World’s best train trip “Seven Stars in Kyushu” – Most travelers love it for 3 years in a row

JR Kyushu’s cruise train “Seven Stars in Kyushu” has been awarded the first rank for the third consecutive year in the train category of the readers’ vote to select the world’s best travel destinations conducted by the travel magazine “Condé Nast Traveler” by the major US publisher Condé Nast.

A suite room onboard JR Kyushu's cruise train "Seven Stars in Kyushu" (Image by JR Kyushu)
A suite room onboard JR Kyushu’s cruise train “Seven Stars in Kyushu” (Image by JR Kyushu)

The most historic and authoritative travel ranking in the world

Condé Nast Traveler is a high-quality travel magazine aimed at the luxury group that is distributed globally, mainly in North America, but also in Europe, the Middle East and India. An annual reader-voted project “The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards” features travel experiences from a variety of sectors related to the tourism industry including hotels, cities, resorts and cruises from around the world.

It is said to be the most authoritative travel ranking in the world, and the winners for the 36th time in 2023 were determined by votes from approximately 500,000 readers. They say that train trip is popular among adventurers who seek a leisurely travel experience and people with high environmental consciousness. The trains that make the list are not high-speed trains such as the Shinkansen, but mainly sightseeing trains and sleeper ones that allow you to enjoy the experience of traveling over a long period or several days.

JR Kyushu’s “Seven Stars in Kyushu” took the first place surpassing the No.3 “Venice Simplon Orient Express” which is a symbol of European rail travel, and the No.2 “Palace on Wheels” which offers journeys around the world heritage sites in India.

The highly acclaimed features of this train include the fact that it provides exquisite services for a maximum of 20 people, and that every detail, from the bed to the sink to the ceramic dinner plate, is handmade by Japanese craftsmen. During the 3-night, 4-day trip around Kyushu, you can stop at local shrines, hot springs and pottery workshops. During the 3-night, 4-day trip around Kyushu, you can stop at local shrines, hot springs and pottery workshops. They also mentions the attractions outside of the ride, saying that you can explore an authentic side of Japan in a way that is different from the more obvious tourist tracks.

(See the chart below for details such as winners on the train category of “Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choise Award”.)

[Chart] Winners on the train category of "Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choise Award"

“36+3” has a feeling like a ryokan

The sightseeing train “36+3”, which started operating on October 16, 2020 and will soon celebrate its third anniversary, also ranked 15th for the first time. This is the first double award for JR Kyushu.

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Like Seven Stars in Kyushu, 36+3 travels around Kyushu, but it does not have sleeper facilities. The feature is that you can easily experience a day trip where you can enjoy the scenery and food by the train, even if it’s just for one day. It is used the black-painted train formation equipped with a buffet and private compartments based on the 787 series EMU used for the former flagship limited express “Tsubame.”

The magazine first focused on the unusual train name. They explain the origin noting that Kyushu is the 36th largest island in the world, and also that there are three key stakeholders on this journey: “passengers,” “local community,” and “JR Kyushu.” The interior of the train, which combines private rooms and common spaces, has an inn-like atmosphere, characterized by impeccable woodwork and furniture made using local techniques. It is popular because even if you only ride for a single day, you can enjoy a fulfilling trip.

Other famous trains from around the world also rank high, such as Peru’s “Belmond Andean Explorer,” which runs through the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 4,000 meters. Just by reading the introductions for each train posted on the official website, anyone can embark on a train journey in the world of their imagination.

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