“Hokutosei” Sleeper Revived as Lodgings

Society Travel Guide to Japan

Hokuto, Hokkaido, July 21 (Jiji Press)--“Hokutosei,” a popular sleeper train that used to link Tokyo and the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, has made a fresh start as a lodging facility, thanks to a crowd-funding initiative by locals in the Hokkaido city of Hokuto.

Inspired by the resemblance between the names of the train and the city, Michitoshi Sawada, 42, a member of the youth division of the Hokuto City Society of Commerce and Industry, and two others launched in 2016 a crowd-funding campaign for saving Hokutosei, which was set to be scrapped.

The train, which derived its name from “Hokutoshichisei,” or the Big Dipper, started operations in 1988, when the undersea Seikan Tunnel linking Hokkaido and the Honshu main island of Japan opened. It traveled between Ueno Station in Tokyo and Sapporo Station in the Hokkaido capital of Sapporo.

Hokutosei ended its regular service in March 2015, ahead of the start later that month of the Hokkaido Shinkansen bullet train line between Tokyo and Hokkaido.

Raising a total of approximately 16 million yen from over 800 people through the crowd-funding scheme, Sawada and his partners purchased two Hokutosei cars from Hokkaido Railway Co., or JR Hokkaido, and exhibited them at a square in Hokuto in 2017.

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