"Off-the-Beaten Path" in Japan: Part 1 - Japan Train Journey aboard the Seven Stars Kyushu

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On a recent trip to Japan, I was lucky enough to experience a rail vacation onboard Japan’s first luxury sleeper “cruise train,” the Seven Stars in Kyushu.  I say lucky, because demand is so high for these train journeys that confirmation is handled through a lottery system.  
 
My adventure began in the city of Fukuoka, the largest city on the island of Kyushu.  Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan and the most southwesterly of the four main islands.  It’s known for its active volcanoes, beaches and natural hot springs.  The island boasts Japan’s greatest number of hot spring sources, “onsen” in Japanese.   The seven prefectures of the island are connected by 3000 kilometers of train tracks.
 
The journey began at the Kinsei Lounge in Hakata Station.  Kinsei means “Venus”, and this lounge has been made especially for the use of Seven Stars passengers. This is where passengers check in and relax before being escorted to the platform in time to watch Seven Stars arrive. I enjoyed music from the pianist, and was served beverages and specially prepared sweets.  

Seven Stars describes their journeys in the following way:  
“If every journey is special, how can one describe a journey on this train? Scenery flows by through the train windows, from verdant green mountains to sparkling sea views. Water is abundant throughout the region, and the residents here live in gratitude of their natural blessings.”
 
I read this description only after my return home.  And as I reviewed my pictures of the experience, I relived the calming feelings of contentment I felt while onboard.  
 
The train itself is simply magnificent. The attention to detail, the luxury, and the gentle gracious service onboard are all aligned with the most luxurious train journeys of the world. The Belmond Royal Scotsman and the Transcantabrico-Gran Lujo of Spain immediately came to mind when I stepped onboard.                                  
 
                                        
Beautiful hand-made wooden walls everywhere! I chose wood-screen making as my onboard activity, and I can tell you, this wall is a masterpice of patience, care, and love of the art by the wood crafters.  I will always treasure my 5 square inches of carpentry.  Other passengers and I were so proud of our hard work! 
                                 
The rear of the lounge car features a large bay window for enjoying the scenery as it flows by.  There is a bar in the lounge, as well as couches and rotating chairs for passengers to sit in while enjoying live musical performances. 
 
One day, Takuo Yamanaka prepared our lunch.  He has led the sushi culture in Hakata for years as head of “Yamanaka”, a top restaurant that represents Hakata’s sushi cuisine. 
                                
I had to try the local draft brew in a $600.00 hand-pounded copper mug...that I could buy if I desired!
 
The fourteen guest rooms on the Seven Stars are all suite rooms of varying designs. These special rooms hold just 14 couples, keeping the number of passengers at an intimate size. The decor on the train is a fusion of Japanese and Western design.  My favorite suite with its private viewing window is at the top of this post.
 
Learn more about luxury train travel through our Japan vacation packages from our experienced experts.
   
Stay tuned for "Japan Off-the-Beaten Path" Part 2.