Apr 14, 2016 I Paul Seaburn

Invisible Trains May (Or May Not) Be Seen in Japan in 2018

Invisible trains are coming … what could possibly go wrong?

Japan’s Seibu Group, the 100-year-old maker of high-speed bullet trains, thinks “not much,” which is why the company hired renowned architect Kazuyo Sejima to design an invisible train that is scheduled to be on schedule in Japanese train stations in 2018.

Isn’t a bullet train already too fast to see? You must live in the U.S. The Seibu Group is known for its brightly-colored yellow, blue and grey trains seen on routes in and around Tokyo. One of them, the Red Arrow commuter train, will be given the “invisible touch” to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday.

If they want the train to disappear, why didn’t they hire that magician who made the Statue of Liberty disappear? David Copperfield? They probably couldn’t afford him. Kazuyo Sejima is a Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate (the Nobel Prize for architects). Seibu wants her to make the exterior of the train “blend into the landscape” and the interior, which she’s also designing, to be like a “living room.” Besides, David Copperfield wouldn’t tell you how he did it.

invisible train 570x356
The "invisible train"

So how is Kazuyo Sejima going to do it? Smoke and mirrors, heavy on the mirrors. The current hard lines of the cars will be rounded and given a semi-transparent cover. All visible surfaces will be mirrored and the engine will be given a bullet look. The mirrors will reflect the landscape around the train, making it blend into its surroundings and “disappear.”


In the picture, you can still see the wheels and the tracks. Maybe they should have spent the money and gone with David Copperfield. The Red Arrow commuter train is not a high-speed mag-lev bullet but a more conventional train, so the wheels need to be out in the open for safety and maintenance. But the sides are still invisible … kind of. And you wouldn't want to make the tracks invisible too … that would be cool, but dangerous.

Speaking of danger, what about all of the birds that will be flying into this train that looks like it’s covered with trees and birds? You forgot the smashed bugs too. A bigger problem may be fingerprints. Is there enough window cleaner in Japan to keep the invisible train invisible? Well, they’ve got until 2018 to figure it out.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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