JAPAN: East Japan Railway welcomed the first passengers aboard the Train Suite Shiki-Shima (Island of Four Seasons) luxury cruise train for a tour of eastern and northern Japan starting on May 1.

Passengers board the champagne-liveried 10-car train via the lounge car where the windows are designed to resemble trees in a forest. Sleeping accommodation is provided in six cars, five of which are occupied by three two-berth rooms with showers. The sixth car offers two deluxe rooms, one of which is the ‘Shiki-Shima suite’ on two levels; this includes a sunken kotatsu (heated table) and a bath made of Japanese cypress. An observation car at each end and a restaurant car complete the formation.

Fares range from ¥320 000 per person for a two-day trip to ¥1·15m for a three-day journey in the Shiki-Shima suite. With only 34 berths available, the train is fully booked for the immediate future, and applications for trips between December 2017 and March 2018 have been closed. JR East says that prospective passengers will be chosen by lottery if applications exceed available capacity.