Traveling by bullet train is already a pretty thrilling experience (they move at up to 130 miles per hour!), but if you install a contemporary art gallery aboard, then you've really got yourself quite the ride. This is exactly the concept behind East Japan Railway Company's newest train, which made its maiden voyage just last month, outfitted with the work of seven dynamic artists.
Operating on the Joetsu Line, which runs between Niigata Station in coastal Niigata and Echigo-Yuzawa Station in Yuzawa, this special train features six art-gallery carriages with work by a range of Japanese artists, and work by one American, along with an exterior with the vibrant photographs of Mika Ninagawa. Adding to the unique experience is the fact that passengers don't have assigned seats: The passing landscape is no longer your only visual stimulant—this train is all about exploring each car and experiencing the art.
Now, see inside this amazing train!
With the train windows closed off, artist Yusuke Komuta had the perfect canvas for his mirror installation. Made from stainless steel, this work is emblematic of the artist's graphic, reflective style.
In this installation by the duo Paramodel, artists Yasuhiko Hayashi and Yusuke Nakano created a kid-friendly art experience, playing off the Japanese train toy Plarail and including a train set kids can play with.
Artist Kentaro Kobuke has taken over the café. His Joetsu-inspired colored pencil drawings brighten up the eatery, which serves up local Niigata confections like rice powder vanilla cake and cream cheese lemon cake.
Car No. 14 has been transformed into a photo exhibition for the work of Naoki Ishikawa. The photos were shot in Niigata, and feature the colorful landscapes of the coastal town.
Artist Haruka Kojin has created one of her signature distorted environments in car No. 15. Called reflectwo, the works use vibrant, faux flower petals to create a bright and spellbindingly abstract environment.
In car No. 16, Brooklyn artist Brian Alfred, known for his pared-down images of urban landscapes and machinery, shows a 15-minute animation inspired by the geography of Niigata.
It's clear why this is the only car where you have to book a seat. The incredible, immersive installation by Nao Matsumoto takes over generically upholstered chairs, carpet, and curtains and turns them into a touchable, optical art experience.
To find out how you can book your Genbi Shinkansen train experience, see jreast.co.jp. Tickets start at $40.