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Rail Travel in Japan Just Got Glam

Venture off the beaten path but remain on the rails with Japan's most luxurious train. By VERONICA INVEEN.

Published on Jun 26, 2017


IF YOU'VE BEEN impressed by the sleek, contemporary interiors of Japan's Shinkansen bullet train, wait until you see Train Suite Shiki-Shima, the luxury locomotive to hit Japan's northeastern tracks. Operated by JR East, the 10-carriage train, which travels from Ueno Station in Tokyo through Tohoku into Hokkaido, has swapped velocity, the typical draw for Japanese train travel, for leisure. Guests can book one- to three-night sojourns and explore sites like Hirosaki Castle in Aomori and Naruko Hot Springs in Miyagi. But you may not want to leave your wagon-lit; in this case the platitude about journeys being the destination rings true with lavish interior designs by Ken Kiyokuyi Okuyama, formerly a tastemaker at General Motors and Porsche AG.

Train Suite Shiki-Shima
Courtesy of JR East.

Okuyama has taken traditional Japanese craftsmanship and married it with modern touches. Passengers will find tatami mats and shoji walls in rooms with lacquered fireplaces and marble accents. All compartments onboard are a suite or higher, but the standout dwelling is the Shiki-Shima suite. Occupying an entire carriage, the two-story space boasts two beds, a living area and an expansive bathroom featuring a bathtub made from Japanese cypress wood. If you can tear yourself out of the tub, venture to the two observatory cars, equipped with wall-to-ceiling windows, for panoramic views of eastern Japan’s diverse landscapes. Or for a more literal taste of the scenery, head to dining car where Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura and Hitoshi Iwasaki offer a menu of Japanese cuisine that changes with each passing season.; prospective passengers can apply for a spot onboard and will be chosen by lottery, with prices starting at ¥320,000 per person based on double occupancy.



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Courtesy of JR East.
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