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* New luxury train boasts a piano bar and Michelin restaurant
* Fares range between $3,000 and $10,000
* Tickets are sold out until March 2018
Japan’s newest long distance train is more like five-star hotel. The East Japan Railway Company’s Shiki-Shima started running this week. It has 10 cars that hold 17 grandiose suites, some of which even have cypress bathtubs and lofts. There is also a piano bar, as well as two glass-walled observatory cars and a Michelin-accredited restaurant.
Space is limited, as the train only holds 34 passengers who pay between $3,000 and $10,000 for a round-trip ticket. Despite the high prices, rides aboard the Shiki-Shima are sold out until March 2018. The company had to conduct a lottery to determine who could even get tickets.
This is Japan’s second luxury cruise train. The first was launched in 2013 by the Kyushu Railway Company, which operates in the southwest region of the country. A third train operated by the West Japan Railway Company will open next month with routes from Kyoto and Osaka.
The new luxury trains are a stark contrast to Japan’s existing commuter trains, which travel up to 200 mph with passengers tightly crammed aboard. The luxury trains move at a relaxed 70 mph and allow passengers to stretch out and relax. That’s quite important in Japan’s hectic culture, where a 2015 government survey found that 40 percent of the population sleeps less than six hours each night.