In October, Japan reopened its borders to foreign tourists, reinstating visa-free entry after nearly three years of pandemic restrictions. The country is full of dreamy potential vacations, from immersive food tours of the countryside to biking expeditions to craft breweries. However, one of the coolest, time-honoured ways to experience Japan remains by train. And one train, in particular, stands out above all the rest as the pinnacle of luxury. The elegant, seven-car Seven Stars train travels through Japan’s island of Kyushu, stopping in each of its prefectures.

It’s a beautiful way to experience the landscape of Kyushu, but the amenities on board are enough to captivate passengers’ attention.

Japan’s Seven Stars train is the literal image of luxury

Japan Seven Stars train
Image: Courtesy of Seven Stars

“Seven Stars in Kyushu” launched in 2013 to offer scenic tours around Kyushu, with excursions to experience the island’s nature, food, hot springs, history, and culture. The journey begins at Hakata Station, where passengers can relax in an exclusive lounge. This sense of exclusivity continues on the train, which has just ten suites (outfitted with Japanese furniture and massive picture windows) and a few gorgeous places to eat and drink.

Japan luxury train
Image: Courtesy of Seven Stars

The lavish train also boasts gold-embellished windows and viewing seats in the first and seventh cars. But what is perhaps its greatest feature is its traditional ryurei-style tea room, which “is decorated with tatami mats like a teahouse,” reads the train’s website.

There’s also an elegant salon car with self-service drinks and a saloon car with those aforementioned picture windows. “Sip drinks at the bar and mingle with fellow passengers in the modern Japanese atmosphere as the pleasant sound of the live piano performance tinkles in the background,” the site adds. “Enjoy the starry sky that peers in from the panoramic windows with a glass of bliss in your hand and relax on the sofas to take in the stunning views that pass by.”

train food
Image: Courtesy of Seven Stars

The train travels along a 3,000-kilometer route through Kyushu, with different journeys depending on guests’ interests. Though any food-centric traveller should look into its three-night, four-day trip devoted entirely to Kyushu’s cuisine, with stand-out meals in different prefectures. On day three, for example, the journey stops at the city of Miyazaki for a memorable bento experience using local Kirishima cedar, “which have been carefully collected at the expert judgment of previous generations are dried naturally for many years before use … Dishes made from local ingredients are packed in bento boxes made of ‘wood with vital energy.’”

On day four, breakfast is at Murezuru Shuzo, featuring “‘watadamai’ (rice for presentation to the Imperial Family) cooked in the oven of the cellar of the Murezuru Shuzo brewery, and ‘Torijiru’ chicken soup.”

Japan Seven stars train
Image: Courtesy of Seven Stars

The Seven Stars journeys sell out quickly, and applications for spring to fall trips in 2023 have already been closed. To get in on the adventure next time, stay peeled to its website.

This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com

(Hero and featured image: Courtesy of Seven Stars)

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