Culture

This Japanese Hostel Is A Retired Sleeper Train

All aboard.

Sleeper trains are part of any backpacker’s journey. They get you from A to B, without you having to waste a whole day in transit. But since the introduction of high speed rail, affordable domestic flights and cheap highway busses, some of these historic services have been rendered obsolete.

Now, rail fans can relive the nostalgic appeal of sleeper trains in a brand new Japanese hostel fashioned from a retired sleeper train. It’s got all the charms, but without the rickety moving train part – which is a plus in our books.

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Located in Nihonbashi, Tokyo is the new Train Hostel Hokutosei. In a past life, the Hokutosei was a limited express sleeper train service that operated between Uneno Station in Tokyo and Sapporo Station in the northern island of Hokkaido. The 16-and-a-half hour journey was popular when it began back in 1988 as travellers revelled in the charms of luxury sleeping cars and its dining car that served French-style cuisine. However in August 2015, after a decline in popularity since the introduction of high speed bullet trains and affordable domestic flights, the service was discontinued.

The Hokutosei train cars have aged over the years, but instead of putting them out to greener pastures, East Japan Railway Co. decided to revive the cars and turn them into an off-beat accommodation option for travellers – something Japan’s certainly got a knack for.

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Opened in December, the building has seven sleeper trains stacked on top of each other functioning with many of the train’s original fixtures like convertible bunk beds, aluminium ladders, reading lights, curtains and fold-out seats.

Hokutosei has one floor for women only, as well as private rooms sectioned off with curtains. There’s a shared kitchen, lounge, laundry room and mixed bathrooms.

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The hostel currently has capacity for up to 78 guests, and costs around ¥2500 ($28AUD) to ¥4000 ($46AUD) per night.

(Images: Train Hostel Hokutosei)