast!

▼ The interior is just like a classic diner too!


Where’s the beer?

When we first got on the train, we opened our mouths to shout out for “nama biiru,” or draft beer, as they call it in Japan. But there wasn’t even a server! All they had on board was a little cooler with some cans of beer, apparently set up by the sponsors. That was a little disappointing, we have to admit, but beer is beer.

▼ Does it really matter if your beer comes out of a can or a mug? He thinks not!


Where are the snacks??

Okay, figuring we were there for the experience rather than the tasty drinks, we grabbed some cans and set about deciding what to snack on.

“Hmm…where’s the menu?”

There wasn’t one. However they did supply us with a massive tray of finger food, noting that it was “first come, first serve.” So, learn from our mistakes: If there’s something you really want, be sure to bring it with you! And that doesn’t just include food and drink…

▼ The best reason to arrive early to anywhere ever!



Where’s the toilet???

No matter how large your bladder, once the beer starts flowing, there’s not much you can do to keep the waterworks off. Eventually you’re going to need to hit the head and relieve some pressure. But if you look around the train, you’ll notice something’s missing.

“Hey,” we asked, “Where’s the toilet?”

Turns out the answer is: There isn’t one! Instead, the train makes regular stops for bathroom breaks. Though no matter how many stops there are, you know someone’s going to be playing the “hold it in and don’t pee your pants” waiting game. We would not encourage you to make it a drinking game…but we also wouldn’t complain if you sent pictures of the losers.

▼ Sprinting for the bathroom at one of the regularly scheduled stops.


▼ In between stops, one of us felt the call of the wild.
We tried pounding the stop button, but it didn’t work unfortunately.


Where are the empty seats?

There weren’t any of those either. The train might have looked spacious when empty, but it didn’t take long to get full. However, it turns out that this was a good thing. Scrunched up together with all these strangers and a couple of cans of beer bubbling in our bellies made for a fun time. It was impossible not to get to know your neighbor!

▼ A “no smoking” sign, meaning you don’t have to breathe your neighbor’s smoke.
Just the sweet smell of his armpit sweat.


▼ Three cheers for train beer!


Where’s the karaoke?

Of course, with this being a Japanese party train, we expected there to be some drunken, communal singing. We were wrong. And there wasn’t even any background music! All we had was the hum of the Beer Garden Train’s engine.

Just some counters and seats

So, in the end, all the Beer Garden Train really offers is a few counters and seats on a track. Really the only difference between this and any other train is that they don’t care if you eat and drink…or how loud you get.


But, honestly, we still had a great time! As with any party, a large part is the people you’re with–and how much booze you have. In fact, the train is quite popular and can be rented out by groups for 15,000 yen (about US$150). However, the train only runs for two hours a night–from 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm–and only operates from June to September. For more information, you can contact the Kumamoto city Transportation Department. Their website can be found here (Japanese only). For in-person inquiries, their address is: 5-1-40 Oe, Chuou Ward, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture.

We can’t wait to go back next year! Hopefully they’ll install a sound system by then. And maybe a port-o-potty…

All photos: RocketNews24