KITA-KYUSHU--Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) has unveiled its Nanatsuboshi (Seven Stars) luxury sleeper cruise train, which will start operations on Oct. 15 to tourist spots around the Kyushu region.
The sightseeing train operator showed reporters the interior of one of the five passenger cars on Sept. 13 at the company’s Kokura depot. A total of 108 journalists from 53 companies covered the unveiling of the "Seven Stars in Kyushu train."
JR Kyushu spent about 3 billion yen ($30.1 million) to manufacture the locomotive and the seven passenger cars of the Seven Stars train, equivalent to the cost of a Shinkansen bullet train.
The locomotive is painted in a reddish “ancient lacquer” color, which is well polished and mirrors the surrounding scenery.
Walls and the floor of the guest rooms in the third train car, which were shown to reporters, are mainly wooden. Hinoki cypress wood is used in the shower room, giving an aromatic experience.
A washbowl was made by the eminent Arita pottery master Sakaida Kakiemon XIV of Saga Prefecture, shortly before his death in June 2013. Luxurious furniture includes pieces made by craftsmen based in Okawa, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Interior work for the four other train cars will continue until shortly before the launch of the train service.
JR Kyushu will be the first to launch a luxury train service, while East Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co. are also planning to start a similar service.
After the train was shown to the media, later in the day, the Seven Stars screeched to a stop on a test run at Orio Station in Kita-kyushu on the Kagoshima Line around 3:50 p.m. on Sept. 13, JR Kyushu said. The train was moved to the platform about 40 minutes later to avoid disrupting service to other trains. It resumed operations shortly before 6:30 p.m. The train left Nishi-Kokura Station in Kita-kyushu at 3:29 p.m. It was expected to arrive in Takeshita Station in Fukuoka at 5:04 p.m.
JR Kyushu is looking into the cause of the malfunction.
When it begins operating on Oct. 15, the Seven Stars will depart from and end at Hakata Station in Fukuoka, making the rounds of key tourist locales on Kyushu island, such as Yufuin in Oita Prefecture, Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture and Nagasaki.
Passengers will have two ride options--a one-night, two-day plan, and a three-night, four-day plan.
Tickets cost up to 550,000 yen ($5,500) per person for double occupancy.
Despite the high price, reservations have flooded in, with the company receiving 10 times more reservations than are available, JR Kyushu said.
Reservations for departure dates up to June 2014 are now closed. Reservations will be accepted from January for trips starting in July to September 2014.
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