ON THE SHIKI-SHIMA, panoramic views through the glass walls and ceilings of the observation car are paired with opulent interiors decked out with tatami mats and Japanese cypress bathtubs. The Shiki-Shima, which runs different schedules depending on the season, departs Tokyo for various places in Japan, including Aizu-Wakamatsu and Noboribetsu, the latter on the northern island of Hokkaido – with spectacular stops along the way.
The Shiki-Shima mainly runs across the Kanto region of eastern Japan. In June, the Kansai region in western Japan got its own version: the Twilight Express Mizukaze.
The premium train departs from Osaka or Kyoto, travelling along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea and Sea of Japan to Shimonoseki on the southwestern tip of Honshu. Formed from the retired Twilight Express train that ran from Sapporo to Osaka, the Twilight Express Mizukaze bills its design as ‘nostalgic modern’. Expect art deco-inspired interiors and custom-made traditional crafts inspired by stops along the route. (Check out the driver’s compartment – it’s straight out of a locomotive from the 1960s).
There’s only one catch.
You’ll need both deep pockets and a lot of luck to step onboard both. Fares for the trains range from 270,000 yen to 1,250,000 yen (HK$19,250-HK$89,000) – and tickets are allocated by a lottery. Good luck!