Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 63 (photostories)


Luxury Trains

In these days many luxury trains which have concept of ‘appreciating railway journey itself’ have been launched in Japan. These trains feature unprecedented luxurious facilities and services such as highly comfortable seats, compartment cars, deluxe meals and dedicated attendants. Among them, this section covers luxury trains which have recently made their debuts and will be coming soon.

‘Nanatsuboshi’ Seven Stars in Kyushu (JR Kyushu)

The first ‘Cruise Train’ in Japan which started operation in October 2013. It is dubbed ‘Japanese Version of Orient Express’. All of the compartments are suites. At longest, four days Kyushu round trips are arranged. Passengers can not only taste cuisine made with seasonal delicacies but also enjoy local dishes and stay at high-end ryokans (inns) with hot springs at the destinations (depends on tour programs).

Photo: The exterior of Nanatsuboshi with Mt Yufudake as a backdrop
Photo: Course description (April to June and August to November 2014)
Photo: Interior of Deluxe Suite A (1)
Photo: The bathroom attached to suite room
Photo: Interior of Deluxe Suite A (2)
Photo: Beautiful sink bowl made by Gen-emon kiln
Photo: Interior of Deluxe Suite B
Photo: Meal served on Satsuma-kiriko cut glass
Photo: Interior of the lounge car
Photo: A dish created under collaboration with the chef of Hana-Asobi restaurant
Photo: Interior of the dining car
Shimakaze (Kintetsu Railway)

Started operation in March 2013, looking toward Shikinen Sengu* at Ise Shrine in October 2013. A sightseeing limited express connecting Nagoya/Osaka and Ise-Shima. Its concept is ‘a new rail travel experience in which the ride itself is part of the fun’. The train set includes observation cars, Japanese-style/western-style private rooms as well as a two-story cafe car.
* An Ise Shrine’s ritual in which all the shrine buildings are reconstructed. It is performed at twenty years interval.

Photo: Exterior of Shimakaze sightseeing limited express
Photo: Western-style private room
Photo: Observation car with large glass window
Photo: 13 seat facility on the two-storey cafe car
Photo: Japanese-style private room
Twilight Express (JR West)

Connects Osaka and Sapporo via Seikan Tunnel (the undersea tunnel linking Honshu and Hokkaido) in 22 hours. It is a sleeper express train running about 1500km, the longest route in Japan. The train set includes suite rooms, a dining car and a salon car.

Photo: The external design of Twilight Express
Photo: Royal Suite Room at Twilight Express
Photo: Suite Room
Photo: Twilight Express dining car
Photo: Twilight Express salon car
Cruise Train (JR East)

In June 2013, the JR East released that it would produce ‘Cruise Train’ as its new ‘Flag ship train’ at the aim of launching it later than the spring of 2016. The train set will include compartments with 2-class suites, a dining as well as a lounge.

Photo: Exterior design image of JR East Cruise Train
Photo: Interior design image of JR East Cruise Train

Launched in October 2013. Its concept is ‘Traveling Restaurant’. It connects Hachinohe (Aomori) and Kuji (Iwate). Passengers can enjoy set menus made with local delicacies while appreciating coastal sceneries.

Photo: Exterior design of TOHOKU EMOTION
Photo: Interior design of TOHOKU EMOTION
GranClass (JR East)

The ‘GranClass’, the first class service was introduced to the Tohoku Shinkansen (from Tokyo to Aomori) E5 series for the first time in Japanese shinkansen’s history in March 2011. In GranClass dedicated attendants are on board and light meals, drinks as well as amenity goods are provided. The GranClass service was introduced also to E7/W7 Series for Nagano Shinkansen in March 2014 (to be extended to Kanazawa in March 2015).

Photo: Frontal view of series E5 shinkansen
Photo: Interior of Granclass