Kyushu Railway Co (JR Kyushu) showed off its brand new Nanatsuboshi (Seven Stars) luxury sleeper cruise train which is the first of its kind in Japan. Operations are set to begin by October 15, but journalists got to have a sneak peek into one of the five passenger cars that will be taking people around the tourist spots in the Kyushu region, including Yufuin in Oita Prefecture, Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture and Nagasaki.
However, there was a slight glitch as the train suddenly stopped on its test run at the Orio Station in Kita-kyushu on the Kagoshima Line. The train was then moved to the platform so that operations of the other trains would not be disrupted. They are still looking into why the train malfunctioned, but the interior work for the other cars will continue until it’s fully operational by October 15.
The locomotive has a reddish “ancient lacquer” color in order to match the surrounding scenery, while the walls and floor of the guest rooms are made from wood, to give it an even more natural but luxurious feel. The shower room is made from Hinoki cypress wood which gives off a an aromatic smell when the guests take a bath. The washbowl was made by Arita pottery master Sakaida Kakiemon XIV of Saga Prefecture before he died in June of this year. The furniture are made by craftsmen from Okawa, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Given all this, you would of course expect an expensive train ticket. Each person in a double occupancy would have to cough up 550,000 yen (approx. $5,500). But that hasn’t stopped reservations from coming in and they have received 10 times more than what is actually available. In fact, they are already fully booked until June 2014 and will only accept reservations for trips from July to September 2014 by January 2013. East Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co. are also planning on launching services similar to the Seven Stars, which cost 3 billion yen ($30.1 million) to create, almost equivalent to the building of a Shinkansen bullet train.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]