High Speed Art - JR East Creates Art Gallery Bullet Train

Genbi Shinkansen

The new Genbi shinkansen is set to be launched this spring, offering train travellers a chance to admire artwork from contemporary artists. Find out how to take an art themed tour of Japan here!

JR East have announced an exciting new train experience for art lovers, with a new high speed bullet train adorned with contemporary works of art, decorating both the insides and outer facades of the train's six carriages.

The dramatically eye-catching new bullet train, named 'Genbi Shinkansen' will act as a moving gallery, displaying contemporary art works on the inside walls of the train to allow passengers the chance to indulge in an unusually enlightening ride! The stylish exterior of the train was designed by Japanese artist Mika Ninagawa to evoke the night summer sky and a famous fireworks festival held in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture.

On top of this art-gallery experience, passengers will also be able to feast on sweet treats prepared in the local area at the on-board cafe, including a vanilla cake made from rice flour from Uonuma City, Sado Island's specialty cream cheese lemon cake, and coffee from Tsubame City.

Genbi Shinkansen

The train will begin running along the Joetsu shinkansen line from 29 April 2016, right in time for the Golden Week celebrations, and will take passengers from Echigo Yuzawa to Niigata station on the west coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, stopping at a number of stations along the way including Tsubame-Sanjo, famous for its metal-working industry.

The train will run every weekend through until 26 June, after which updates to the schedule will be announced for July. Bookings can be made for the train's 11th car (on sale from 10am on 29 March), whilst carriages 12-16 will be for tour groups and available via special package deals (available to purchase from 2pm on 1 March). From July onwards, these seats are expected to be sold as unreserved seating.

Prices for the train are as follows:

Echigo-Yuzawa Station and Nagaoka Station:
Adults: 4,200-4,600 yen (£26-£29)
Children: 3,200-3,400 yen (£20-£21)

Echigo-Yuzawa Station and Niigata Station
Adults: 5,400-5,900 yen (£34-£37)
Children: 3,700-4,000 yen (£23-£25)

Visitors to Japan travelling along this route can further the experience by paying a visit to the Echigo Tsumari Art Field. Just 35 minutes away from Echigo-Yuzawa station, this art-fan’s wonderland is home to 200 art installations scattered and dotted around the landscape in fields, forests, unused schools and abandoned homes. Artists from all over the globe have produced works for the Echigo Tsumari Art Field and have developed relationships with the local people whose land they have borrowed for their magnificent installations. Every three years this area also plays host to the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale, so visitors in 2018 should keep their eyes peeled for news of the next event!

Visitors can visit six main art hubs, Tokamachi, Kawanishi, Matsuda, Matsunoyama, Tsunan and Nakasato, where you’ll spot giant pencils dangling in the air, be able to stand in the middle of rolling cylinders, visit café reflect, pull out drawers to find works of art in unexpected places and witness human-sized photographs.

The Echigo Tsumari website is a very helpful resource in planning a trip, as it provides a useful list of itineraries for exploring the areas by both car and train (see example itineraries here). The website also details local accommodation options, as well as recommended restaurants in the area, making it easy to go and explore this culturally rich area of Niigata as part of a longer visit to Japan. Find out more about the installations and what you can expect to see here.

Artist: Pascale Marthine Tayou
Title: Reverse City
Photographer: Takenori Miyamoto + Hiromi Seno