Japan Today

Beautiful new luxury train dazzles with gold leaf and lacquer interior

By Casey Baseel

For the past few decades, getting around Japan has been a snap using the extremely efficient rail network that crisscrosses the country. Even better, in just a few years, not only will you be able to go anywhere on the main island of Honshu by train, but you’ll be able to do it in style, thanks to luxurious new trains servicing the Chugoku, Kanto, and Tohoku regions.

Hokuriku, the part of Japan running along the central northern coast of Honshu, isn’t about to be left out though, and its upcoming train may be the most opulent of all, with an interior decorated with traditional lacquer and gold leaf.

Compared to the other new trains listed above, Hokuriku’s initially seems like a much more modest travel option. The Tohoku train is an ultra-fast Shinkansen model, and Kanto’s and Chugoku’s are sleeper trains. In contrast, the new train for the Hokuriku area, which will run between Kanazawa and the Wakura Onsen hot spring resort in Ishikawa Prefecture, is neither, plus only two cars long with seats for just 52 passengers.

The small scale doesn’t mean any less effort is going into the aesthetics, though, as revealed by concept renderings recently released by Japan railways.

The design cues for the project are “beauty,” and “Japanese tradition,” and plenty of both are apparent in this early artwork. Ever since gold was discovered in the surrounding area centuries ago, Kanazawa has been associated with the precious metal, and the city remains Japan’s most famous producer of gold leaf handicrafts. Lacquerware from the town of Wajima, also located in Ishikawa, is similarly prized, and both elements are prominently featured in the interior of the train’s carriages.

The exterior also gives a nod to Hokuriku’s traditional culture, with imagery evocative of the patterns that grace Ishikawa’s Kaga-Yuzen kimono.

Inside, travelers can snack on Japanese-style desserts or sample a selection of Hokuriku sake. There’s even a stage for folk music performances in one car, which is then relayed by monitor to passengers riding in the other.

Hokuriku’s snazzy new train has its first run tentatively scheduled for October of 2015.

Sources: Jin, JR

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- West Japan’s new sleeper train looks more luxurious than most hotels -- JR unveils amazing luxury train that we’d like to live in like high-class hobos -- The many twists, turns and trapdoors of Kanazawa’s incredible Ninja Temple

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Just exactly how and who paid for this opulence? Money better spent elsewhere?

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

Will they have "cleaning crews" as efficient - and "speedy" - as the Shinkansen crews ? With all that carpeting, it'll probably take a lot longer to get it really clean...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Beautiful, but this kind of luxury train makes me think of a century ago. At today's pace, will many people want to savor a train ride? Just get me there, please.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

One of the first tangible changes that the aging society is bringing. They're going to start changing the landscape soon.

Reminds me of the bateaux mouches in Paris. This is from their web site:

For more than 60 years, the Compagnie des Bateaux-Mouches has told a love story to generations of passengers, those who are curious, poets, those who are romantic or in love...

Nothing wrong with a little love and opulence! Enjoy if you have the time and money.

9 ( +9 / -0 )


Yep. Surely trains have to be the most romantic form of transport there is.

And as an Englishman, I'm still amazed after over twenty years, at the Japanese rail system. The way that they announce a train will arrive "one minute late" cracks me up. In England, anything less than ten minutes late is recorded officially as " on time".

11 ( +11 / -0 )

This train is designed for older Japanese who want to a more luxurious experience going Wakura Onsen (one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan) from Kanazawa, which will soon be the west end of the Hokuriku Shinkansen when that opens March 2015. These luxury trains have proven to be quite popular with many Japanese, to say the least.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Just exactly how and who paid for this opulence? Money better spent elsewhere?

Silly by name, silly by nature. JR West have created this from a pair of 30+ year old railcars (KiHa 47 Class), hardly money squandered.

There are many such Joyful Trains in Japan, and this no doubt will be a popular and welcome addition.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@mrsynik - all that refurbishing HAD to be paid for.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

all that refurbishing HAD to be paid for.

If it was paid for by a private company (JR West), is there a problem? If it was paid for by a consortium of private companies (Wakura Onsen owners), is there a problem? If it was paid for by the town of Wakura, is there a problem? If it brings in high-paying customers from Kanazawa to Wakura Onsen, is there a problem?

The main train to that area of the world stops before it gets to Wakura Onsen. People who want to continue on to Wakura onsen have to catch a bus or taxi and pay a bit more. If this train supplies alcohol and ambiance and pulls in some older, Richer, customers, it could be worth it, no? If it doesn't, then, well, wasted somebody's money.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


Yep. Surely trains have to be the most romantic form of transport there is.

Indeed! Brings back a few very good memories.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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