Condé Nast Traveler is a magazine which was first published in 1987, and over the decades it has become an authority on all things travel-related. The magazine releases their Reader's Choice Awards every year, where thousands of their subscribers participate in a travel-based survey covering numerous topics.
One of those topics is the Best Train Trips in the World, and the 2023 list saw two Japan-based train routes featured – and one of them even took out top spot.
The twenty-strong list saw JR Kyushu's 36 + 3 come in at 15th place, and unlike many of the other entrants on the list this train isn't a sleeper train. Instead, it offers a variety of day trips, exploring destinations like the pottery center of Kami Arita in Saga Prefecture or Kagoshima's active stratovolcano Sakurajima – it's one of Japan's most iconic natural landmarks. This train is a great option for travelers who would prefer to organize their own evening accommodation and pick and choose the day trips that interest them.
Major honors went to Seven Stars Kyushu, which was awarded first place on the prestigious list. This luxurious train ride was praised for having "every inch" designed by Japanese artisans, including everything from the beds to the dinner plates. Other highlights that Conde Nast readers mentioned were the intimate number of passengers (only 20 people are on each journey) and the route feeling like a glimpse into authentic Japan, away from some of the country's more well-traversed tourist spots.
If a luxurious train trip exploring some of Japan's lesser-known gems is on your travel bucket list, take a look at these two Kyushu-based options for your future adventures.