Being a photographer in Japan has so many perks – not the least of which is the amazing, ultra reliable bullet train system that means I can zip from city to city with so much less effort being subjected to all sorts of cavity searches in order to board a flight. Japan’s trains are so good, clean and fast that once you’re used to them, it’s almost impossible for any other country to live up to them.
Of course, Japan being Japan, they can’t leave well enough alone, and had to find some way to make the train experience even more sublime. Japan’s luxury train lineup is a serious droolfest for train nerds and luxury travelers alike, with berths on the most exclusive Shikishima train starting at around $7000 for a twin share. Not quite so expensive yet marvelous nonetheless is the Royal Express train, which I had the great pleasure of photographing for the Wall Street Journal late last year.
The Royal Express runs from Yokohama down to the tip of the Izu peninsula and is sumptuously appointed inside and out with gorgeous handcrafted wood paneling, with gold and pearl inlays. There is a entire carriage for children including a ball pit, a galley for meals (which I was lucky enough to sample, and it was amazing), a library in the very front carriage, and also a violinist.
I could go on and on about how amazing the experience was (although the coffee served onboard deserves a very special mention – it was heavenly), but it’d be a lot more efficient to let the photos do the talking.