Within Japan’s high-speed Shinkansen bullet train network, Gran Class stands as the ultra-luxe cabin.
In general, a Shinkansen train consists of a sole Gran Class car, alongside the many standard and Green Class cars. Gran Class in particular goes beyond the Green Class cabins, offering a luxurious setting akin to First Class on an airplane.
On this trip to Japan, I was keen to experience the premier First Class Shinkansen service on a trip from Hokkaido to Tokyo.
JR Shinkansen Gran Class – Booking
I locked in a reservation on the Tohoku Shinkansen for a total of ¥40,680 ($280 USD, $380 CAD), covering the travel between Hakodate – the southernmost city on the island of Hokkaido – to Tokyo.
This fare is in line with the standard rate for the Gran Class experience on this particular route. In the future, this line will be extended north from Hakodate to connect to Niseko and Sapporo directly.
In the meantime, I took a series of local trains from Niseko Station across the Hokkaido countryside to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station to begin my journey.
In addition to the Tohoku Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo to Hokkaido, Gran Class is also available on the Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines, which connect Tokyo to Kanazawa and Niigata, respectively.
JR Shinkansen Gran Class – Cabin
Upon my arrival at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, a spacious and contemporary turquoise-coloured train – the schemes associated with Japan’s Tohoku region – gradually came to a stop before me.
Indicators visibly marking the Gran Class were present on both the platform floor and train doors, with the Gran Class section located in Car 10.
As I stepped inside the train, a courteous attendant promptly led me to my designated seat.
There are 18 seats spread across six rows in a 1-2 configuration in JR Shinkansen Gran Class. The cabin is lavishly appointed, characterized by a colour palette of gold, brown, and neutral tones that exude luxury while subtly embracing Japanese tradition.
Softly illuminated, the cabin features guiding lights along the ceiling and windows to lead you gracefully through the walkway, paired beautifully with a deep red carpet.