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Kaiseki on wheels

For the fortunate few, luxury train offers glimpses of rural Japan in ultimate comfort

The Seven Stars passes through the Kyushu countryside. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

A train trip in provincial Japan is not everyone's idea of a super-exclusive holiday. Japanese railways are generally better known for their ability to move millions of passengers smoothly around a crowded country than pampering a very few.

But a super-exclusive holiday is precisely what is offered by the Seven Stars train on the southern island of Kyushu. It is exclusive in price, at a minimum of 315,000 yen a person for a one-night, two-day trip. And it is exclusive in access -- most places on the 30-berth service are oversubscribed by a ratio of 10 to one, or 60 to one in the top deluxe suite, which sits at the back of the train and offers a panoramic window looking out over the Kyushu countryside.

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