Inside a $10K Luxury Train Ride Across Japan

Courtesy East Japan Railway Company
Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

If you’ve got a lot of time and don’t care much about comfort, you can get across Japan for less than $30 a day. But if that’s not quite your style, there is a far better—and far pricier—alternative. You could shell out $10,000 for a luxury sleeper train that will take you across the country in true comfort.

As Mashable reports, the East Japan Railway Company’s Train Suite Shiki-Shima began making voyages on May 1, and its passengers have been riding in high style ever since. The train offers 17 double-occupancy cabins, with a lounge car, a dining room, and two observatory cars.

The trip "offers you a prime view of Japan’s rich, beautiful natural scenery, the local industries of each region and the unique culture that permeates Japanese people’s daily lives," according to the railway’s website.

The seasonal trips are two, three, or four days long and cover 620 to 1120 miles in total, with all meals included, with daily sightseeing trips. The food aboard the train is coordinated with the destinations out the window, so you eat dishes prepared by local chefs featuring ingredients from the region.

The Shiki-Shima luxury suite, pictured here, has two levels.STR/AFP/Getty Images

The elite trips come at a cost: A three-day, two-night trip staying in the train’s fanciest cabin, the Shiki-Shima Suite, costs more than $9300 for a single passenger, and around $6200 per person for a couple. The same trip costs almost $4500 per person for the lowest-level double-occupancy cabin.

Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

Courtesy East Japan Railway Company

Tickets are already sold out until March 2018, but you can keep an eye out for openings on the East Japan Railway website. You'll have to submit an application for tickets, and if there is more interest than there are tickets, winners will be chosen by lottery.

[h/t Mashable]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Meet Ian Brackenbury Channell—the Official City Wizard of Christchurch, New Zealand

In Christchurch, New Zealand, wizards ride buses, not brooms.
In Christchurch, New Zealand, wizards ride buses, not brooms.

Gandalf and Saruman aren't the only wizards New Zealand can claim. The city of Christchurch has employed its own official wizard for more than 20 years, and as CNN Travel reports, he's preparing to pass off his staff to a wizarding apprentice.

Ian Brackenbury Channell has been dressing up as a wizard for decades. Though originally from the UK, his career in academia brought him to the Universities of New South Wales and Melbourne in Australia. He assumed his magical role, simply titled "The Wizard," at both institutions. Responses to the character varied, but he finally found a permanent home for the act in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Brackenbury Channell had been living in Christchurch for 24 years when the city offered him an official wizarding contract in 1998. His new role would require him to "provide acts of wizardry and other wizard-like-services as part of promotional work for the city of Christchurch." Every year since, The Wizard has collected an annual salary of 16,000 New Zealand dollars, or $10,400 USD, from the government.

At age 87, Brackenbury Channell is spending less time in the spotlight and looking for an aspiring wizard to take over the job. Musician Ari Freeman, 39, threw his pointed hat in the ring several years ago when he introduced himself as a young wizard. He's been training as his apprentice ever since.

Freeman already sports a long beard that would make Merlin proud, but the role of official wizard goes beyond looking the part. Other duties include promoting local events, welcoming foreign dignitaries, and rambling in Cathedral Square. The Christchurch City Council for "wizardry," which manages the position, hasn't stated whether it plans to extend the contract to Freeman.

[h/t CNN Travel]