Beyond Speed: Unveiling the Elegance of the Spacia Express

Tobu Spacia X to Nikko

It’s been a long time since I planned a trip to Nikko. However, when a friend who enjoys train travel invited me, we booked a special train and made it happen.

The “Spacia Express” is a special express train heading to Nikko, known for its shrine dedicated to the late Shogunate Tokugawa. The shrine’s unique features have gained popularity among international tourists. Despite being familiar with the delicate beauty of Kyoto’s temples, I found the architectural appeal of this shrine to be quite distinctive during my recent visit. This might be due to the shrine’s tribute to the authenticity and power of the ruling government at the time. Although many temples and shrines are built for this purpose, I believe that Tokugawa, originating from the countryside of Shizuoka, may not have fully grasped the depth of architectural beauty.

Our trip is not solely about appreciating the Nikkor shrine or tasting local food like yuba soba. Instead, we’re excited to ride on a special train with reserved seats at the front and back. These seats provide a luxurious space onboard, along with access to a café area that serves craft beers and coffee.

In Japan, the experience of being served drinks and food on a train is exceptional. Before the widespread use of the Shinkansen express, longer train journeys were common. Express trains typically had a canteen car where passengers could enjoy food and drinks. On overnight express trains, passengers were sometimes granted access to a special lounge car, allowing for more space to stretch out and relax on the long journey.

We took a train early on a Saturday morning from the Asakusa terminal. Initially, the train was only half-filled. However, as it made several stops, it became more populated, though not overly crowded. Given it was spring school vacation, there were more families with children on board, alongside several young couples.

The café in the first car served primarily those with reserved seats. If you didn’t reserve a seat in the first car, you could still place an order after the train’s departure, but you had to return to your car with your food and drinks. So, it’s best to reserve a seat in the first car, which has comfortable sofas, but you should make your reservation early to ensure availability.

The journey from Asakusa to Nikko takes about two hours and is quite pleasant due to the train’s moderate speed and quietness. Recently, there’s a growing trend to appreciate special express trains that offer uniquely designed spaces for a more elegant experience. While the focus used to be solely on speed, it’s now more about enjoying the ride and the unique experiences it offers. Even on the same railway track, different views from different windows can provide entirely different experiences.


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