The latest addition to Japan Rail East’s trains, the ultra luxurious Shiki Shima just returned from it’s maiden trip last week!
The Shiki Shima (lit. “Four Season Island” – side note – the Japanese are very proud of the fact that there are four distinct seasons in Japan. For some reason, they seem to think that that is not common in the rest of the world. I’m not sure why…..), departing from platform 13 1/2 at Ueno Station in Tokyo, the Shiki Shima consists of a dining car, lounge car, two observatory cars and six sleeper cars. Designed by Okuyama Ken (known for his work with Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati), the train is futuristic in design, but at the same time maintains truly traditional Japanese feel.
Now, the cars!!
The Japanese are extremely proud of the local cuisine that is special to their part of Japan, so the dining car’s menu, designed by Michelin starred chef, Nakamura Katsuhiro, is made to reflect the local seasonal fare of the region that the train is passing through.
The lounge car, designed to look like a forest on the inside boasts a piano bar, with a real live pianist and lots of huge windows.
The train also has it’s own signature tune – “Train Suite”.
The observation cars at either end of the train are made with floor to ceiling windows and plenty of seats for passengers to watch the scenery go by.
Finally the sleeping cars. There are three kinds of suites available – two signature deluxe suites, and fifteen standard and deluxe suites. The rooms feature private bathrooms, showers and extra wide windows.
And the signature suites wouldn’t be complete without a fire place and a tatami mat room.
The trips are between three and four days, and take passengers from Tokyo, up through the Tohoku (north east) region, all the way to southern Hokkaido before returning along the coast of the Japan Sea and ending back at Ueno Station, Tokyo.
The only downside is that all this doesn’t come without a price – depending on what suite you are lucky enough to book, it costs between $2,500 and $10,000 per person. To book a trip, you have to put your name in a lottery and hope it is chosen. As for now, the trips are all completely booked through March 2018.