To Ride One of Japan's Most Luxurious Trains, You First Have to Win a Lottery

Japan Train Travel
by Morgane Croissant Mar 19, 2024

Japan’s train travel opportunities are not limited to the bullet trains, AKA the Shinkansen. While the country is at the forefront of high-speed train technology (Japan holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest Maglev train in the world, which can reach a top speed of 374.68 mph), it also knows how to create extremely luxurious rail travel experiences.

Enter the Seven Stars in Kyushu, a train so exclusive that you have to win a lottery to ride it. Indeed, despite the fact that it costs thousands of dollars to take a trip on board this train, you need to fill in an application form to even be considered as a potential passenger. That’s because there’s very limited space on board the Seven Stars in Kyushu, which has can accommodate a maximum of 20 sleeping guests.

The Seven Stars in Kyushu: What is it like on board?

Piano lounge and bar car. Photo: KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY
Piano lounge and bar car. Photo: KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY

The Seven Stars in Kyushu is a small train, composed of only seven cars — one for each of the seven prefectures of the island of Kyushu where it operates. Of those seven cars, one hosts the piano lounge/bar space where passengers can enjoy drinks, live music, and the views thanks to large windows; one is the salon car where travelers can relax and socialize in comfortable armchairs and sofas, as well as enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in the small tea room; and the remaining five are dedicated to passengers’ personal quarters, with 10 guest rooms (eight suites and two deluxe suites). All guest rooms feature private en suites.

Suite on board the Seven Stars in Kyushu. Photo: KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY
Suite on board the Seven Stars in Kyushu. Photo: KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY

What makes the Seven Stars in Kyushu stand out is exactly what makes other luxury trains, like the famed Orient Express, so attractive: the striking interior, the high level of service, and the gourmet food. Despite the destinations and activities offered being extremely exciting and high end, it’s really what goes on on board that appeals to travelers. On board the Seven Stars in Kyushu, the decor is strikingly elegant, with an abundance of fine woodwork crafted by local artists who carry out traditional crafts in the 21st century, and potters who create ceramics for every day use on board the train according to time-honored traditions.

When does the Seven Stars in Kyushu run and how can I apply?

Exterior of the Seven Stars in Kyushu


The Seven Stars in Kyushu operates from April to August and from September to February. During each time period, there are two different trips available, one two-day trip and one four-day trip. Applicants must apply for the time period that suits them best but they don’t get to select a preferred trip. Applications for the April 2024 to August 2024 journeys are currently closed, and applications for the September 2024 to February 2025 journeys will close at the end of March, so hurry and fill out the necessary form if you want a shot at riding one of the world’s most luxurious trains.

How much does it cost to ride the Seven Stars in Kyushu?

The price of riding this very special train varies according to the length of the trip, the type of suite you stay in (regular suite or deluxe), and whether you’re traveling alone or as a pair (with traveling alone being more pricey).

For trips taking place between September 2024 and February 2025, based on double occupancy, a two day journey in a regular suite starts at $4310 (¥650,000) and a four-day journey starts at $7620 (¥1,150,000).

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