Japan's latest super-deluxe train the Twilight Express Mizukaze departed Osaka on its maiden trip Saturday. Photo: AFP
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JR West launches new luxury train

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Japan's latest super-deluxe train left Osaka Station Saturday with a select group of passengers who paid hundreds of thousands of yen for a leisurely trip harking back to an era of Art Deco opulence and a slower pace of life.

The Twilight Express Mizukaze departed Osaka on its maiden trip with around 30 well-heeled passengers on a journey to the far reaches of Japan's main island.

The 10-coach train, which has 16 rooms, runs from Osaka to Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, offering passengers a one- or two-night tour. Passengers can get off the train and visit tourist sites

The company said there were a total of 2,022 applications during the initial round of reservations for tickets for the 368 rooms available between June 17 and September.

A one-night tour with a room for two people costs 270,000 yen. The price for a suite starts from 750,000 yen.

A couple staying in the 10-car train's top room, The Suite, paid out a combined 2.4 million yen for a two-night, three-day return trip that rolls past emerald green rice paddies, craggy coastlines and ancient shrines.

That eye-popping price tag gets you five-star hotel luxury including a marble-floored bathroom with claw-legged tub in the priciest suite, food prepared by gourmet chefs, and sumptuous lounges where you can sip cocktails as you take in the dramatic scenery through huge viewing windows.

"I'm so delighted to get a spot on this historic train," Ayaka Kobayashi, a newlywed who was travelling on the Mizukaze with her husband, told Jiji Press news agency. "I want to enjoy this special time and space."

The Mizukaze, which means "fresh wind" in Japanese, is just the latest luxury offering in train-mad Japan, which has an extensive railway network covering most of the country.

These top-end rolling hotels pay homage to once numerous sleeper cars that were overtaken by Shinkansen bullet trains that cut hours off travel times.

"Things have been reset, giving birth to a new breed" of trains, said photojournalist and train expert Kageri Kurihara after touring The Mizukaze.

"Train companies are trying to show what they can do without constraints. You may have this idea that sleeper trains are cramped and inconvenient but these railways are saying 'look what we can offer!'.

"Japanese people are very fond of trains and you'd be excited with all these superb choices," he added.

Last month, the Shiki-Shima left Tokyo's Ueno Station with passengers treated to meals whipped up by gourmet chefs.

A four-day journey in several rooms that boast a cypress wood tub cost a cool 950,000 yen per person.

Well-heeled passengers even got piano playing and a fireplace -- actually a trick created by steam and colored light -- on the trip that took them from Japan's capital to the northernmost island of Hokkaido and back again.

It cost the Shiki-Shima's operator 10 billion yen to refurbish it and build special lounges at regular stops, among other expenses. The train is booked out through to March next year.

In 2013, Kyushu Railway unveiled its "Seven Stars" service with a piano and a bar, top-end dining and luxury suites.

Japan's train operators have some offerings a notch down too, including a carriage with a foot-soaker bath.

As Tokyo gets set to host the 2020 Olympics, the record numbers of tourists visiting Japan could be another lucrative market for luxury train operators.

"This trend comes when more and more travellers from abroad are visiting Japan so the timing is good," Kurihara said.

And while the economy may not be as booming as it once was, there are still many Japanese willing to pay for a local version of the Orient Express.

Passengers on the Mizukaze and Shiki-Shima had to put their names into a lottery and hope they got picked.

"Luxury train travel is not feeling the impact of deflation or a weak economy -- and there are rich people out there," Kurihara said. "Money aside, I'd love to travel on it just once in my life."

© 2017 AFP

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.


18 Comments
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WOW How cool is this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

CCool but cha-ching

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's a train FFS! Who in their right mind would pay 25 grand for two nights in a train? Some people have more money than sense!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

You know you have too damned much money when you are paying $7000 a night for anything

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This all about attracting the overseas $ by having high class travel with panoramic views as they travel at a pace that gives time to take in the views in luxury its a one in a lifetime event for a very few not so well off but a memory never to be forgoton.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a train FFS! Who in their right mind would pay 25 grand for two nights in a train?

I would if (and likely will when) I had the disposable income to be able to afford it. Luxury travel is a great thing, and a few days in a nice suite on a train going seeing Japan would be awesome.

Some people have more money than sense!

Some people have a lot of money, I don't see what that relation has to do with sense.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

The only good parts are that relaxing zing as the first beer hits, and the gorgeous Japanese scenery. I get all of that on the 5-hour Hakata to Miyazaki trip for less than 14000 yen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nice train but my bank manager advised against the ticket purchase.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Who doesn't agree with capitalism here? They can spend their own money in whatever way they want unless it harms other's right. Can't they?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Nerakai

Who doesn't agree with capitalism here?

Do you mean here on this site, or here in Japan? Either way, I don't.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Pretty darn cool if you ask me! No way I can afford to travel on it but hey one can dream!

Also, Is it me? or does the end of that thing look like a samurai helmet?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That's one ugly train.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The Mizukaze, which means "fresh wind" in Japanese

I'd probably go with 'pure wind'.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Hmmm...someone had the money to pay for all the jobs to build, maintain, and staff the train.

Building starts with including jobs for the mining, harvest, ect for raw materials. Other jobs for conversion of those raw materials into usable base components (sheet metal, cloth, wood, plastics, glass, ect). Another set of jobs for assembly of those components into intermediate and final products (train engine, cars, beds, chairs, ect ect ect). Throughout the process, multiple steps of transportation to get materials, components, and final stage products to each of their destinations. Thousands of jobs for making one final product train.

Finally, someone else willing to pay for the extra luxury as a passenger because they have the extra disposable income instead of hoarding their own money. It's not any different from any of us taking a vacation/trip at a lower level of comfort, which the vast majority of people in the world don't have as much income as anyone posting on these boards to do any kind of traveling/vacations. A matter of the looking at bigger picture and taking into account of perspective.

Besides the train does look comfortable and relaxing on the inside. You're not going to really care about that shade of green exterior when on the inside.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If I had the money, I would not mind to spend it for the 3 day experience. It sounds really enjoyable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Japan's latest super-deluxe train" But the train color wasn't.

The Train color should be changed to Red and White or Blue and White or Green and White. The Forest Green color look like refurbished old Train in outside.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Looks like a spacecraft in the old 80's movie Dune.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would love to ride this, but damn that's expensive

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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