Despite costing thousands of dollars, tickets for the East Japan Railway Company’s luxury new sleeper train, Train Suite Shiki-Shima, have continued to sell out since the first journey in May 2017. The earliest tickets available are Fall 2018, but simply having the means will not get you a spot as the company employs an application process and lottery to select interested travelers. (Tickets start at $3,000 per person for a four-day journey, but to travel in absolute luxury in the Japanese train, you’ll want to book the $10,000 per person suite.)
The train’s futuristic design, by former GM and Porsche designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, befits the technologically advanced reputation of Japan. Windows are styled like geometric objects, which invoke a “quiet forest,” and at both the front and the back of the train guests can observe the countryside passing by within “grass”-floored glass-enclosed compartments.
The lounge area hosts a piano and a steam-operated fireplace. There are 17 sleeper suites – with onboard power showers (rare for train travel) – which offer Kimono-style gowns, and, in the more expensive suites, Swarovski binoculars. Some suites are split-level, incorporating lofts, or may include a traditional Japanese wooden bath made from Hiroki Cypress wood.
The steep price comes with perks. As one of only 34 passengers, you will never have to fight over space or views. Receive a limousine ride and complimentary luggage service, as well as a pre-travel consultation to ensure the trip is customized to your needs.
A menu designed by Katsuhiro Nakamura, a Michelin-star holder, highlights high-end Japanese cuisine inspired by the region through which the train travels. To ensure authenticity, accomplished chefs who work along the route will serve passengers their meals either on the train or host them for meals at their restaurants.
JR East offers four itineraries on the Japanese Train Suite Shiki-Shima, based on the time of year, all traveling through the north of the country. From spring to autumn, book either a 4-day/3-night trip or a 2-day/1-night trip. In winter, take a 3-day/2-night journey. Alternatively, the line offers three seasonal trips, each 3-days/2-nights, titled “Seasons of East Japan.” In 2017, these special trips were built around a New Year’s journey, a late-summer cultural festival, and an early spring trip to see the age-old Doll Festival.
For more information on JR East’s Train Suite Shiki-Shima or to submit your application for a journey, click here.
Featured image courtesy of Ten-nen Gas via Wikimedia Commons.