Japan’s “Invisible Train” Will Hit the Tracks in 2018

Japan is making a bullet train with an exterior that blends almost perfectly with the surrounding environment.

4. 14. 16 by Kathleen Riley
Seibu Railway Co.
Image by Seibu Railway Co.

Japan’s New And Improved Bullet Train

If you aren’t already aware, Japan knows how to design and build trains. Take their “Shinkansen”trains, for example, which bolt across the Earth reaching tops speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). The country even went as far as to develop a levitating bullet train, dubbed  the “Maglev train,” which set record speeds by reaching 580 km/h (360 mph) since its induction two years ago.

So it’s absolutely no surprise to hear that Japan is currently looking to build an “invisible” train.

Seibu Railway Co. already has a running train. But they’ve hired architect Kazuyo Sejima, a Pritzker Prize laureate, to redo the entire exterior and interior of their Red Arrow express commuter train. Sejima wants to make the entire exterior nearly transparent, and all of this hype is for commemorating their 100th year anniversary.

The train itself won’t be cloaked in invisibility, but the architects behind the work assert that it will blend into its immediate surroundings via the remarkably reflective mirrored surface.


“The limited express travels in a variety of different sceneries, from the mountains of Chichibu to the middle of Tokyo, and I thought it would be good if the train could gently co-exist with this variety of scenery,” remarked Sejima during a press conference last week.

Although not a lot of info has been given about the train’s makeover, we’ve heard that that its exterior will be replaced with semi-transparent and mirrored panels, and its overall shape will transform from box-like to bullet-shaped.

The Pursuit of Invisibility

Japan isn’t the only one pursuing the invisibility trend.

Land Rover announced the release of its “Transparent Bonnet” at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, which is essentially a cloaking device that allows you to see through the hood of your car.


Again, the car is not actually invisible. The whole thing works via cameras mounted into the grill of the vehicle, capturing what’s going on under the hood. The video is relayed back up and projected onto the windshield, so you’ll no longer have to worry about what’s hiding under your car (though not sure if that’s really a common concern).

In any case, with this trend towards invisible vehicles, it does leave one wondering what will come next.

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