The new Hokuriku Line will open up a corridorto let tourists explore a whole side of Japan that was previously inaccessible.
These striking trains are the work of renowned industrial designer Ken Okuyama, who drew on traditional Japanese motifs to create the shinkansen’s exterior.
The J-pop group Aladdin had a song to encourage the stagnating country in 2008 that sang of its greatest accomplishments: “You’re amazing, Japan. You’re smart, Japan. This is the country that invented [mechanical pencils, blue diode, karaoke and the shinkansen].” Fifty-one years since the first shinkansen started zooming across dedicated rail lines in 1964, these bullet trains remain one of Japan’s greatest prides. After the country was left devastated by the Second World War, the invention of the shinkansen marked a great achievement and was instrumental in Japan’s later success.
March 14, 2015, marks an exciting day with the opening of a new shinkansen route: the Hokuriku Line, starting in Tokyo and extending through the Japanese Alps to the Sea of Japan coast. Until now, the east coast has been inaccessible for most overseas tourists because of its complicated train routes, but this new corridor will open up discovery of a whole new side of Japan.
The brand new E7 and W7 series trains will make up the fleet on the Hokuriku Line. These trains were conceived by the renowned industrial designer Ken Okuyama, the first and only non-Italian person to design a Ferrari sports car. His sleek design has its base in traditional Japanese motifs, with an ivory body, a sky-blue roof and a nose trimmed with bronze. The interior is just as impressive, with state-of-the-art seating and bathrooms with heated toilet seats.
The ride along the new line from Tokyo to Kanazawa is approximately 2.5 hours and will take you on a breathtaking journey through the magnificent mountains and along the scenic coast. The mountain city of Nagano is a notable stop where you can see the impressive Winter Olympics facilities and snow monkeys bathing in hot springs during the wintertime. Kanazawa is a stunning city on the sea, rich with history and some of the best seafood in the world. Here, you can time travel between the futuristic 21st Century Contemporary Museum and the historic Higashi Chaya District, where rows ofold teahouses and back alleys full of little shops recall the past.
A one-way ticket from Tokyo to Kanazawa starts at 13,600 Japanese yen (around 130 Canadian dollars), but you might want to consider buying a Japan Rail Pass for ¥29,110 (about $293), which you can only purchase outside of Japan. With this pass, you have seven days of unlimited rides on Japan Rail trains—and you can quickly get your money’s worth if you are planning to visit multiple cities.
can go to be treated as a king or queen. Here, you can put on some nice, comfy slippers and quench your thirst with all-you-can-drink alcohol and soft drinks while reclining in the luxurious
leather seats. Meals are also provided, and you can choose from a menu featuring seasonal foods and delicacies from your destination.
The leather seats in GranClass are so comfortable that they’re actually rejuvenating, and each has a control panel so you can adjust it just how you like. With seats like this, you’ll never want your journey to end.
For a roomier experience than economy, the Green Car is a great step up. Equipped with a footrest, your own reading light, a cup holder and more, you’d think you were in first class.
This efficient, functional train is designed so that everything is intuitive and streamlined for the passengers while also being extremely high-tech and sophisticated. The spacious bathrooms are equipped with heated toilets and bidets, a futuristic diaper-changing table and a large vanity area.
For around $9.50, you can purchase an award-winning “Omatsu gozen” ekiben from Otomo-Rou. Two abundant layers of beautifully coordinated ingredients include shrimp, egg, lotus and more—as pleasing to the eye as they are to the tastebuds.
Resembling a covered carriage used by nobility during the samurai period, the Toshiie gozen ($11) features Kanazawa dishes such as jibu-ni (chicken simmered in dashi), unagi (eel) and tamago (egg). A nice little confectionary seals the meal.
Hanayome Noren: All aboard for a cultural journey
A special train will be joining the fleet in October of 2015—the Hanayome Noren. The entire train is a tribute to Ishikawa Prefecture’s traditional lacquer and arts: it was designed and meticulously decorated to evoke the traditional Japanese concepts of harmony and beauty. The train’s name refers to the 150-year-old local tradition of noren curtains, which are bright and decorative curtains given to daughters on their wedding days with wishes of happiness and prosperity.