Japan is using bullet trains for more than just travel

Japan continues to leverage bullet trains as an entertainment venue to strong success.
Golden Week begins in Japan
Golden Week begins in Japan / Anadolu/GettyImages

High-speed rail is a continued discussion point in the United States. Plans are coming together for the first project and moving forward with fulfilling a travel need residents have long requested. But over in Japan, the bullet train service there is far ahead of the game, even offering top-of-the-line events for customers.

Back in September 2023, Central Japan Railway hosted an event by a major Japanese wrestling organization, DDT Pro-Wrestling. This show featured only one match, as wrestling legend Minoru Suzuki took on Sanshiro Takagi in a Falls-Count Anywhere Match. This is a match where the action doesn’t have to take place in a ring. In this case, it was on a bullet train with 75 people in attendance. Tickets were priced at 25,000 yen which is approximately $161 USD. The event sold out in about 30 minutes.

As professional wrestling experiences a boom in North America thanks to the WWE and All Elite Wrestling, fans shouldn’t expect to see the top names of those promotions battling on a train any time soon. But this does represent another way that Japan is leveraging these high-speed trains in a fashion that is well beyond the reach of America.

Another example occurred in March 2024, when customers were able to experience a fine-dining event from Tokyo to Nagoya. These tickets were priced at 55,000 yen, which runs about $353 USD.

In America, the entertainment industry is continuing to find new ways to attract fans. This is especially true as prices continue to rise across the board, making some experiences too expensive for the masses. If a high-speed railway is truly constructed and runs without issue, this would be another interesting avenue to emulate. Imagine a train traveling from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, offering exclusive seating for a show featuring one of the top musical talents of the day. Customers would certainly pay for that, especially as people battle to look as influential and “in” as possible.

“We want to continue creating experiences that meet the ‘nozomi’ [expectations] of customers,” a JR Central official said. “It seems enjoying the journey itself fills the void left by dwindling enthusiasm for travel during the pandemic.”

The United States may be a long way away from its first high-speed railway connecting major entertainment hubs around the country. But once those lines are complete, these trains will become another form of entertainment travel.