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For most people, getting to fly first class in an airplane to some far off destination is a fleeting dream, too expensive to actually accomplish. So for those of you wishing you could enjoy free slippers and a dedicated cabin attendant but don’t want to shell out half a year’s salary to do it, look to the first class section of the shinkansen, Japan’s high speed bullet train.

One of our Japanese reporters took a ride on the Hayabusa E3 Shinkansen in “Gran Class” from Tokyo all the way up north to Aomori and documented his luxurious trip. Take a look inside his first class cabin experience!

  • All beverages, including alcohol, are all-you-can-drink!!

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All drinks in first class are free – and you can drink as much as you want! Of course they have sodas, but they also have a surprisingly extensive selection of alcohol including beer, red or white wine, nihonshu (sake), and cider. What’s more, the beer on offer was Suntory Premium Malts, one of the more expensive canned beer available in Japan. So drink up, first class passengers! You might even be able to get that extra money for your first class ticket back in free beer.

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▼ Or you can just get some tea if you’re not into getting drunk at 320 km/h (200 mph).DSCN3322

  • You get a bento lunch box too

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While riding in first class on the shinkansen, you also get your choice of a Japanese- or Western-style bento lunch box. They aren’t particularly big, but if you think of it as a snack to go along with your alcohol, then it’s the perfect amount.

▼ The Western-style bento comes with a variety of sandwiches.DSCN3336

▼ You even get a nice little apple pastry to go along with it.
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▼ And some nuts and crackers.DSCN3342

  • Of course the seats are really fancy

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As you might expect, while sitting in the first class seats, you have plenty of space even if the person in front of you puts their chair all the way back. “What the heck?! This is so cool!!” gushed our traveling reporter.

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The seats go back at a 45 degree angle, are wide enough to give you plenty of elbow room, and even have a charging port for your iPhone. First class is so comfortable! The only complaint our reporter had was that there were too many buttons on the seat; he couldn’t figure out what all of them do.

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▼ You need to read the manual carefully if you’re ever going to figure out all the buttons.DSCN3312

  • You get your own attendant

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The first class cabin attendant was there for our reporter whenever his beer ran dry. All he had to do was call her over and a brand new, ice cold beer was placed in front of him. And of course the attendant was exceptionally kind (and cute).

  • You get tons of free amenities!

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A blanket, shoehorn, eye mask, slippers, the list goes on and on! Even better, you can take everything except the blanket home with you. Although this sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us, our reporter wondered why they allow you to take home all those things; he can’t imagine using the slippers while walking around in his own living room.

  • It’s not too expensive

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The first class carriages started in 2011 on the Tohoku Shinkansen, with Gran Class carriages running from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori Station. The base fee for taking the shinkansen one-way is 9,870 yen (US$91) and upgrading to Gran Class is an additional cost of 16,490 yen ($152). This may seem like a lot, but considering a first class or even business class upgrade on an airplane can cost hundreds of thousands of yen (or several thousand dollars), it isn’t too hefty of a price.

So if you’re craving a little bit of luxury in your life and want to take a trip to Aomori’s apple country, consider a Gran Class upgrade on the Hayabusa Shinkansen. It’s worth every extra yen!

▼ Can’t make it to Japan for a first class ride on the shinkansen? Take a look at a 360 degree view of the cabin our reporter rode in!


And here’s a few more photos of the inside:

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If you’ve ever ridden in first class, share your experience with us in the comments section below!

Reference:グランクラス
Photos: RocketNews24