Some might call it wear and tear, but others would argue it’s history and authenticity.
An era came to an end last October, as the Tokaido Shinkansen ended in-car sales of food and beverages. According to Central Japan Railway Company/JR Tokai, which operates the bullet train line connecting Tokyo and Osaka, the change was prompted by, among other things, an increase in attractive and convenient food/drink takeaway options from vendors in and around the line’s train stations, resulting in more passengers sorting out their snacking and sipping requirements before boarding.
However, as anyone who’s had the pleasure can tell you, there was a certain special satisfaction that came from seeing carts of food and drink being wheeled down the train’s center aisle by JR’s snappily uniformed, politely polished sales staff and being served a delicious katsu sandwich, ice-cold can of beer, or super-hard cup of ice cream. To many travelers, the Shinkansen food carts were symbols of a simple luxury that set the tone for the rest of their vacation, and they were sad to see them go.
But now those who are nostalgic for the Tokaido Shinkansen food carts will have a chance to see them again, and in their own homes.
A total of 50 Shinkansen service carts are being offered for sale by JR Central’s Retailing Plus division. These aren’t replicas, either, but actual food/beverage carts that were used on the bullet trains before their retirement last autumn.
In order to preserve that authenticity, the carts are being offered for sale as-is. JR Central explicitly states that the carts will be “delivered [to buyers] with no cleaning, repainting, repairs, or confirmation of operational status performed,” and that no returns may be made for such related issues.
▼ Those aren’t scratches. They’re history.
Used, possibly dirty and/or broken service carts are definitely a niche product, but given Japan’s large and enthusiastic communities of rail and travel fans, finding 50 buyers probably won’t be a problem. Because of that, the Shinkansen service carts are being offered on a lottery basis here through online marketplace Livepocket Ticket. Applications will be accepted between January 29 and February 5, with winners informed by email by February 7. The carts are priced at 100,000-yen (US$690) yen each, with a limit of two per winner, and it appears that a formal commitment to pay in the case of winning the lottery is required at the time of entry.
Oh, and note that the price includes shipping within Japan, thus sparing you the trouble of having to go pick the cart up, but also the effort of resisting the urge to push it up and down the train while on your way home with it.