Take A Look Inside Japan’s New Luxury Train

If you haven’t heard of Japan’s new Shiki-Shima luxury train, get ready to drool. And then get ready to pinch yourself very hard, because it’s completely sold out until 2018, so you won’t be riding on it anytime soon.

The much-anticipated Suite Train Shiki-Shima debuted May 1. The luxury train will depart from the Ueno station in Tokyo—leaving from platform 13½ (a nod to an almost-equally magical train that departed from platform 9¾, perhaps), which was built specifically for the train.

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Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

The Shiki-Shima can hold just 34 passengers. It has 17 suites and makes one-, two- and three-night round trip journeys to various locations throughout northeastern Japan. Travelers will be able to see rice fields, mountains and coastal views. Stops will be made so passengers can visit ancient shrines and temples, working farms and vineyards, and artisanal clothing ateliers along the route.

And if you were wondering about the amenities, they are beyond luxurious. Some of the suites even have a working fireplace or a second-floor loft!

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Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

The glass-enclosed observation cars will let passengers star up at the starry skies and offer gorgeous, panoramic views of the countryside.

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Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

Every aspect of the train is meant to combine “traditional Japanese craftsmanship and materials with modern touches,” according to Condé Nast Traveler. The train was designed by Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, who has worked for companies like Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati.

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Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

Oh, and if you were wondering about the food, the train’s chef is Katsuhiro Nakamura. Nakamura happens to be Japan’s first Michelin-starred chef, and his menus will change constantly over the course of the trip to reflect the specific region of the country the train is traveling through.

If you’re willing to wait an entire year for a trip on this luxury train, brace yourself. Nightly rates start at about $3,000 and go up to nearly $10,000. And once you’ve gotten over the sticker shock, you’ll still have to enter in an online lottery to win a spot on future trips. Plus, Shiki-Shima’s parent company, East Japan Railway, will only be opening these application periods every so often. So if you do manage to snag a ride, you’ve got all the luck in the world.

For now, we can just look at the pictures… and wipe our chins as we drool.

Watch These Experts In Japan Compete To Shave Wood 10 Times Thinner Than Hair

Where would we be without the internet to introduce us to all of the skills, hobbies and competitions we’d never have imagined people are engaging in across the globe? Well here’s a new one—new to us, at least. Wood planing is the art of shaving wood into very thin strips, and there’s a select group of experts in Japan who compete to shave off the thinnest piece of wood possible.

You might think to yourself, “Sure, I can shave a pretty thin piece of wood,” (OK, who are we kidding—you’ve probably never had that thought), but you might want to think again. Each year, participants compete at the annual Kezuroukai exhibition in Japan, where the practice originated, to see who can shave the thinnest piece of wood. These experts slice pieces of wood that are measured in just microns. To put things into perspective, a micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. The thinnest wood shaving on record was just 3 microns, which is 10 times thinner than a human hair and even smaller than a blood cell.

At the exhibition, each competitor is assigned a bench, where they spend two hours working on their technique and adjusting their tools. Once the contest starts, they have three tries to shave off the thinnest piece in front of a judge. Since the type of wood is important, participants can bring in their own wood that they believe will yield the best results.

We have to admit, this peculiar practice is pretty fascinating to watch. You might be good with your wood shop tools, but it takes a special type of talent to shave these extremely thin pieces of wood. Apparently those who shave the thinnest strips earn eternal glory though—so maybe you’re up for the challenge?