The Royal Express is coming to Hokkaido, but if you can’t wait, it’s already running in the Tokyo area.

The efficiency of Japan’s commuter trains can’t be overstated. The rail networks that service Tokyo and other urban population centers are all about getting as many people as possible to their schools and offices with maximum efficiency, and they do an incredible job meeting that goal.

But Japan is also a country that loves hospitality and for-fun travel, and when train designers put their skills towards those goals they can do some amazing things too.

Seen here is the exquisitely designed Royal Express, a sightseeing train operated by Tokyu Dentetsu, one of the major private railway companies in the Tokyo area. The eight-car train’s amenities are a far cry from the plasticky bench seats and hanging straps of ordinary trains, instead inviting passengers to take a seat on elegantly upholstered seating as they relax and enjoy the journey.

▼ Yes, that is a piano. Not pictured the violinist who also provides live musical accompaniment to meals served in the Platinum Class dining car.

Extensive use is made of traditional Japanese kumiko-style wooden latticework, and the ceilings are also exercises in expressive aesthetics.

Even the kids’ play area, which includes a “picture book library” collection of children’s literature, is beautifully appointed, with a “wooden pool” instead of standard plastic ball pit.

▼ Family seats in the kids’ area have spacious desks, great for reading or other activities.

And should you be thinking the Royal Express looks fancy enough to be a wedding venue, that’s also an option in the event space car, which can also be booked for art exhibitions or conferences.

Ordinarily, the Royal Express runs between Yokohama (roughly 30 minutes south of Tokyo) and the beautiful seaside town of Shimoda, about three hours down the coast in Shizuoka Prefecture.

However, it’s been announced that in 2020, thanks to a special agreement between Tokyu and Japan Railways Hokkaido, the Royal Express will be shipped to the northern island for limited-time runs between Sapporo and east Hokkaido, likely for a period lasting a month sometime during the late-spring or summer, letting travelers make their way across Japan’s largest prefecture in style.

Related: The Royal Express website
Sources: The Royal Express, IT Media
Top image: The Royal Express
Insert images: The Royal Express (1, 2)