Riding the world’s most luxurious train in Japan

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While Japan’s bullet trains may be famed for their speed, there is a train in Japan that has garnered a more exclusive reputation: the Cruise Train Seven Stars. Demand is often so high for a trip on this luxury sleeper train – and space so limited – that prospective passengers often have to enter a lottery for tickets. Upon boarding the Seven Stars at the busy Hakata Station in the city of Fukuoka, passengers step into another world. The train’s warm wooden interiors and classic design elements evoke another time. For over twenty years Karaike had dreamed of making this “Cruise Train” a reality. On board the Seven Stars, CNN Style met its’ 70-year-old designer, Eiji Mitooka, to learn more about what makes the experience on this sleeper train so unique.

“Everything is unique and custom-made for the train. From the seats, to the lighting, to the furniture, our theme was to mix elements like a mandala, drawing inspiration from the East and West, to come up with something we’ve never seen. Our job is to create the best “stage”. For this stage, there are large and small props, lighting, music and food.

As the crew undertakes their roles, passengers start feeling as if they’re the main characters of a play,” he told CNN Style. Discussing why large windows were an essential part of the design, he said: “I always get a special feeling during the journey as the scenery outside changes. Unlike a hotel, the views outside a train constantly change. There are mountains, rivers and oceans, even different climates. All the windows have frames like a painting. It’s as if you’re watching a film. It’s the ultimate luxury.” He said time feels precious on this train. “I’m always thinking about design that produces a deeply emotional experience. On the train, people have time to be themselves. They have time to think about what means most in life.”


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