Japan’s invisible trains will take off in 2018

Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima designs trains with a reflective surface that mirrors the surrounding scenery.
Invisible train

Japanese railway network developer, The Seibu Group commissioned Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kazuyo Sejima to create a set of special edition trains in light of its 100th anniversary. Known for using reflective surfaces that blur the line between nature and manmade infrastructure, Sejima has redesigned Seibu Railway's Red Arrow express trains so that the machinery blends into the surrounding countryside.

Set to hit the railway tracks in 2018, the fleet of seven trains will be covered in a reflective surface that will mirror back the passing rural and urban environment along the 110-mile line through Japan. Travelling at a speed of 360 miles per hour with a reflective shell will create a camouflage effect that will make the trains hard to spot, and almost invisible to the human eye.

The project will be Sejima’s inauguration into train design but she has applied her signature architectural style to the mobile structures. Her Le Louvre-Lens Museum in France, disguised in shiny reflective metals, is one such example of her fascination with transparent buildings.

While a lot of attention was paid to the train’s exterior design, Sejima remarks that she would “also would like it to be a limited express where large numbers of people can all relax in comfort, in their own way, like a living room, so that they think to themselves 'I look forward to riding that train again.'"