- éditeur / Tamotsu Narita
Experience Sleeping In a Bunk On The Limited Express ”Train Hostel Hokutosei”
Long distance sleeper trains, affectionately nicknamed "Blue Trains," were the talk of the town in the 1980s. Many people would gather at station platforms with cameras in hand, hoping to get a good shot of these trains. However, due to the advancement of the public transport network, many sleeper train services were terminated. As such, there aren't that many opportunities to experience an overnight stay in a train in Japan anymore. Against that background, a hotel where you can experience staying in a sleeper train, was opened in Tokyo on December 15th, 2016.
The Hostel That Used Authentic Parts From "Hokutosei"
With the rapid growth of the Japanese economy, Blue Train services were increased and in the latter half of 1970, Blue Trains made as many as 28 return trips per day. However, the long distance sleeper "Cassiopeia" was decommissioned in March of 2016, leaving the "Sunrise Seto/Izumo" (split/coupled at Okayama), which connects from Sanin/Shikoku to Tokyo, as the only remaining long distance sleeper train in service.
The "Hokutosei" limited express sleeper train, revived into the present-day Train Hostel Hokutosei, started services in March of 1988, when the Seikan Tunnel that links Hokkaido and Honshu was opened. More than just a mode of transport between Ueno and Sapporo, the Hokutosei was modeled after European luxury trains, from appearance to even its emblem. Its greatest characteristic was that its cabins were designed for passengers to enjoy the journey from Ueno to Sapporo itself.
Within the train, its crown jewel, the highest-grade "Royal" (A-type room, for single persons) were fitted with audio-visual equipment, a private shower room and toilet, and came with welcome drink, morning coffee, and morning paper services. Aside from private rooms, there were also a variety of other room types to choose from. It was also equipped with a lobby room for passengers who enjoy looking out through the train windows, shower rooms, and a dining car called the "Grand Chariot." The luxuriousness of the Hokutosei earned it the reputation of being a "moving hotel."
Train Hostel Hokutosei uses actual parts from the decommissioned Hokutosei train. The headmark of Hokutosei is prominently displayed at the entrance, and as you step inside you will be greeted by the model number of the locomotive emblazoned on the familiarly unique blue wall. The signboard suspended above the front desk is reminiscent of the roll sign used in train stations, and one look will make you feel like you are about to embark on an epic journey, whether you like it or not.
Conveniently Located And Reasonably Priced
The front desk is located on the 1st floor, the kitchen and lounge on the 2nd floor, guest rooms on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors, and laundry and shower rooms on the 6th floor. Train Hostel Hokutosei is the sole occupant of the building, therefore the whole building is a sleeper train, making for a unique type of accommodation. It is conveniently located a mere 5 minutes from Tokyo Station via the JR Sobu Rapid Line.
The bunks and seats within the premises were actual parts from the original Hokutosei train. The level of detail in replicating the atmosphere of the train is so high that even the most hardcore train maniacs will be pleased. The backrests of the seats can be folded down to form a bed, and the lighting of the reading lights, the three-sided mirrors installed by the washstands, the folding seats by the hallway, the bunk bed ladders, and even the doors were used to replicate the atmosphere of the Hokutosei. Also, pillows, beddings, and futons are provided to guests for a good night's sleep, but for travelers who wish to have a full experience of how it was like back then, the staff will even put some sheets on the bed for you, adding a nice touch to your stay.
The hotel has a maximum capacity of 78 persons, and the price for the double decker mixed dormitory (up to 54 persons) starts from 2,500 JPY per night, and the female-only double decker dormitory (up to 22 persons) from 2,800 JPY per night. Within either dormitories, there is an A-type private room (partitioned, for single person use) which starts from 4,000 JPY per night (All prices excl. tax. Accommodation prices can vary according to season). Check-in time is from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM, and check-out time is at 11:00 AM. The laundry room and showers are open 24 hours. There are lockers and space to store your luggages, and you can also make a long-term stay. All the staff speak English, making this hostel a foreigner-friendly one.
The phrase "travelers' mood" hasn't been heard in a long time, but try staying overnight at the Train Hostel Hokutosei, where you can experience the atmosphere of the past in comfort, and you might even be rewarded with good companions for your "journey"!
Train Hostel Hokutosei
1-10-12 Bakurocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Directly connected to exit 4 of Bakurocho Station on the JR Sobu Rapid Line)
Phone No.: 03-6661-1068
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