Kyushu on the Rails of Luxury #03

FEATURE

Seven Stars in Kyushu.
Five Stars for Creativity.

An elegant interior that merges technique with passion.

The uniqueness of the Seven Stars in Kyushu experience lies in the train’s interior, which represents an extreme attention to detail. JR Kyushu went to a lot of trouble to procure the best wood and distinctive fabrics to complete the experience.

The eye-catching latticework in every car is a genuine example of Japanese craftsmanship. The decorative geometric patterns are the result of kumiko wood joinery, which artisans assemble without nails or screws. Each joint comes together with the precision that only skilled craftsmen can achieve through the use of chisels, saws, and planes to carve mortises and tenons. The technique found its way to Japan from China during the Asuka Period as part of the construction of temples and shrines. Fukuoka’s Okawa City reigns supreme when it comes to kumiko wood joinery, and the Okawa Kumiko displayed in Seven Stars in Kyushu contributes to the luxury experience. One will see it on the shoji screens and window frames, as well as the entrance to the Blue Moon lounge car.

On board, the interior boasts Okawa Kumiko latticework throughout the train, setting the traditional tone for the line.

Passengers can take Okawa Kumiko classes from Kinoshita. The final product being souvenir coasters.

On board, the interior boasts Okawa Kumiko latticework throughout the train, setting the traditional tone for the line.

Passengers can take Okawa Kumiko classes from Kinoshita. The final product being souvenir coasters.

Early afternoon approaches toward the end of our one-night, two-day jaunt, and the train makes a special stop allowing a man to board. The Okawa Kumiko craftsman, Masato Kinoshita. Kinoshita is the master responsible for the Seven Stars in Kyushu project. He spent many grueling months working to compose this exquisite light and dark geometric patterned concert that captivates passengers and sets the luxury tone of the line.

“Unlike a residence, trains rock back and forth. Since this is a sleeper train, it was important to eliminate noise. However, if the joints are so tight that they don’t move, passengers can’t open and close the shoji. This is the dilemma that kept me up at night,” says Kinoshita.

Kinoshita admits that he initially turned the work down. However, Mitooka appealed to the artist and innovator within him, igniting a flame that inspired his spirit as a craftsman. It was a simple statement explaining that if he didn’t attempt it, he would never do anything new. He’d never know if it was possible to do something no one else had done.

The wooden patterns of Okawa Kumiko are the pinnacle of detail, made by joining wooden pieces that are often no more than a few millimeters thick. The tools of this craft are surgical, allowing for minute adjustments as little as 0.01 millimeters.

Kinoshita’s charm and candid personality come through as he discusses the challenges he faced on this project even as a top-tier craftsman. www.cruisetrain-sevenstars.com

Kinoshita’s charm and candid personality come through as he discusses the challenges he faced on this project even as a top-tier craftsman. www.cruisetrain-sevenstars.com

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