To quote Paul Simon, “There’s something about the sound of a train that’s very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful.” Even though these days we’ve all grown more accustomed to other, often faster forms of travel, this sentiment holds true. It’s also precisely the type of emotional experience you want when you’re visiting a glorious region like Kyushu where slowing down to smell the flowers, so to speak, is the best way to appreciate all the island has to offer.
The Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan’s first luxury sleeper train, or cruise train, was launched in 2013 to deliver this very feeling to passengers while also being a novel way to share the wonders of this area with the world.
Not only will you be treated to first-class service, gourmet cuisine and one-of-a-kind cabin suites decorated by artisans, you’ll also enjoy a leisurely ride through the diverse nature of the island and enriching encounters with locals – along with a sense of being transported back to the sophisticated days of rail travel.
The deluxe train’s name is a nod to the fact it boasts seven carriages, takes you through all seven prefectures, and embraces Kyushu’s seven top drawcards, namely nature, food, history and culture, onsen (hot springs), “power spots”, humanity, and trains.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the best feature of The Seven Stars in Kyushu. Is it the radiant royal wine red color, described as the hue of ancient lacquer, of the train’s exterior (embellished with the seven prefecture names written in gold)? Is it the panoramic windows inviting in views of the shimmering ocean and verdant mountains? Is it the Lounge Car’s “Blue Moon” saloon where you can sip on drinks at the bar while being entertained by a live piano performance?
Some guests have even remarked that, for them, the most charming part was interacting with the onboard crew and the welcoming Kyushu locals they met along the way (keep an eye out for residents waving flags and hands at the train along the route).
Whatever it is that makes the experience unforgettable for you, there is no doubt you’ll leave with the essence of Kyushu imprinted on your soul.
Seven Stars in Kyushu Recommended Journeys
Operating on a 3,000km-long railroad, The Seven Stars in Kyushu offers a range of seasonal journeys. Here are the two main courses:
4 Days 3 Nights
This plan is full of nature, cuisine, history and adventure with off-board excursions along the way. Explore five out of the seven prefectures (Fukuoka, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Kumamoto) and enjoy a one-night stay at a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn) in Yufuin, known for its beautiful hot springs. Experience making local crafts from Kunisaki, a guided tour of Tsuno Winery, a Kumiko woodwork workshop and more. From ¥688,000-¥1,647,000 per person.
2 Days 1 Night
Leading you through Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki and Oita, this route lets you stop off at a historic pottery kiln in Arita and explore the untouched countryside of Yufuin. Also tuck into Japanese food including a boxed bento with local ingredients. From ¥321,000-¥800,000 per person.
Note: The details of these courses are subject to change. Please check the website for updates.
Reservations are accepted twice a year at www.cruisetrain-sevenstars.jp/english/application/
More info at www.cruisetrain-sevenstars.jp/english/