Japan is a pretty expensive country to live in and visit, but this isn’t deterring citizens and tourists from booking a train ride aboard the Suite Shiki-Shima (Island of Four Seasons), East Japan Railway’s 34-passenger, 17-suite luxury train. Despite the astronomically-priced tickets for one-, two- or three-night round trips, it’s been booked steadily through March 2018.
So what exactly do we get onboard? For starters, certain suites feature working fireplaces, wood baths or second-floor lofts; two glass-walled observatory cars treat passengers to gorgeous landscape views, and the dining room car serves kaiseki-style menus by Japan’s first Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura. The train rolls past mountains, coasts and forests, punctuated with stops at ancient temples, vineyards, hot springs and artisanal ateliers, depending on the season.
The Shiki-Shima chugs along at 70mph — a mere one-third of Japan’s bullet train speeds. But for the price of a ticket — which is anywhere between $3000 to $10,000 — it’s in the passengers’ interest to take it slow and milk the ride for all its worth.