The Sunrise Seto: A Journey Through Japan’s Night

As dusk fades to darkness in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, a train named the Sunrise Seto quietly departs, embarking on its nocturnal journey to Takamatsu. For me, a professor who has journeyed countless times upon this train, the Sunrise Seto is more than mere transportation; it is a cultural treasure of Japan, a symbol of a bygone era of railway travel.

In days past, Japan’s network of sleeper trains—like the Galaxy connecting Tokyo and Osaka, the Hokuriku between Ueno and Kanazawa, and the Cassiopeia up to Sapporo—wove dreams between cities under cover of night. They were the vessels of adventure, encapsulating the romance of travel. Yet, the relentless march of time and the advent of high-speed trains and airplanes, coupled with the proliferation of comfortable hotels, have all but eclipsed these nocturnal voyages.

However, the Sunrise Seto continues to uphold this legacy. Its ritual separation and coupling with the Sunrise Izumo at Okayama Station is a poignant reminder of the bonds it forms—not only between the distant cities but also between the people whose journeys it facilitates. For many Japanese, and indeed for visitors from abroad, these trains represent not the end of a day but the start of a new adventure.

The private cabin, as seen in the attached photo, is a sanctuary of tranquility and repose. The wood-paneled interiors and warm lighting invite a peaceful slumber, while the passing landscapes outside the window paint a living tapestry of Japan’s rich natural and urban beauty. The train weaves slowly through the night, crafting indelible memories.

A journey on the Sunrise Seto transcends the mere act of travel from point A to B. It offers a reflective pause, an intimate encounter with Japan’s landscape, and a precious slice of time that seems almost suspended from reality. This is a space where cities, individuals, past, and future are connected, each lending profound meaning to the journey.

The experience aboard the Sunrise Seto is a splendid opportunity to immerse oneself in Japan’s delicate aesthetic and masterful craftsmanship. The subtleties often overlooked in our daily lives, the fleeting moments of gratitude, come alive on this journey.

Through this unique mode of travel, I hope you can perceive the depth of Japan’s rich history and culture and the warmth of its people. Even as times change, the stories woven by the Sunrise Seto will continue to be cherished and retold. And always, the journey sketches new vistas in our hearts.

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