/

Japan’s swanky Royal Express train debuts to travel along scenic Izu coast

Kyodo

Railway operators Tokyu Corp. and Izukyu Corp. on Friday began operating a luxury train service between Yokohama and the south of the Izu Peninsula — a popular hot-spring resort area.

The inaugural Royal Express train left Yokohama Station for Shimoda, near the southern tip of the peninsula, on a roughly three-hour trip offering scenic coastal views of the Pacific Ocean for much of the way.

The Royal Express, leaves JR Yokohama Station on Friday morning. Jointly operated by Izukyu Co. and Tokyu Corp., the new luxury train will offer passengers scenic views of the Izu Peninsula and Sagami Bay during their journey.
The Royal Express, leaves JR Yokohama Station on Friday morning. Jointly operated by Izukyu Co. and Tokyu Corp., the new luxury train will offer passengers scenic views of the Izu Peninsula and Sagami Bay during their journey. | KYODO

The eight-car train, which seats up to 100 passengers, is the newest of the luxury services launched in recent years by Japanese railway companies.

Easily identifiable by the gold line running along the side of each royal blue carriage, the train includes a dining car, a multipurpose car where wedding ceremonies or exhibitions can be held, and a car containing a ball pool and library for children.

A pianist demonstrates her technique Friday in a special lounge at Tokyu Yokohama Station for passengers of The Royal Express luxury train.
A pianist demonstrates her technique Friday in a special lounge at Tokyu Yokohama Station for passengers of The Royal Express luxury train. | KYODO

Various travel packages using the irregularly operated train are on offer, with the most expensive priced at ¥200,000 for a round-trip journey, which includes a one-night stay in a hotel suite with open-air hot spring bath.

Some round-trip plans also include a mini-tour of Ito, a major sightseeing spot located about halfway down the east coast of the Izu Peninsula.

Shimoda, the southern terminus, is where Commodore Matthew Perry and U.S. warships he commanded arrived in 1853, demanding Japan end over 200 years of isolation and open itself to foreign trade.

The interior of the Royal Express was designed by Eiji Mitooka, who also designed the famed Seven Stars luxury express operated by JR Kyushu.
The interior of the Royal Express was designed by Eiji Mitooka, who also designed the famed Seven Stars luxury express operated by JR Kyushu. | DON DESIGN ASSOCIATES / VIA KYODO

“Izu is a wonderful place with beautiful nature and hopefully this train will cheer up the communities located along the railroads where it’s running,” industrial designer Eiji Mitooka said in a speech at the inaugural departure ceremony.

Mitooka, who played a leading role in designing the train, also worked on the Japan Railway group’s luxury sleeper train in operation since 2013 in southwestern Kyushu.