Night trains or sleeper trains are an essential part of Japan’s train services. Though these are rapidly becoming rare, they give us a throwback to the past. Most of the time, these trains look more luxurious than the ordinary ones. One of the anticipated luxury trains that will go into service on June 17, 2017 is the TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE (瑞風) sleeper train operated by JR West. Plans for the train have been announced 2 years ago and they have started accepting reservations online since December 5, 2016. Let’s find out more about it!
If you’re planning on spending a whole day watching the country speeding past outside, then a sleeper train is a great option. This is a great way to have a leisurely day without being bothered by the hustle and bustle of a crowded city. This is totally different from the standing shoulder-to-shoulder type of train in which you have to compete for the seats. It gives you the chance to immediately retire to bed as the sun sets and wake up to a beautiful snowy place.
Sleeper trains are as luxurious as hotel rooms. It provides a lot of amenities and facilities as well as freebies to make you feel at home. They are also equipped with lounge cars in which the windows are perfect for viewing the outside world. There are also several dining options for you such as lunch boxes or exquisite French cuisines.
The most popular night train in Japan used to be Cassiopeia (寝台特急 カシオペア). It was the most luxurious night train owing to its accommodation. It made its debut in 1999 and was even dubbed as a special luxury train or cruising train. It was equipped with luxury rooms that have en-suite bathrooms. The beds were very versatile as you can fold them up in the morning so they can turn into chairs and you can enjoy the spectacular view outside.
The king of all night trains before was the Twilight Express which was in operation between 1989 and 2015. It carried around 1,160,000 passengers in a span of 26 years. It is capable of accommodating 130 guests per travel destination. A wide variety of accommodations were available on the train. The Suite (スイート) was the nicest of all which was equipped with a TV, alarm clock, shower, toilet, fridge, towel, beverages, and many more just like a hotel room. The Royal (ロイヤル) accommodation was almost similar but didn’t provide the panoramic views offered in the Suite. There were twin and single twin rooms which didn’t include bathrooms or other amenities. The cheapest of the accommodations was the “Nobinobi” Carpeted Floor (のびのびカーペットカー) wherein you sleep on the floor with just pillows and a blanket. This was one of the best ways to spend less yet feel the magnificent culture of Japan.
The pride and tradition of the Twilight Express are said to live on in MIZUKAZE. This sleeper train will be launched in the spring of 2017 and will explore Western Japan on routes taking on the ancient capital of Kyoto (京都), Osaka (大阪), Shimonoseki (下関), and the Sea of Japan.
There will be five itineraries for guests to choose from. Each of the courses has one sightseeing stop per day. The Sanyo Course (山陽コース) Inbound will depart from Shimonoseki Station (下関駅) to Osaka Station (大阪駅) or Kyoto Station (京都駅). The Sanyo Course Outbound will depart from Osaka or Kyoto Station to Shimonoseki Station. This is a one night and two-day trip with one sightseeing stop per day. These trips will be via the Sanyo Line. The Sanin Course (山陰コース) will be via the Sanin Line. Guests can either travel for two days and one night, or three days and two nights.
MIZUKAZE’s 10-car train will only accommodate 30 passengers on board. The train promises that the experience will be intimate and personal. Guests are encouraged to admire the passing scenery from the outdoor viewing platforms within the observations cars. These areas offer more expansive views than the other carriages.
Travelers can relax in a lounge car and they can have an elegant dining experience in a spruce dining car. Japanese meals are going to be made by Michelin-starred chef, Yoshihiro Murata (村田吉弘). The dining car and bar are located in another part of the train. Since the train connects Kyoto, Osaka, and the port town of Shimonoseki, you may also try eating the poisonous blowfish or fugu (ふぐ). Dishes will be made on board and will contain an extravagant variety of ingredients from along the route.
MIZUKAZE’s rooms are definitely stylish and were cleverly made. It has a solitary suite which stands out among all rooms. It has a private balcony, a double bed, and an expansive bathroom with a freestanding roll-top bath. The royal twin room is the best choice for couples or traveling pairs who do not need much space. For persons on a solo journey, the royal single is the best option.
The train’s design is very sophisticated and is based on the concept of “superior quality with a touch of nostalgia.” The atmosphere is refined and relaxing which will surely make the whole train experience memorable. The power system of the train is hybrid, which means it uses diesel-generated electric power and battery-assisted motor drive.
As a sleeper train, the TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE is probably the best luxurious way to admire the views in Japan during day and night. If you’re a traveler who is after the journey rather than the destination, then this ride is for you. There will be breathtaking sceneries, exquisite haute cuisine by top-class chefs, sophisticated train cars, as well as charming sites along the route. This supreme sleeper train has been designed by leading experts in architecture, interior design, and industrial design. Their exceptional skills are highly apparent in the train’s interior and exterior designs which make up a pleasurable train journey.
What are you waiting for? Ride the TWILIGHT EXPRESS MIZUKAZE sleeper train and roll through the beautiful and unspoiled landscapes of West Japan!