These Japanese Ultra-Luxury Trains Are Penthouses on Rails

The golden age of railways is steaming back into the modern era—in Japan at least. Since the island nation privatized its extensive rail network in the late 1980s, there has been an explosion of high-end designer trains all culminating in these gorgeous, luxurious rail cars from former Ferrari designer Ken Okuyama.

Dubbed the "cruise train" by JR East, the Japanese train company developing them, these $50 million rail cars spare their riders no luxury. Just look at those interiors, they're like rolling Park Avenue apartments replete with full length glass windows and ceilings, full baths, and split level sleeping accommodations.

The new trains are already in production and are expected to enter service in the Spring of 2017. There's no word yet on pricing yet, though given that each hyper-exclusive outing will only carry 34 passengers in total, you can be that tickets will be astronomically priced and almost entirely out of the reach of normal folks. [JR East via Spoon Tomago]

Japan's Seven-Stars Trains Are Like an Inland Luxury Cruise

Beginning in October, travelers in Japan's Kyushu region will be able to tour the countryside in a state of opulence not seen since the days of the Orient Express aboard the new Seven Stars super-luxury rail car.

Designed by Eiji Mitooka and operated by JR Kyushu, the Seven Stars—named after both the island's seven prefectures and the train's seven component cars—is the first such expedition train to shuttle passengers among Kyushu's numerous tourist attractions.


The Seven Stars will be pulled along at a top speed of 70 mph by a modified JR Freight Class DF200 3,400 HP diesel-electric hybrid locomotive. The subsequent seven coaches—five sleeping cars, a lounge car replete with piano and bar, and a dining car—can host up to 28 passengers per trip. Additionally, the caboose will feature a pair of deluxe suites and a glass wall observation area.

In all, the Seven Stars has cost over 3 billion yen to design and build. It was totally worth it. As the Asahi Shimbun explains,

The locomotive is painted in a reddish “ancient lacquer” color, which is well polished and mirrors the surrounding scenery.

Walls and the floor of the guest rooms in the third train car, which were shown to reporters, are mainly wooden. Hinoki cypress wood is used in the shower room, giving an aromatic experience.

A washbowl was made by the eminent Arita pottery master Sakaida Kakiemon XIV of Saga Prefecture, shortly before his death in June 2013. Luxurious furniture includes pieces made by craftsmen based in Okawa, Fukuoka Prefecture.

For this level of pampering, yes, you are going to pay through the nose. Booking passage on the weekly 2 day/1 night or 4 day/3 night voyage will cost upwards of $5,500 per person. And that's assuming you can even get a ticket. The train has yet to transport a single passenger but the cruises have sold out through June of next year. Ticket sales will resume again in January, which should be just long enough for you to scratch together the exorbitant ticket fees. [JR Kyushu via Luxury Launches - Wikipedia ]