In a country known for its high-speed trains, the Shiki-Shima has recently taken to the tracks offering a different, very upmarket service, with suites, gourmet dining and a chic piano bar... Despite a hefty price-tag (not far off 8,000 euros per person in this case), the idea of a train built for comfort, not for speed, is proving to be popular.
With its Michelin-starred chefs, luxurious bathrooms and elegantly-designed piano-bar, the Shiki-Shima can hold its own with the best hotels in the world. Not bad, when you consider that it is actually a train.
Japan has always been famous for its Shinkansen, the bullet trains that cross the archipelago at top speed, but now the preference on the tracks is to take one’s time and enjoy the journey, rather than focusing on the destination. For 950,000 yen (7,760 euros) per person, you can reserve a luxury suite in a sleeping car on board the Shiki-Shima, a newly-launched high-class, as opposed to high-speed, train. The price-tag makes it the most expensive train in the world, but it is doubtless also the most luxurious.
From Tokyo to the island of Hokkaido
The train will leave Tokyo and spend four days and three nights travelling in a long loop via the island of Hokkaido (in the north). The champagne-coloured Shiki-Shima, which means "Isle of the four seasons", has eight carriages, some of them fitted with impressive bay windows which offer the traveller spectacular views of the countryside in the north of Japan.
After a dinner prepared by renowned chefs, those on board can enjoy a drink in the relaxed atmosphere of the piano-bar, bathed in the warm light of an artificial fireplace. The Shiki-Shima recently took its maiden voyage from the Japanese capital with 33 passengers on board, as reported by the East Japan Railway company.
Fully booked until March 2018
Despite the eye-watering cost of a ticket, the company is proud to announce that the Shiki-Shima is fully booked until March 2018. It is not the first train to hit the luxury sector in Japan. The Kyushu Railway, on the rural island of the same name in the south of the archipelago, introduced the "Nanatsuboshi" (or "Seven stars") in 2013 – a train with seven carriages and 14 wood-panelled suites fitted with king-size beds, an office, separate bathroom and toilets with heated seats.
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