Genbi Shinkansen: a Train Transformed into a Modern Art Museum


WordsSolenn Cordroc'h


Why not take advantage of a train journey to become initiated into modern art? The Genbi Shinkansen, which can also be described as the fastest artistic experience in the world, serves the city of Niigata from Echigo-Yuzawa, in northern Japan. The idea behind this artistic project, which began in 2016, is to give travellers the opportunity to admire the works of eight modern artists at their leisure, on a train travelling at full speed.

Created specially for the Genbi Shinkansen, the works of art cover the walls of each compartment. In coach 11, the classic layout of a real train actually hides a piece of fabric covered in patterns created by Nao Matsumoto, evoking images of festivals, abundant rice harvests and light. Coach 14, meanwhile, contains photos of K2, a mountain range situated on the China-Pakistan border. Coach 12 is perhaps one of the most surprising for travellers who sit comfortably in leather seats facing a wall of mirrors. As the train travels onwards, the passengers can admire the landscape from all angles as they pass, while they stay perfectly still. And there’s something for children, too: coach 13 has been decorated from floor to ceiling by the duo of Japanese artists Paramodel, with a blueish motif made up of objects in the shape of mountains. Then, once the passengers have had their fill of art, they can go to the café and enjoy drinks and sweet treats like a vanilla cake made from Uonuma rice flour or Sado butter financiers.

Immersed in this art bubble, passengers will almost forget the landscape passing by out of the large windows when onboard the Genbi Shinkansen, which takes them to Niigata in just 50 minutes.

Ticket prices start at 4800 yen.



©Robert Montgomery

©John Osumi