Rail luxury, complete with bathtubs and sky views

The East Japan Railway Co has launched a new luxury sleeper train, which has glass ceilings and walls built into two observatory coaches for passengers to watch the passing scenery. The train made its maiden voyage on Monday.
The East Japan Railway Co has launched a new luxury sleeper train, which has glass ceilings and walls built into two observatory coaches for passengers to watch the passing scenery. The train made its maiden voyage on Monday.PHOTO: JR EAST

TOKYO • A Japanese railway company has launched a new luxury sleeper train with sky views, bathtubs and dark wood interiors, joining the race for well-heeled tourists.

The top suite on the 10-car "Train Suite Shiki-shima" sells for US$10,000 (S$14,000) per person, while the cheapest ticket is US$2,860 for a four-day trip from Tokyo to Hokkaido, said the East Japan Railway Co.

The train, which had 33 passengers on its maiden voyage from Tokyo on Monday, features traditional tatami straw mats and bathtubs made from hiroki cypress wood in its executive suites.

Glass ceilings and walls are built into two observatory coaches at the front and rear of the train for passengers to watch the passing scenery. The journey includes stops in the north-east Tohoku region, which was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

"We also want to empower the disaster-hit northern Japan for their recovery effort through the operation of Shiki-shima," East Japan Railway chief executive Tetsuro Tomita said at the launch.

The train is fully booked until March next year.

Demand for high-end train travel is growing in Japan, with several railway companies introducing new services. Kyushu Railway launched its Seven Star luxury coach four years ago and JR West is set to launch its Twilight Express Mizukaze in June.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Rail luxury, complete with bathtubs and sky views'. Print Edition | Subscribe