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October 20, 2017 - All aboard the Hokkaido Shinkansen in Gran Class style
Note: This is a non-sponsored blog entry of my experience on the Gran Class of the Hokkaido Shinkansen.
I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Hokkaido on this trip, and part of my trip involved a six-day side trip to Hokkaido. Because of my love of trains, I took the Hokkaido Shinkansen instead of flying. I decided to splurge a little and booked myself a Gran Class seat from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate Hokuto Station.Using my JR East South Hokkaido Pass, I was able to get a small discount as the basic fare was covered by the pass, but the Green Car and Gran Class ticket were all extras which cost me 26,720 Yen. The photos below showcases the absolutely opulence in customer service, hospitality, and comfort. Please consider the Gran Class when you take the Hokkaido, Tohoku, or Hokuriku Shinkansen.
The Gran Class is located at the end of the train at Car 10 (in the case of going to Hokkaido it is at the front). Upon approaching the train, the label on the ground already speaks differences from the other classes.To the top left corner of the entrance is the stylized "G", which is the symbol of Gran Class.
As you enter the train you are introduced to the ultimate opulence. The colour scheme of gold, brown, and neutral tones are extensively used. It defines Japanese sensibilities and tradition without becoming too modern chic and tacky.
The colour scheme continues in the interior cabin as the flooring, wall covering, ceiling, and seats all have a similar colour tone. There are 18 seats in a 2-1 configuration. This allows ample space between the leather seats, and if you are a solo traveler (like myself) then one can take up the single seat for privacy and still have a window view.
Each seat comes with reclining capabilities and leg extensions. There are two trays (cocktail tray and dinner tray) to put drinks or laptop in front of you. Ample space in the front to stretch the legs and put your bags at the same time. Each guest has access to slippers, eye mask, shoe horn, etc for the utmost in comfort.
The exceptional service continues with the meal they provide as part of the ticket. Every guest has complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I chose the Aomori apple juice, which is famous for its sweetness and lack of tartness.
There is an option to not include meals, but if you do, you get a choice of Japanese or Western meal, and a selection of snacks. I chose the Japanese meal which is an ekiben. The ekiben includes rice with small morsels of salted fish, boiled vegetables and yuba in dashi, tamago, beans, and other delicacies. It was honestly one of the best ekiben I have ever had, and the attention to detail and how every item had a different flavour.
A second component are the snacks, where they serve a selection of rice crackers and peanuts, and a slice of apple pound cake. The pound cake was flavourful but a tad greasy, but I didn't mind that at all. The selection of senbei was diverse and all very yummy.
Overall, this was an incredible experience if you love to be pampered and want to experience something few people ever get to do. The Gran Class is only available on the Tohoku, Hokkaido, and Hokuriku Shinkansen.