From its launch in 1988, the Hokutosei train was a hit.
The 750-mile journey was the first to use Japan’s Seikan tunnel to provide service from Tokyo to Sapporo. It became popular with travelers for its luxury sleeper arrangements and dining car, where they could sample traditional French cuisine.
It was a staple of Japanese transportation until it was shut down in 2015 (people preferred a 1.5-hour flight to a 16-hour train). But now some enthusiasts are giving the train a memorial—in the form of a hostel.
Train Hostel Hokutosei is a newly-opened hostel in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district that pays homage to the train by recreating it.
Owners went to great lengths to make the space as authentic as possible. Several items in the hostel—bunkbeds, reading lights and the door to the dining car—were taken directly from the original train.
The dining area looks like a dining car. There are lounge areas with couches that face each other like train seats. The parallel bunk beds are set up to look just like a sleeper car.
“I traveled on the Hokutosei train several times,” a train employee who stayed at the hostel told The Japan News. “Memories come flooding back at the smell and the feel of things here.”
Four floors of the seven-story building are guest rooms, one of which is women-only. The hostel can accommodate 78 people in its sleeper car-style beds. There are also two “private” rooms available, which are separated by a curtain.
Dormitory beds are available from $22 per night.