Recently, the East Japan Railway Co. introduced the Train Suite Shiki-Shima, a new 10-car train offering passengers an unrivaled, two to four-day cruise-like experience through Japan’s scenic eastern countryside. How luxurious is this 34-person train, you ask? Tickets, which require an application process, are only available via lottery and start at $3,000 dollars per person — and run as high as $10,000.
The train features 17 suites spread out across six cars, each with lofts and wooden baths. The lounge car is home to a lively piano bar, but perhaps the train’s greatest highlight (besides, of course, its own theme song by noted composer Naoki Sato), is the dining car and overall culinary experience. As the train moves across eastern Japan, the menu shifts to reflect the culinary traditions and ingredients of whatever region the train is passing through. This is accomplished by working closely with chefs along the route, serving passengers either on the train or at points of disembarkation.
At either end of the train are enclosed, glass observation cars boasting panoramic views of the gorgeous Japanese countryside. Most trips are timed to coincide with seasonal shifts and are often done in line with the area’s traditional festivals, ensuring not only a luxurious experience, but a culturally stimulating one as well. Even the train’s windows are designed to evoke the feeling of a “quiet forest.” Customers also have the option of meeting with the staff before the trip to customize the journey to their specific needs.
The high-end experience is not limited to your time on the train. The journey, which begins from Platform 13 ½ (built specifically for the train) at the Ueno Station in Tokyo, gives waiting guests access to a private lounge. Passengers receive a limousine ride to and from the airport, as well as complimentary luggage service between their homes or hotels and their rooms on the train — and did I already mention that the train has panoramic glass observation cars and its own theme song?
Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Manual’s larger Journey to Japan travel guide. Over the course of a month, our writers had the pleasure of experiencing Japan in its many forms, from high-rise bars in Tokyo to traditional tea-ceremonies in Kyoto. We hope this series of articles will not only inform, but inspire you to take your own trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
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