While the typical itinerary for visitors to Japan is Tokyo, Kyoto, and then home, western Japan has a lot to offer. As a matter of fact, as I type this, I’m just about to leave for a few days of enjoying the beautiful sights and delicious food of Hiroshima Prefecture.
In order to maximize my time there, I’m hopping on an overnight bus. But while that’ll get me there bright and early, it’s not nearly as stylish as the new sleeper train that was just announced by Japan Railways.
As part of a push to bring more travelers to the region’s natural and cultural attractions, JR West is crafting a train to ensure that the journey really is just as enjoyable as the destination.
Leading the design process is Kazuya Ura, designer of Kyoto’s Geihinkan, which provides lodging for visiting heads of state. The exterior is being handled by award-winning train designer Fukuda Tetsuo, and famed food columnist and media personality Takeshi Kadokami is helping to develop the dining car’s menu.
The team’s stated goal is to create “a hotel that travels through the beautiful countryside of Japan,” in a way that combines luxury and relaxing comfort. With power coming from a hybrid diesel/electric motor, six of the train’s 10 cars will be reserved for passenger sleeping space. Two more will be used for the dining car and a lounge, and the cars at either end will include observation areas where those aboard can gaze out at the landscape flowing by.
Two classes of room will be available, with the smaller type, which occupies a third of a car, still looking plenty roomy.
The more spacious class, on the other hand, takes up an entire car of the train for the ultimate in Japanese rail luxury
These rooms also feature private bathrooms, plus balconies, although JR West is yet to provide any mock-ups of the latter.
▼ This bathroom genuinely has more floorspace than the first apartment I rented in Japan.
Well, I’m convinced. Time to cancel my overnight bus reservation and call up JR so I can travel in style! After all, JR says the new sleeper train will run through the Kyoto, Osaka, and Sanyo regions, and the last just happens to be where Hiroshima is.
What’s that? The new sleeper train goes into service in 2017?
Next time JR, next time.