01 Spirited Away
Frequent visitors to Japan are often drawn to this fascinating country’s interesting juxtapositions. Where else one can experience the latest modern technology and traditional arts that have existed for eons co-existing in perfect harmony? Besides the trendy streets of Tokyo, there are plenty of other discoveries to be made that lie beyond the country’s capital. Those who wish to traverse this mysterious Land of the Rising Sun and uncover its hidden gems can do so by hitching a ride with the country’s famous bullet trains operated by the East Japan Railway Company or JR-East. Earlier this year, the company revealed its latest futuristic train service, one that promises to combine luxury with maximum efficiency.
Known as the Train Suite Shiki-Shima, this champagne-coloured speedy monolith offers all of the modern trappings designed to appeal to well-heeled travellers looking to be whisked away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Capable of accommodating up to 34 passengers, this luxurious 10-carriage sleeper train has been fitted with features that make each journey a memorable one, including a five-star lounge that comes with a live piano performance; large windows for admiring the passing tranquil landscape of terraced rice fields, majestic mountains and the serene seacoast; plus a decadent dining room area where one can sample minimalist dishes from a kaiseki-style menu devised by Japan’s first-ever Michelin-starred chef, Katsuhiro Nakamura.
Those who wish to relax in complete peace and privacy can do so in the luxury speed train’s 17 luxurious suites that house up to two guests each. Designed by Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, who has worked for renowned brands like Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati, each stylish suite showcases the best of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and materials with a modern twist. Lucky guests residing in these spacious domains will be provided with their own private living area that comes complete with a traditional Japanese bathtub and charming fireplace. Those yearning for a memorable experience unlike any other can also opt for the Shiki-Shima Suite, a decedent twin-sharing room priced at a cool ¥950,000 per person.
If you have the time to spare, a most memorable maiden voyage would be to sign up for the 4D/3N package, a spirited excursion that traverses all the way to Hokkaido’s famous hot spring town of Noboribetsu. This unforgettable trip, which begins and ends at the Ueno station which was specially built in Tokyo for this service, offers plenty of opportunities to visit ancient shrines and temples, working farms and artisanal ateliers located in Nikko, Hakodate, Aomori, Tsuruoka and Tsubame. For now, the Train Suite Shiki-shima has reportedly been booked solid till May 2018. However, prospective passengers can try their luck by submitting their applications online.