Luxury ‘dream train’ designed over 100 years ago goes into service in Kyushu

JIJI

Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu), on Saturday launched the commercial operation of a luxury passenger train, a revival of a dream train created more than a century ago.

The train, Aru Ressha, features a gold and black exterior with an arabesque design and a gorgeous interior comparable to that of a luxury hotel. Passengers are served a first-class sweets course that uses seasonal food from the region.

The train was originally built by a U.S. company in 1908 following an order from the then predecessor of JR Kyushu, but did not go into service at the time as the Japanese company was nationalized.

The “train of dreams,” as the train had long been known among railway fans, was revived by designer Eiji Mitooka, based on a model crafted by the late Nobutaro Hara, who was known as the “god of the model railway.” Mitooka is also the designer of JR Kyushu’s luxury sleeper, Seven Stars in Kyushu.

Aru Ressha consists of two cars and has 38 seats. It makes one round trip a day, mainly on weekends, between Oita and Hita, both in Oita Prefecture, from August to October, and between Sasebo and Nagasaki, both in Nagasaki Prefecture, from November to March.

A one-way adult ticket costs a minimum of ¥20,000.

The departing ceremony for the luxury train, held Saturday at Oita Station, was attended by JR Kyushu President Toshihiko Aoyagi and Yoshihiro Narisawa, the owner-chef of a two-star Michelin restaurant in Tokyo and the supervisor of the luxury confectionaries served on the train.

“I believe my father is glad (at the train’s launch) more than anyone else,” Kento Hara, the son of the late model railway creator and deputy director of the Hara Model Railway Museum in Yokohama. “It (the train) looks more brilliant under the blue sky.”