Luxury Train Travel like in the Good Old Days

Last week, Japanese industrial designer Ken Okuyama, perhaps best known for designing the Ferrari Enzo, unveiled the latest in luxury train travel: the Train Suite Shikishima from JR East.

It has been almost 3 years since the announcement that JR East was investing ¥5 billion (≈ €42 million) to create a luxury sleeper train. The sleeper train is made of 10 custom designed cars including two glass walled observatory cars, a shared lounge car, a dining car, and six private suite cars. But with a maximum capacity of 34 passengers, the exclusive cars come at a price. There is a high end, two floor suite with a private onsen bath and heated kotatsu to keep the guests warm as they travel through the landscape. Here, a 3-night, 4-day journey through Japan costs ¥950,000 (≈ €8000) per person. But rooms are already booked for 6 months in advance.

The exclusive Train Suite Shikishima is set to launch this May. The luxury train will snake its way through the east of the country to take in the region’s unique culture, crafts and gastronomy. Each season the sleeper train will explore a different route taking in highlights such as Naruko’s hot springs and Hirosaki castle.

The white-and-wood lounge car features sculptural walls meant to resemble trees in a forest. The dining car feels slightly retro with geometric paneling and crisp white table linens. The decor of the rooms was inspired by traditional Japanese architecture, with warm wood paneling, washi paper, and clean, rectangular details. The two-story, ultra-fancy Deluxe Suite has its own private onsen bath and heated kotatsu seating area. The suites are lined with floor-to-ceiling windows ensuring travellers have a comfortable vantage point in which to take in magnificent scenery.