Forget Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. The new ticket that everyone wants is for the ultra-luxury Japanese cruise train, Shiki-Shima. Japan has always been on the forefront of innovations. Among other things, its rail network has been an inspiration for the rest of the world. From the lightning fast Maglev bullet trains to the luxurious sightseeing cruise train, Seven Stars, Japanese trains have left the world in awe. The newest addition to this list is the lavish and expensive cruise train, Shiki-Shima. Consisting of only 10 coaches, the train is designed to accommodate only 34 passengers. The sightseeing train has predetermined itineraries for 1, 2 and 3 days journeys along the northeast Japan. Apart from all the magnificent views from within the train, it also has stopovers along the way for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture.
The train itself is nothing short of a marvel. World-acclaimed designer Ken Okuyama is the man behind the design. Having worked for the luxury ranges for Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati, he definitely knew his way around with incorporating traditional aesthetics with modern design. The Standard suites offer sophisticated beds and bathrooms filled with latest amenities. While the Deluxe suites have luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms and the aromatic cypress wood all around.
For the observers aboard, the train offers two glass-made observation cars at both the ends. There is also a tranquil lounge, which hosts a piano bar of its own. To further enhance the experience, it is designed to give the vibe of a “Quiet Forest”. There is also a fine-dining restaurant onboard which portrays the finesse through its atmosphere and elegant meals. The menu has been created by the first-ever Michelin starred chef of Japan, Katsuhiro Nakamura. Keeping in line with the theme of exuberant travel experience, the menu changes according to the area of travel to depict the culinary culture of that particular region.
Staying true to the spirit of the experience, the train has an exclusive platform at the Tokyo’s Ueno Station. Platform 13 ½ much like the platform 13 ¾ for the Hogwarts Express. Even though the price for a single ticket can get up to $10,000, the train is entirely booked for the next year, within days after its launch. But if you really do want to take a trip, you will need more luck than money. To get a seat, you first need to fill an online application form, if you get chosen through the lucky draw, only then can you get the ticket. If that’s not magical, then we don’t know what is!