There’s so much to do in Tokyo that you can’t possibly fit them all in one trip. However, you should also plan a day trip out of the metropolis, preferably taking the high-speed bullet train that’s the pride and joy of Japan – the shinkansen. What’s more, there are special discount deals just for tourists.
Shinkansen operator Japan Railways frequently comes up with cool themed trains to make the journey more memorable. One of its most impressive offerings is the Genbi Shinkansen, which is quite literally a moving art museum. This special shinkansen only runs in Niigata prefecture, between Niigata and Echigo Yuzawa stations, and usually on weekends and national holidays.
This autumn, however, the train will be making a detour to Tokyo for just two days: October 5 and 6. If you’ll be in Tokyo at that time, you can go on a two-hour ride on a train that’s fully decked out with art, which will take you to Niigata, the prefecture famous for its premium rice and sake.
On those days, the Genbi Shinkansen will leave Niigata Station at 6.17am and arrives at Tokyo Station at 8.20am, before making a return trip to Niigata at 8.32am and arriving at 10.39am. A round trip ticket valid for the same day costs ¥17,000 (children ¥9,700), but bear in mind that your trip back to Tokyo will be in an ordinary shinkansen.
The Genbi Shinkansen went into service in 2016, with a total of six cars revamped into beautiful art galleries. While you can admire photographs by Naoki Ishikawa depicting the majestic mountain K2 of the Karakoram range in car No. 14, car No. 15 awaits with stunning floral installations by Haruka Kojin (pictured above). Kids will love car No. 13, whose walls and floor are covered with map- and mountain-like patterns, complete with a toy train system to play with. In the meantime, parents can relax in the adjoining café space that’s adorned with artworks by Kentaro Kobuke, who combines modern art with the traditional scenery of Mikuni Kaido, a former ancient highway connecting Gunma and Niigata prefectures.
Interested? You can get your tickets at JR’s travel service center View Plaza in all big stations around Tokyo, including Shinjuku, Tokyo and Ikebukuro, plus Haneda and Narita airports.
For more information on the operation schedule for the Genbi Shinkansen, click here (Japanese only). Can’t make it on the train? Don’t worry; you can spend time at Tokyo’s many world-class art museums.