The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 3 November 2016

Image: Getty Images

Sleep on it

Japan’s fleet of long-distance sleeper trains, known as Blue Trains, used to crisscross the country. But with the arrival of the Shinkansen, night trains became less viable and the last of the Blue Trains, the Hokutosei (Northern Star), which ran between Ueno and Sapporo, was retired in 2015. Its legacy, however, lives on: the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is putting the much-loved old train to good use by recycling its interior for a new budget hotel in Bakurocho, central Tokyo. Train Hostel Hokutosei will have 78 beds and connect directly to Bakurocho Station. The hotel will open in December and prices start at an unusually low ¥2,500 (€22) per night. That’s not all: JR East is also planning to launch a seven-storey capsule hotel exclusively for women, just one minute away from Kanda Station.

Image: Douglas Lander/Alamy

Art autonomy

Bermuda may be better known for its pink-sand beaches and, with the arrival of the Americas Cup next year, its sailing but it’s also home to a budding art scene. While some of the more famous Bermudian art has focused on the island’s iconic painted houses and lime-washed roofs there is also a body of more testing and avant garde work out there – much of it currently on show at the Bermuda National Gallery as part of its 2016 biennial, which runs until 26 November. One of the most exciting talents is poet and artist Alan Smith and his self-portrait and video-installation series “30 days w/0”. “I used to get other people to do posters for my [poetry] performances but I was never happy with them,” he says. “So I took a camera and started doing them myself.”

Image: Getty images

Large wingspan

The 69th edition of the annual National Business Aviation Association convention is in full flight. The sixth-largest trade show of any kind in the US sees about 1,100 exhibitors and 27,000 industry insiders flock to Orlando, Florida, to talk shop about jets, helicopters and all aircraft in between. Everything a business needs to know to build, kit-out and maintain a plane is showcased here, from seat upholstery to in-air ambulance services. One of the main draws this year is the Bombardier stand. The Montréal-based juggernaut is a leading player in business aviation and, with a life-size mockup of its nifty 34-metre Global 7000 jet in the background, the company unveiled rosy results for 2016: it has thus far delivered a whopping 109 business jets and is expecting to top 150 deliveries by year-end – all good signs for a stellar 2017.

World building

At this year’s Singapore Writers Festival (4 to 13 November) author Clara Chow will premiere her debut novel Dream Storeys, which came about from interviews with 12 of the nation’s top architects, including veteran Nirmal Kishnani and Joshua Comaroff of Lekker Architects, in which she asked what they would build had they no budgetary, bureaucratic or technological constraints. The interviews inspired nine short stories set within the idealised buildings. “These are independent architects who actually make a difference to how the city looks and how they want the country to be,” says Chow. In a city that changes so quickly Chow’s book encourages readers to engage with their surroundings. “I felt that I didn’t really have a say in how my environment was changing,” she adds. “To me the project was my little act of resistance, my own imaginary piece of Singapore.”

From Monocle 24

Castore

Two twenty-something brothers are on a mission to create the world’s first truly premium sportswear brand for men. Castore’s Tom and Phil Beahon share their game plan.

From Monocle Films

Film report: Milan menswear fall-winter 2016

When it comes to menswear it’s a good idea to follow the Italians’ lead. Monocle Films visits the showrooms and presentations of the leading industry players at Milan’s 2016 Fashion Week to find out what men will be wearing this autumn.

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