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Japan's Newest Train Is Basically a Luxury Hotel on Rails

In a country that really loves its trains, the latest wonder is about more than just a fancy trip.
A crew member introduces the dining car of the Train Suite Shiki-Shima, operated by East Japan Railway.
A crew member introduces the dining car of the Train Suite Shiki-Shima, operated by East Japan Railway.STR/AFP/Getty Images

In Japan, trains are more than just a way to get around. The shinkansen, or high-speed rail network, was the world’s first; after more than 50 years, it remains a symbol of the country’s economic success after the devastation of World War II. Today, these bullet trains stretch across the country, bringing rural locales and cities far from Tokyo into a centralized, urban fold.

The nation’s rail network is already the idol of transportation enthusiasts around the world, and the latest addition is sure to attract even more adoration. A new long-distance train, the East Japan Railway Company’s Shiki-Shima, launched this week, and it’s already earning praise as perhaps the most luxurious train in the world. Its 10 cars hold 17 spacious suites, some kitted out with cypress bathtubs and lofts. And that’s not the only thing that makes it feel like a five-star hotel: This train also sports a piano bar, two glass-walled observatory cars, and even a Michelin-accredited restaurant.