Editor’s Note: The article was originally published in July 2014.
Yamagata-born Ken Okuyama designed JR East's new Cruise Train, due to debut in 2017
Okuyama has designed for Porshe and Pininfarina -- the company that designs Ferrari and Maserati
Cruise Train to have 10 carriages that hold maximum of 34 passengers
What happens when you ask a super-car designer to create a super luxurious train? Magic, judging by the above images released by Japanese rail company JR East.
Yamagata-born Ken Okuyama, well-known in automobile design circles, was brought in to style the company’s super slick new Cruise Train, due to start chugging down the tracks in spring 2017.
Holding a maximum of 34 passengers, the Cruise Train will have 10 carriages made up of five suites, one deluxe suite, two glass-walled observation cars, a dining car and lounge.
Okuyama has worked as a chief designer for General Motors, a senior designer for Porsche AG and design director for Pininfarina, the company behind the Ferrari Enzo and Maserati Quattroporte.
According to his company, Ken Okuyama Design, he wanted to create a train that would allow passengers “to appreciate the flow of the time and space,” while enjoying Japan’s landscapes and culture throughout the journey.
One of the more unique features is the observation carriage at the front of the train, which allows passengers to see onto the tracks ahead.
The other observation car is at the end of the train.
JR Rail says the train will be fitted with furniture that conveys the nobility of traditional Japanese culture. The Lounge, for instance, is wrapped in graceful curves and features decor inspired by trees.
All suites will have a private bathroom with a shower and toilet, but the top sleeping space is the split level deluxe suite, which sleeps four. On the bottom are two double beds, on the top a traditional Japanese dining area, with seats on the floor.
The train will be able to run on both electric and nonelectric rails.
Can’t wait till 2017?
JR East’s upcoming Cruise Train won’t be the first Japanese train to take the super-luxury route.
JR Kyushu’s Seven Stars train, which features Japanese and Western design elements, hit the tracks in the fall of 2013.
This one only travels through the island of Kyushu and has 14 luxury guest rooms, two deluxe suites, three presidential suites, a lounge car, dining car and bar.
Guests can choose either the two- or three-night experience.
The name “Seven Stars” represents the seven prefectures of Kyushu, the seven carriages of the train and the seven main tourist attractions of the island (nature, cuisine, hot springs, history/culture, spiritual sites, local hospitality and sightseeing).
Those who want to take a Seven Stars journey need to apply online. Prices start from ¥180,000 ($1,765) per person for the two-night trip.
No first come first serve here.
The company says that in the event that applications exceed available places, a lottery will be conducted to select participants.