The Shinkansen known colloquially in English as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed rail lines in Japan. Initially, it was built to connect distant Japanese regions with Tokyo, the capital, to help economic growth and development.
It is operated by five companies of the Japan Railways Group.
High-speed trains "shinkansen" are the fastest way to discover all of Japan, reaching a speed of 320 km / h (199 mph). The Japan Railways (JR) network, which can be accessed through the Japan Rail Pass, covers virtually the entire country, with the addition of the new Hokkaido Shinkansen and the popular Tokaido Shinkansen.
The nine Shinkansen lines carry different directions around Japan. From Tokyo to the south, runs the Tokaido Shinkansen line, which connects Tokyo with Osaka.
The Sanyo Shinkansen line connects Osaka with Fukuoka and, from there, the Kyushu Shinkansen line crosses the island of Kyushu from north to south.
The other six lines lead north or into Tokyo. These are the Akita, Hokuriku, Joetsu, Tohoku, Yamagata Shinkansen lines. Finally, the Hokkaido line leads north, the island of Hokkaido.
Tokyo (stations of Tokyo and Shinagawa) and Osaka (station of Shin-Osaka) are connected to each other by JR Tokaido Shinkansen. There are three types of shinkansen that can be addressed.
The "Nozomi" trains require approximately 155 minutes to reach the Shin-Osaka station from Tokyo, the "Hikari" trains for about three hours and the "Kodama" trains for about four hours.
The regular one-way fare is 13,620 yen per non-reserved seat on any train and around 14,200 yen per reserved seat on the Hikari or Kodama trains and around 14,500 yen per reserved seat on a Nozomi train. The 7-day Japan Rail Pass costs approximately the same as regular round-trip tickets. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on Hikari and Kodama trains, but not on Nozomi trains.
Classes of seat:
Most shinkansen trains in Japan offer seats in two classes, which are usually found in separate cars:
As its name implies, ordinary seats are the normal seats found on all Shinkansen trains. Although the size and footwell of ordinary seats vary between train sets, the common seats in shinkansen are generally comfortable and offer a generous amount of foot space. Usually, they come in rows of 3 + 2 seats.
Compared to the executive class on airplanes, the Green Car offers larger and more comfortable seats than ordinary seats and offers more foot space. The seats are arranged in rows of 2 + 2 seats. The Green Car tend to be less full than the ordinary ones.
Approximate Shinkansen fares from Tokyo station (One way):
Tokyo - Shin Fuji: ¥ 5590
Tokyo - Nagoya: ¥ 10880
Tokyo - Kyoto: ¥ 13600
Tokyo - Shin Osaka: ¥ 14140
Tokyo - Shin Kobe: ¥ 14680
Tokyo - Hiroshima: ¥ 18560
Buy a Shinkansen ticket at a ticket machine:
The selected ticketing machines can be used to buy shinkansen tickets. Most of them offer menus in English. Some machines sell only non-reserved seats, while others can also be used to make seat reservations. Although ticket vending machines can be very useful if you know how to use them, the process of buying Shinkansen tickets is not always easy and some machines do not accept credit cards issued outside of Japan. Keep in mind that Rail Pass users cannot use ticket vending machines to make seat reservations.
Buy a Shinkansen ticket at the box office:
In case you want to buy the ticket directly at the ticket office and the Japanese language is not spoken, it is recommended to write the following information in English with legible handwriting, this will make the purchase much faster and avoid misunderstandings:
・Number of travelers
・Date of travel
・Ordinary or Green Car
・Reserved or not reserved seat
・Benefits of the Shinkansen:
Above all, the Shinkansen has a remarkable safety record. The Shinkansen has operated for 50 years, more than 18,000 days, without a single passenger victim. This is a testament to the unwavering attention to quality in the development of technology and the great efforts of safety in the operation by all the personnel involved, from the train operators to the engineers who maintain the trains, the tracks and the other equipment.
Reliability is another achievement of the Shinkansen, which is famous for its timely service. The system is compatible with all types of hardware and administrative systems, including specially designed high-speed rail tracks, Automatic train control (ATC) and automatic train schedule management, to ensure trains run on time. A careful combination of hardware and software allows this equipment, combined with the technical skills of the operators, to control the trains up to the second and guarantee the accuracy and reliability in the operation. As a result, this system makes it possible for trains to operate at such short intervals of three minutes, without delays in schedules, with an average duration of less than one minute.
If is wanted to travel comfortably and quickly, the Shinkansen is the best way to move around the different regions of Japan.