Japan is no stranger to luxury train travel, but the new Shiki-Shima luxury train may be its best yet.
The train made its debut on Monday, departing from Ueno station in Tokyo. It has a 34-passenger capacity with seven suites and makes one-, two- and three-night trips through Japan.
The cheapest room on the train, a regular suite, will set solo travellers back $9000 per night (¥750,000) or $6000 for a couple (¥500,000). From there, its $11,500 per night for a solo traveller in a deluxe suite, or $12,500 per night for the Shiki-Shima Suite.
But if you think these astronomical prices are likely to be hampering the train’s popularity, think again. The Shiki-Shima is already fully booked till 2018.
Even once reservations are open again, it’s not as easy as simply logging on and booking a ticket.
Would-be passengers need to fill out an online form to enter the lottery for suites on future trips. The parent company, East Japan Railway, will sporadically open these application periods, so you’ll need to wait for that before you get through to the booking phase.
All suites come with exquisite wooden panelling and working fireplaces, while the Shiki-Shima suite comes with a second-floor loft. Traditional Japanese craftsmanship is combined with modern touches for the ultimate in luxury and comfort.
The train was designed by Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, whose name is tied to Porsche, Ferrari, and Maserati. He designed every feature of the train – including the glass-enclosed panoramic observation cars.
Guests will be treated to a menu conceived by Katsuhiro Nakamura, Japan’s first Michelin-starred chef. His kaiseki-style menu will change over the duration of the trip to reflect the region the train is travelling through.
Even the uniforms of the staff on the train come with luxury flair. They were designed by Naoki Takizawa, who was the creative director of designer label Issey Mikaye from 1993 to 2007. He currently serves as the costume designer of the Empress of Japan.
So if you’ve got a spare $12,500 a night lying around – and you’re willing to run the gauntlet that is the application process – we think a suite on the Shiki-Shima is a pretty good way to spend three days.