Luxury sleeper trains are now getting more and more popular in Japan. Many people are choosing this option to spend a leisurely day of traveling. On May 1, 2017, JR East’s luxury sleeper train, Train Suite Shiki-shima (TRAIN SUITE 四季島), made its debut. Unlike any other sleeper trains, it promises to provide passengers a cruise ship-like experience through its high-grade space which is unseen in existing railway journeys. Let’s see how this can help establish a railway of a new era!
Sleeper trains used to be popular in Japan, however, its number has been decreasing in the past few years. As of now, only the luxury sleeper trains have been gaining popularity. Some people choose this in order to have an ultimate travel experience. It is also a romantic way for couples to spend time together.
Luxury trains have several advantages over airplanes as they give passengers a chance to see the local environment and the myriad of places they are traveling to. Other things that make luxury trains popular are its ample spaces, restaurants, cafes, and bars located inside. The sleeping area is also comfortable which most of the time comes with a bathroom. It recreates an ambiance similar to that of a hotel.
One of the most popular sleeper trains in Japan is Seven Stars (ななつ星), which has been running in Kyushu (九州) since 2013. It provides a cruise ship-like experience to its guests through its deluxe suites, mini kitchen, piano, bar counter, crew room, shower rooms, and toilets.
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Train Suite Shiki-shima, JR East’s new luxury sleeper train, debuted on May 1, 2017. According to the company’s president, the train is meant to provide a beautiful journey in a high-grade space with lavish amenities.
The train consists of 17 rooms which can accommodate a total of 34 people. Two of these have larger spaces, while the remaining 15 rooms are smaller. The gold train has been designed by Ken Kiyoyuki Okuma (奥山清行). You can see the traditional craftsmanship in the whole place – from the tatami (畳) mats to the traditional furnishing used. Bathtubs are made of cypress which makes bathing a fragrant experience.
ENG We present a new column where we will tell our readers about other types of transport (interesting projects, speed models): motorcycles, airplanes (business and sport jets), cars (sport cars). For example, today we want to tell about the project «Train Suite Shiki-shima» – a new luxury train in Japan. East Japan Railway sent the state-of-the-art Train Suite Shiki-shima to its first voyage, tickets for which have been booked until March 2018. We will explain why it is so popular. Train Suite Shiki-shima is called a "boutique hotel on wheels". It is designed for only 34 passengers and consists of ten wagons, where are placed 17 wagons coupe, restaurant and lounge. In two head wagons there are observation platforms with panoramic windows. According to The Japan Times, 5 billion yen were invested in the construction of the train, which is equivalent to $ 44.5 million. Train Suite Shiki-shima follows three tourist routes starting in Tokyo and running through various prefectures of the country. The interiors of the train were developed by the Japanese Ken Okuyama, who collaborated with such automobile brands as Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati. Decorating the cars, he combined elements of traditional Japanese design with art deco and futurism, and also emphasized on natural motifs: for example, the floor of observation wagons is covered with a green plush resembling grass. The restaurant's menu was created by Katsuhiro Nakamura, the first Japanese chef who received the Michelin star. Its dishes will reflect the culinary traditions of those regions of Japan, on which the train will proceed. The Train Suite Shiki-shima has a two-level compartment: on the first floor there is a bedroom, and on the second floor there is a small living room, made in Japanese style. This is the most expensive compartment in the train: a trip in it can cost up to $ 10 thousand per person depending on the route and season. The cost of traveling in an ordinary compartment, meanwhile, starts from 500 thousand yen (about $ 4,450) per person.
The food on the train is definitely excellent and based on the different regions the train travels through. They are served with high-quality cutlery.
As of the moment, the train is offering a four-day trip from May to November on the trains covering Hokkaido (北海道) and other areas of northeastern Japan, as well as a two-day trip around the areas in Yamanashi (山梨), Nagano (長野), and Fukushima (福島). The rooms can be shared by two people with a fee ranging from 4,500 USD to 6,300 USD per person.
Unfortunately, the application for Train Suite Shiki-shima’s services through March 2018 has already been closed. If you’d want to plan in advance for your luxury sleeper train experience, might as well check their website from time to time to see when applications will be open again. For more information on the application, you can check this page.
Why not experience JR East’s newest luxury sleeper train on your next travel? It will give you a chance to enjoy the rich view and coastal scenery of the places you travel to!