Access to one of Japan's most beautiful and cultural rich areas - the Hokuriku Region, which is made up of Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui prefectures, all bordering the Sea of Japan on North-West Honshu - just got a lot better. With the Hokuriku Shinkansen having made its virgin run on 14 March 2015, the region's cultural capital of Kanazawa is now only a 2 hours and 28 minutes train ride away from Tokyo. With the addition of a luxury Gran Class above the usual business class, Green Car, travelling on the Shinkansen is now more pleasure than business.
A Gran Class ticket from Tokyo to Kanazawa (starting at 26,970JPY) comes with a spacious 45 degree reclining leather seat, reading lamp and foot rest. There are also helpful attendants ready to supply you with complimentary seasonal bento box lunches, drinks (including premium sake and sparkling umeshu plumwine) and snacks. Standard unreserved seats start at 13,600JPY.
The design of the new 7-series trains that will be running on the new tracks has been in the hands of Ken Okuyama who has designed previous Shinkansen trains for Japan Rail and also cars for Ferrari, Maserati and lately his own bespoke kode7, 8 and 9 range of cars. The exterior colour scheme is loosely Japanese in theme, with a sky blue roof and ivory white body (from traditional Japanese plaster walls) and accent copper lines along the side of the train. The Gran Class interior is kept simple but luxurious with ivory white leather seats, and wine red carpet, while the Green Car is kept in a blue two-tone more formal colour scheme.
As all the Shinkansen trains, the 7-series are optimised for speed, running at a steady 260km/h on the Hokuriku track. At this pace, the scenery outside becomes a pleasant blur of rice fields, mountains and glimpses of the Japan Sea, so sit back and relax with a cold Asahi Super Dry, like your fellow Japanese salarymen travellers. And just as you drift away, your cabin attendant will inform you that you have arrived at your destination.