Japan Grand Rail Tour


14-day Private Tour

Luxury

The Tour

Important Note: For the Japan Grand Rail Tour, The Society of International Railway Travelers® is honored to offer advance space on the ultra-exclusive Seven Stars, the “grand finale” of our luxury tour. This exquisite train — an art museum on wheels — typically sells out months in advance. We’re proud to offer confirmed (although limited) space on selected journeys.

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Our Japan Grand Rail Tour is an exquisite jewel of a journey. Imagine enjoying pre-trip canapés and drinks in the Seven Stars’  beautiful private waiting room in Fukuoka’s Hakata Station. Suddenly, the President of JR Kyushu drops by to welcome you. (This happened to our 2016 group!)

Imagine boarding this spectacular new train, the first luxury sleeper train in Japan. As you leave the station, you see dozens of locals waving the flags of the U.S. and other nations (depending on who’s on board) to send you off.

This train astounded our guests in 2016 — its first Western group. We are honored to present our luxury Japan tour, featuring the Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu. We’ve designed this stellar Japan tour with one of our outstanding Virtuoso partners for guests wishing to travel privately in luxury.

If you’ve visited Japan before, but want to return to sample its unique charms as well as its little-known—but incredible—places, and you want to do it in privacy and luxury, our Japan Grand Rail Tour is for you.

Latest News: Click here for owner Owen Hardy’s blog about his Japanese adventure on the Kyushu Seven Stars. Spoiler alert: He loved it!

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“…Even my short, two-day ride on the Seven Stars yielded a plethora of extraordinary experiences — visual, culinary, musical — even spiritual, if you believe the train’s tagline: “a journey to discover a new way of life.”
— Owen Hardy, The International Railway Traveler®

“OMG. I’ve never been on such a beautiful train!” — email from S. Pond, 2016 IRT tour participant on board the Seven Stars.

The Itinerary

NOTE: It is possible to shorten your journey by flying into Osaka on Day 5 and transferring to Kyoto.

Day 1: Tokyo
Private airport transfer from either international airport. The famed Peninsula is our hotel for the next two nights.

Day 2: Tokyo
This morning, meet your guide and visit the Imperial Palace’s beautiful East Gardens and Fukagawa Fudo temple, followed by a peek at the “Akihabara scene,” a fascinating window into the parallel universe of Japan’s geek-youth culture. Then meet and speak with retired sumo wrestlers, and visit Meiji Shrine, historic Asakusa district and Nakamise Shopping Street.

Day 3: Kanazawa
This morning, catch the new Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kanazawa, traveling to the west coast of Japan. Enjoy a walking tour of Kenrokuen Garden, one of the finest in Japan, a Kanazawa Castle tour and gold leaf workshop—to make your own pair of golden chopsticks. Other gems: a restored samurai house and tiny garden. Next two overnights at the Nikko Hotel.

Day 4: Kanazawa
Enjoy a full day touring in Kanazawa, with visits to its contemporary art museum, the Higashi district’s quaint streets and narrow alleyways, and an exquisite 19th-century chaya, or teahouse. Kanazawa is remarkable for its architecture and gardens, and also for its samurai and geisha cultures.

Day 5: Bullet Train to Kyoto
Now the focus shifts to Kyoto, hub of traditional Japanese culture. Begin with morning ride on bullet train to Kyoto. Today’s activities include visits to the railway museum, the grand Kiyomizu-dera temple and a private tea ceremony. Next two overnights at Westin Miyako.

Day 6: Kyoto
Today enjoy spectacular Silver and Golden Pavilions, the beautiful, tree-lined Philosopher’s Walk, the famed Daimaru Food Floor (one of Japan’s best food stores), traditional Japanese tea ceremony and — a real treat— special meeting with one of Kyoto’s famous geishas.

Day 7: Eastern Kyoto Mountains
Today, finish your Kyoto stay with visit to beautiful Arashiyama district with its Bamboo Forest, one of the most famous in all of Japan. See Tenryū-ji Temple and Sanjusangendo, a towering pavilion from olden times. Finish with a scenic ride on Sagano Romantic Train.

Day 8: Kyoto – Kurashiki
Morning train to Kurashiki. It’s called the “Bruges of Japan” because of its charm, canals, stone bridges, weeping willows, and winding streets. We will see the world-class Ohara Museum of Art, which houses many Western masterpieces as well as modern Japanese works. Overnight Kurashiki Ryokan.

Day 9: Fukuoka
This morning, three-hour train to Fukuoka, on Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu. This is a lively and surprising city. Enjoy the extensive shopping and dining opportunities. Or relax with a stroll along the seaside boardwalk. Overnight at Hotel Nikko Fukuoka.

Day 10: Seven Stars Train
Enjoy your morning before you transfer to Hakata Station. There, the staff of the luxurious Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu will welcome you to the beautiful Seven Stars’ Kensei (Venus) private lounge in the station. Relax and nibble delectable sweets, enjoy music by the pianist and other musicians, plus a champagne toast to your tour. With the clang of a traditional railroad bell, each Seven Stars passenger is welcomed and accompanied to the platform. After the gorgeous Seven Stars arrives, you’ll be shown to your cabin, where your luggage is already stowed.

Today, visit Mojiko and tour Usa Jingu Shrine or enjoy teatime and cultural craft workshop on the train. Tonight, enjoy a drink in “Blue Moon” bar car. Then savor a dinner in the diner, as live musicians entertain. The Seven Stars stops at night to assure restful slumber. Overnight on train tonight, stabled at Aso.

Day 11: Aso and Yufuin
Enjoy stunning Aso in the early morning. Lunch on board, using ingredients from Oita. Arrive Yufuin in the afternoon. You will stay in an exquisite boutique ryokan (Japanese inn,) which is famous for its luxurious natural hot springs. (You will stay at one of several ryokans since they are all small.) You will leave your large suitcases on board and take just an overnight bag to the ryokan. Overnight Yufuin area ryokan.

Day 12: Miyazaki
After a late breakfast, join the locals in a traditional ceremony of planting a small tree. Then return to the train for a unique lunch. This afternoon, travel to Miyazaki’s eastern coast on the scenic Nippo line. Miyazaki enjoys scenic views of both the ocean and nearby mountains. Overnight on the train in Kagoshima-Chuo station.

Day 13: Kagoshima-Chuo-Fukuoka
On your final day aboard the Seven Stars train, you will travel on the Hisatsu line with its famous swtich-back, one of the top three most scenic railway views in Japan. Enjoy a goodbye lunch and festivities on board. Then visit the Aoi-Aso Shrine before re-boarding the Seven Stars for our return trip to Hakata Station. Your guide will escort you back to the hotel for your final night in Japan. Dinner on your own tonight in one of Fukuoka’s great restaurants.

Day 14: Fukuoka
After your included breakfast, depart for home any time today. A private transfer to the airport is included. Or, begin an extension, perhaps with the Seven Stars’ “little sister,” JR Kyushu’s Sweet Train.

2018 Dates:

December 30-January 12, 2019 Waitlist

2019 Dates:

January 13-26 Wait list
February 10-23 Wait list

Further 2019 dates not yet announced. Be sure to get added to our First Notice List if interested!

The Prices

Please note: we are offering this tour as both a 14-day journey (as described in detail above), and as a shorter 10-day journey. The 10-day journey begins in Kyoto on Day 5.
2018 Pricing Price Deposit
Double (14-day tour) $35,232 30%
Single (14-day tour) $45,585 30%
Double (10-day tour) $25,592 30%
Single (10-day tour) $33,752 30%

 

2019 Pricing Price Deposit
Double (14-day tour) $35,232 30%
Single (14-day tour) $45,585 30%
Double (10-day tour) $25,592 30%
Single (10-day tour) $33,752 30%

 

 

Please note that all prices are per person.

Request an extension if you wish – perhaps with the Sweet Train.

*US Dollar pricing is based on the value of the Japanese Yen.  Trip cost to be reevaluated at time of final payment and may be adjusted accordingly.  Tour is private, and pricing is based on two persons traveling. Final balance due 120 days before departure. All payments are nonrefundable.

 

Other

This is a private journey.  Medical/evacuation insurance is required for this journey. We highly recommend full tour cancellation/interruption insurance to protect your travel investment. We will send a quote upon booking. The precise itinerary and off-train experiences for the Seven Stars program changes with the seasons to take full advantage of the wonders of Kyushu.

Latest News: Click here for owner Owen Hardy’s blog about his Japanese adventure on the Kyushu Seven Stars. Spoiler alert: He loved it!

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The Highlights

• Private Tokyo city tour and visit Imperial Palace’s stunning East Gardens
• Private meeting with sumo wrestler
• Visit to Tokyo’s famed Nakamise Shopping Street (one of world’s busiest)
• Stroll through Kenrokuen garden, one of Japan’s finest
• Bullet train rides on just-opened Kanazawa line in west Japan and to Kyoto
• Private city tour of Kanazawa
• Ride on ultra-scenic Sagano Romantic Train
• English-speaking guide & air-conditioned private coach bus for sightseeing
• Private tea ceremony and a conversation with a geisha
• Overnight in Kurashiki, the “Bruges of Japan”
• Kyoto city tour
• Overnight stays in fine ryokans, traditional Japanese hot springs inn
• All hotel nights, luggage handling, airport transfers, train tickets and all sightseeing activities as described in the itinerary

Scenic ride in the eastern Kyoto mountains on the Sagano Romantic Train. Photo courtesy of West Japan Railway Company
Scenic ride in the eastern Kyoto mountains on the Sagano Romantic Train. Photo courtesy of West Japan Railway Company
Japanese garden tour. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.
Japanese garden tour. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.
Stunning woodwork panels on the Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.
Stunning woodwork panels on the Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.
Server on the Seven Stars. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.
Server on the Seven Stars. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy.