The recently added train feels like a blast into both the future and the past!

Stretching from the shopping hub of Ikebukuro in central Tokyo all the way out west and north to the small, rural city of Chichibu in Saitama is the Seibu Railways Ikebukuro Line (which turns into the Chichibu Line after Agano Station). On a regular train, that ride to Chichibu would take about an hour and 45 minutes, and even longer from Tokyo or other stations, but luckily, Seibu Railways has an express train for that, and it now comes with futuristic luxury!

The limited express train known as Laview was instated for regular use on the Seibu Railways Ikebukuro Line in 2019, and it quickly became popular among train otaku for its futuristic design, which “looks almost like a space ship”. We’ve been wanting to ride it for a while now, and so we were excited when we managed to catch it after completing some business at Hanno Station, which is about three-quarters of the way to Chichibu from Ikebukuro.

In addition to the regular train fare, it cost an extra 500 yen to ride the Limited Express train from Hanno to Ikebukuro (the price is different depending on how far you’re traveling, of course), but we considered it worth the price for the experience. The look of the train, from the pictures we’d seen, had us pretty excited to ride it!

Tickets in hand, we proceeded to the Limited Express platform, where the Laview was waiting patiently for its passengers. One of the unique things about this train is its huge glass windows, which are 1.35 meters tall and 1.58 meters wide (4.4 by 5.2 feet). They’re enormous! But we also liked its mustard yellow seats. Very stylish.

We were excited to get on, but of course we had to check out the front of the train first.

It looked like a space pod, or a time machine, or something out of a sci-fi film! It was beautiful, almost like a shooting star. That got us even more excited to get on.

In the boarding zone, the walls were painted in the same yellow as the seats, and the floors were made of synthetic marble, which looked very fancy. Seeing this, we could understand why this train won the Blue Ribbon prize from the Japan Railfan Club in 2020. And after this eye-catching entrance….

More yellow! But better than that, the car was extremely well-lit thanks to its large windows. It was a very clean and simple train interior, but we liked the look of it. Some soft indirect lighting added to the futuristic feel of the cabin, but we couldn’t help but feel the seats actually had a slightly retro feel to them as well.

The seats were a soft, plush design that really lets you sink in, like a couch. The fluffy seat covers were luxuriously comfortable. We found it nice that the height of the pillow was adjustable, and we also appreciated how much room there was between the seats. And to think we only paid 500 yen for this luxury ride!

However, there was one thing that bothered us. Though the rest of the car was pretty empty, the seats all around ours were full! You can’t choose your seat when you purchase your ticket at the ticket machine, so we suspect that maybe the machine just fills up the seats in order. Still, having a bunch of people in plain old business suits filling the seats around us really took away from that futuristic feel.

But that’s really the only fault we could find with the Laview. In fact, it was overall a very pleasant, comfortable ride. The train was super smooth, so it was easy to get some work done.

The seat tables were quite large, so there was plenty of room for our laptop. There were AC outlets to plug our chargers into, and there was even WiFi (which requires you to sign up using your e-mail address).

But it’s only a 40-minute ride to Ikebukuro from Hanno, so there wasn’t much time to work after getting settled and set up. We were just thinking it might be time to put away the laptop and take out our lunch when we glided into Ikebukuro Station, and our little adventure was over in the blink of an eye.

With a sigh, we gathered our things and exited the train. Though we appreciated the faster trip, we almost wanted to ride it for longer. Now we completely understood why the Laview got its name: “(L)uxury living spaces, (a)rrow-like speed, and a (view) from the enormous windows”. We decided to make a point of riding it again!

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