Seibu Railways have released details of a new holiday sightseeing train which will debut on April 17th this year and run between stations in Tokyo and Saitama prefecture. The train will run three courses, between Ikebukuro Station and Seibu-Chichibu Station, Seibu-Shinjuku Station and Seibu-Chichibu Station, and Seibu-Shinjuku and Honkawagoe Station.
This train is a redesign of the #4000 series four carriage train which currently runs along these routes, and has been renamed “52 Seki-no-Shifuku” or “52 Seats of Happiness”. As this is a specially designed restaurant train, set course meals will be included in the cost of the ticket. With beautifully designed interiors and a creative menu from some of Tokyo’s top chefs, this restaurant train offers passengers a truly romantic travelling experience.
The train will have 52 seats in total, and all with dining tables, as the entire train will serve as a restaurant. Every aspect of this train from the name, to the playing cards logo, and even the on-board background music has been specially created by a top team of creative masters. Most notably, the famed architect and designer Kengo Kuma lent his genius to the train’s exterior and interior design. Using the natural scenery through which the train will pass as his inspiration, Kengo Kuma has decorated the train with a motif of water flowing through a ravine.
Regional expertise and materials have been used exclusively on the interior decor which includes traditional handicraft decorations, local timber for the wood paneling and Chichibu Meisen silk for the partitions between carriages. The ceiling of the second carriage will be decorated with persimmon dyed washi paper, and that of the fourth carriage will employ Nishikawazai wood from Saitama prefecture.
The third carriage will be an open kitchen galley car in which passengers can view a team of highly skilled cooks preparing their meals. As the restaurant will serve Japanese, Chinese and Western style cuisine, there will be a celebrated chef assigned to each style, with Chef Takashi Tamura of renowned Tokyo restaurant Tuskiji Tamura, acting as overall supervisor.
Only a course menu will be served and for April through to June this will be centered on fresh ingredients from Saitama prefecture and Saitama beef. The courses are as follows:
Brunch Course: hors d’oeuvres / soup / main dish / dessert buffet
Dinner Course: an aperitif / amuse-bouche / hors d’oeuvres / soup / main dish / dessert
For all meals soft drinks are free, but alcoholic beverages will cost extra.
A brunch course ticket covering the cost of the meal and journey is 10,000 yen (tax inclusive), and a dinner course ticket is 15,000 yen (tax inclusive). Tickets for children are not available as this is an adults only plan.
This train is intended to run on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays only, and so will run around 100 times over the course of the year.
Here are the scheduled running times for the three routes:
Ikebukuro Station⇔Seibu-Chichibu Station
Brunch: Ikebukuro（10:50 departure）→ Seibu-Chichibu（14:00 arrival）
Dinner: Seibu-Chichibu（17:40 departure）→ Ikebukuro（20:00 arrival）
Seibu-Shinjuku Station⇔Seibu-Chichibu Station
Brunch: Seibu-Shinjuku（10:45 departure）→ Seibu-Chichibu（14:00 arrival）
Dinner: Seibu-Chichibu（17:40 departure）→Seibu-Shinjuku（20:00 arrival）
Seibu-Shinjuku Station ⇔Honkawagoe Station *
Brunch: Seibu-Shinjuku（10:45 departure）→ Honkawagoe (13:15 arrival）
Dinner: Honkawagoe (17:15 departure）→Seibu-Shinjuku（20:00arrival）
* The route between Seibu-Shinjuku Station and Honkawagoe Station is not planned to begin until later in the year.
Unfortunately the only way to book this train at present is through the official Japanese website. Until Seibu Railways produce an English language website you will have to ask your tour company to book this journey for you.
Article by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.