Beginning in October, travelers in Japan's Kyushu region will be able to tour the countryside in a state of opulence not seen since the days of the Orient Express aboard the new Seven Stars super-luxury rail car.
Designed by Eiji Mitooka and operated by JR Kyushu, the Seven Stars, named after both the island's seven prefectures and the train's seven component cars, is the first such expedition train to shuttle passengers among Kyushu's numerous tourist attractions.
The Seven Stars will be pulled along at a top speed of 70 mph by a modified JR Freight Class DF200 3,400 HP diesel-electric hybrid locomotive. The subsequent seven coaches, five sleeping cars, a lounge car replete with piano and bar, and a dining car, can host up to 28 passengers per trip. Additionally, the caboose will feature a pair of deluxe suites and a glass wall observation area.
In all, the Seven Stars has cost over 3 billion yen to design and build. It was totally worth it. As the Asahi Shimbun explains,
The locomotive is painted in a reddish “ancient lacquer” colour, which is well polished and mirrors the surrounding scenery.
Walls and the floor of the guest rooms in the third train car, which were shown to reporters, are mainly wooden. Hinoki cypress wood is used in the shower room, giving an aromatic experience.
A washbowl was made by the eminent Arita pottery master Sakaida Kakiemon XIV of Saga Prefecture, shortly before his death in June 2013. Luxurious furniture includes pieces made by craftsmen based in Okawa, Fukuoka Prefecture.
For this level of pampering, yes, you are going to pay through the nose. Booking passage on the weekly 2 day/1 night or 4 day/3 night voyage will cost upwards of £3,500 per person. Assuming you can even get a ticket. The train has yet to transport a single passenger but the cruises have sold out through June of next year. Ticket sales will resume again in January, which should be just long enough for you to scratch together the exorbitant ticket fees. [JR Kyushu via Luxury Launches - Wikipedia ]