Lonely Planet Writer

This traditional Japanese inn is actually inside a train

Japan has an uncanny ability to mix its modern, advanced technology with its long history and traditions and make the two co-exist in the same country. Or even on the same train.

The new Kyotrain Garaku looks like the inside of a traditional ryokan. Image courtesy of Hankyu Railway

The new Kyotrain Garaku is the latest addition to the Hankyu Railway fleet dedicated to tourists and sightseeing. Its interiors look like those of a traditional Japanese inn, the ryokan, which have existed since the 8th century and have remained pretty much the same until today.

The train is optimised for tourists and sightseeing. Image courtesy of Hankyu Railway

The train is decorated with real landscaped gardens, tatami, partitions that look like shōji sliding doors. Each car also has seat and wall decorations that are inspired by one of the four seasons. The autumn car has a maple leaf motif, while the winter car is dotted with bamboo designs. To no one’s surprise, the spring car is decorated with sakura, the famous cherry blossoms, and geraniums reign in the car dedicated to summer. Of course, the train will also be equipped with onboard Wi-Fi and have announcements in four languages – Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

The Kyotrain’s announcements aren’t just logistical but also informative of tourist spots along the way. Image courtesy of Hankyu Railway

The Kyotrain Garaku will start operating in March 2019 on the Kyoto line, connecting Japan’s ancient capital to the port city of Osaka four times a day both ways. The whole journey is around 45 minutes with four stops, at Karasuma, Katsura, Awaji and Juso. The fare is the same one you would pay on any other train – a ticket from Kyoto to Osaka is 400 yen, which is around €3.

The Kyotrain will start operating in March 2019. Image courtesy of Hankyu Railway

If you’d like to know more about the Hankyu Railway and its trains, you can visit the official website here.