Ever wondered how difficult it must be for luxury industries across Japan to satisfy a population that already has everything? The best gadgets, top-notch hotels, delicious food and an extraordinary lifestyle sure isn’t enough to sum it up. Now, there is another attraction that you can add to your travel itinerary. Unwind aboard the Train Suite Shiki-shima and the Twilight Express Mizukaze- two newly launched luxury trains- for an experience unlike any other. By Sujitha Sundaram
Japan is re-defining luxury travel with the launch of two new slow trains: the Train Suite Shiki-shima by East Japan Railway (JR East) and the Twilight Express Mizukaze by West Japan Railway (JR West), later in June. With a champagne-gold coloured exterior and wood, Japanese lacquer and washi paper furnishings, these are 10-car trains accommodating 34 passengers every journey. Here are some pointers about the journeys:
- Starting at Tokyo’s terminal, Ueno, its unique itineraries include a journey on a special festival dates or occasion through two different routes. The news of its launch became so wide-spread, that not much later, the trips on both these trains were booked out till March 2018!
- Passengers who have luckily been able to get a ticket can enjoy the beautiful East Japan landscape without any obstructions from the two observatory cars that have glass walls and ceilings.
- The rooms on board vary from suites to the most luxurious offering- a Deluxe Suite- that occupies an entire car and is two-storied.
- Walk into the cabin and you’ll find that the interiors are a mix of Japanese traditional art with a futuristic twist. The dining car serves delectable gourmet delicacies of the many regions that the train passes through, prepared by celebrated chef, Katsuhiro Nakamura. In doing so, you get to experience Japan through your taste buds.
- JR West is looking to launch their luxury train, the Twilight Express Mizukaze, with five routes around Kyoto/Osaka. On each of these routes, the train will not only take a tour, but also stop at a scenic spot where you can disembark. The train offers gourmet Japanese cuisine on board that is curated by Chef Yoshihiro Murata and chef Hajime Yoneda. Breathe in West Japan’s culture with scenic sightseeing spots and relax with a drink in the Lounge car.
Departs from: Ueno Station, one of Tokyo’s key terminals
Places it visits: Northeast Japan’s Tohoku region and the northernmost island of Hokkaido.
Sightseeing stops: At Nikko Station, in Tochigi Prefecture, and Hakodate Station in Hokkaido.
Journeys offered: Spring – Autumn- 4D/3N covering Hokkaido and parts of northeastern Japan; 2D/1N covering Yamanashi, Nagano and Fukushima; and ‘Seasons for East’- 3D/2N covering Akita Prefecture and Sanriku Area.
Speed: 110 kph (68 mph)
Departs from: Kyoto/Osaka (outbound journey and round trip) and Shimonoseki station (inbound journey)
Places it visits: Sea of Japan and Mount Daisen
Sightseeing spots: At Okayama station, Okayama Korakuen, and Uradome Coast at Higashihama Station.
Journeys offered: The train offers two routes; Sanyo and Sanin. Each route has an outbound and inbound option. These are all 2D/1N journeys. The round trip travels both routes and is for 3D/2N.
Speed: 110kph (68 mph)
T+L Tip: Choose the Sanyo Inbound course where you stop at Onomichi Station to visit the Seto Inland Sea. Here, you can embark on an exclusive luxury cruise and treat yourself to a scintillating spa treatment at the Bella Vista Spa and Marina resort.