If we can revere technology and the marvel of engineering, Japan triumphs over it. The new needle-nosed bullet train of Japan called "Shinkansen" which literally means "New Trunk Line" or Super Express has garnered a lot of attention.
Operated by Japan Railways (JR) Group Companies, this train is recommended for any long-distance, be it between Tokyo and Kyoto or Osaka, Hokkaido to Kagoshima, Shinkansen covers most of Japan. A mesmerizing experience to watch all the coveted destinations of Japan on this journey makes it a more attractive proposition.
The speed of the train is a maximum of 320 km/hour or 199 mph. So, 500 km can be traveled in 2 to 2.5 hours surprisingly. Quite spacious and luxurious, one can relax around and bask in the glory of nature. Also, free Wifi is available on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu lines. The train is famous for its speed, reliability, and safety.
History & Evolution of Shinkansen Trains
The first line, Tokaido Shinkansen, was from Tokyo to Osaka and opened in 1964. The trains ran up to a speed of 200 km/hour and the second generation was introduced around 1972 with a speed of 300km/hour. The first Shinkansen to the north of the country started in 1982 connecting Tokyo to Morioka and later Aomori, Joetsu to Niigata. Around 1997, the Hokuriku Shinkansen line started between Takasaki and Nagano. The project also involves the Hokkaido line from Aomori to Hakodate, having an extension to Sapporo scheduled for 2030. The speed has now evolved to 320 km/hour and the Shinkansen line entails fast semi-fast and local trains.
Sights To See On The Journey Via Shinkansen Trains
One can view the enchanting locations which Shinkansen trains cover on their journey
Attracting thousands of visitors for being the tallest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji is around 3776 meters in height. Known for its symmetrical shape and snow-capped summit in winter, this mountain is a view to go gaga over while the train surpasses it. It can be seen while traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto.
As one travels to Kyoto, Mt Fuji is located on the right side, and while traveling to Tokyo, one can view it on the left side. It is deemed E seats are quite recommended for this view. From Tokyo Station, Mount Fuji arrives after 40 minutes and the view persists for 10 minutes. From Kyoto Station, it arrives after 85 minutes but the view persists merely for 3 minutes.
A majestic castle constructed during the early Ado period with a blissful white exterior representing the bird, Shirasagi in Japan is one of the iconic castles of Japan. Between Kobe and Okayama, this jaw-dropping castle is visible on the Shinkansen journey. As one travels from Kobe towards Okayama, it is located on the right side and on the left side in the direction of Kobe.
Easy Access to Ski Slopes In Yuzawa
Yuzawa, one of the best ski resorts in Japan, can now be directly accessed by Shinkansen. One can access the ski slopes from Tokyo within 1.5 hours meanwhile, the station is also directly connected to the gondola, reducing the inconvenience.
Also, people with a foreign passport can have the liberty to travel for three days unlimited by Shinkansen if they purchase the Tokyo Wide Pass. With this pass, one can avail of the discount on the ski lift pass as well.
The Secret Ghibli Spot
If you have seen the movie My Neighbour Totoro by Ghibli studios, it is said that you will be able to spot Totoro in the forest during your journey. While traveling to Kyoto, Totora is visible on the left side before Maibara station. While traveling to Kyoto, Totora will be visible on the right side.
Things to Do On The Journey via Shinkansen
If you are familiar with a bento box, a home-packed meal of Japanese origin, then Ekiben is a special lunch box that people can carry on trains. "Eki" means station and "ben" means Bento (lunch box).
At the gate of Tokaido Shinkansen, one can buy all types of Ekiben from the shops such as Ekiben Matsuri, Ekiben Odori, Ekibenya. The USP of this bento box lies in the train-shaped box of Shinkansen which can be saved and reused.
On and off the Shinkansen
As the trains are connected from Hokkaido to Kagoshima, there are fun activities galore. One can step down at Mount Fuji and enjoy the area near Mount Fuji. Also, International travelers can purchase the Japan Rail Pass with which they can travel free for a certain amount of time on all Shinkansen except Nozomi and JR trains.
Check Out Themed Shinkansen!
It is just not a means to travel but it's also a fun activity. This experience is certainly a thrill as they are fun-themed Shinkansens too.
A bullet train with pink as its paint all over, this Kitty-themed Shinkansen train connects Fukuoka to the Shin Osaka route. There are carriages that have kitty merchandise, kitty-themed flooring, seats, and window shades. The trip between Osaka and Fukuoka lasts for around 4.5 hours and costs ¥15,280 for a reserved seat and ¥14,750 for an unreserved seat.
Doctor Yellow Shinkansen
It is deemed that spotting this yellow train is a lucky sign and the schedule for it has never been made public. These trains have special monitoring techniques to keep a check on the condition of tracks and overhead wires. It is called Doctor Train because it deals with diagnostic functions and operates at a speed of 270 km/hour.
With all such unique and marvelous features, this train is not solely for traveling but to experience something beyond it.