JR is a familiar acronym to Japan travelers who board city trains and the bullet-speed Shinkansen. It stands for Japan Railways, the group that operates main transportation modes in the country. Tourists who want a more cost-efficient trip often get a multi-transport pass marked with the JR logo.
Now JR is famous for something else. One of its seven companies, JR East, launched the Shiki-shimatrain for which savings is a lost concept. The ticket for a four-day voyage is valued at 1,425,000 yen (around P638,373). Just days after the launch early this month, tickets sold out until March 2018.
The train was designed by Ken Okuyama, whose industrial projects include the cutting-edge cars Ferrari F60 Enzo and kode9 Spyder. The 17-suite Shiki-shima has the features of a stylish space capsule: Think Kubrick's Space Odyssey meets a Japanese boutique hotel.
The dining car features a marvelous cubic ceiling and champagne lights. Here in this sunlit and cozy area passengers can enjoy dishes by Katsuhiro Nakamura, the first Japanese to earn a Michelin star.
CNN reports that the most expensive suite is split-level and beats a typical Tokyo apartment in size. It also has a living room, a tub, and two beds.
As tempting as it might be to stay inside the train, passengers also do some sightseeing. The next four-day trip in 2018 includes stops at Nikko, Hakodate, Aomori, and Tsubame.
Interested? Before you can buy a ticket to Shiki-shima, you must fill out an application form. It doesn’t end there. A lottery will determine whether you get a spot.
This year’s maiden voyage accepted one out 76 people, according to Japanese news service NHK World.
Takarakuji gaataru to ii desu ne. That's Japanese for "may your number be drawn."