A Luxury Journey Through Japan’s Countryside

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For a time, luxury trains seemed to be a thing of the past. Millions of passengers travel to work each day by commuter rail, and longer trips in America and Europe are still commonplace enough, but taking a train for its own sake lost its popularity once commercial flight became affordable. The nostalgic appeal and leisurely pace of upscale train travel have found renewed favor among luxury travelers in recent years, however. Thanks to a recent Independent article praising Japan’s first luxury sleeper train, the Seven Stars line in Kyushu, this travel mode will likely be in even greater demand this year.

Called a “luxurious mini-cruise on rails” by the Independent’s Leslie Woit, the Seven Stars train isn’t your average Amtrak trip. The line is named for the seven prefectures of Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, which is a far cry from the urban density of its best-known and largest island, Honshu. Visitors can take their pick of either a four-day, three-night trip, which circles around the entire island, or a briefer trip of only two days and one night, which sticks to Kyushu’s northern region.

Whichever package travelers choose, their trip will be a breathtaking one that hearkens back to the Golden Age of train travel. Nowhere is the sumptuous quality of this journey more apparent than in its deluxe suite, which includes a full bathroom (with shower), a writing desk, two beds, a sitting room outfitted with plush couches and floor-to-ceiling picture window for the ultimate viewing experience of the Japanese countryside (including spectacular sunsets over the East China Sea). Travelers will also enjoy both Japanese and French cuisine and free wine in the dining car, which, like the rest of the train, boasts luxurious interiors with cherry walls and parquet floors. By no means are passengers confined to the train, however. Seven Stars makes frequent stops to must-site Kyushu sites like the Yufuin hot springs, Kumamoto Castle and the Kakiemon porcelain works in Arita.

The only downside to the Seven Stars is the limited availability of tickets on the line, which takes only thirty passengers at the time. But if you can’t nab them, there are plenty of other rail travel options in Japan. Many travelers opt for regional travel passes (similar to those you might find in Europe, for example). And if you still crave a five-star travel experience, call our global luxury chauffeur service.

Photo: flickr

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