Shinkansen - High Speed inter-city passenger train in Japan. The Shinkansen is known in the West as the "Bullet Train". Details on Shinkansen network, history, models, pictures and video.

 The first line, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, was opened in 1964. The network has since expanded to link most major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu with running speeds of up to 300 km/h (186mph).


Picture: 700 Series Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka Station

Shinkansen Services

On the most-travelled Tokaido route is Tokyo Osaka, there are three types of Shinkansen, reflecting the number of stops that the train makes:

  • Nozomi - the fastest type of Shinkansen. Japan Rail Pass holders cannot travel on these. All reserved seating.
  • Hikari - the next fastest, still pretty fast.
  • Kodama - makes more stops, and generally only cover small stretches of the Shinkansen lines.

West Bound - Tokaido Route Shinkansen Timetable
East Bound - Tokaido Route Shinkansen Timetable


Picture: Interior of 700 Series Shinkansen. Note the aircraft style seats, but with more leg room. Overhead shelves hold carryon style luggage.

Shinkansen Models

Making a reservation for Shinkansen

On Tokkyu and Shinkansen, some of the carriages require passengers to have reserved their seats in advance. For example, on a typical 16-carriage Shinkansen, only five of the carriages permit non-reserved seating, and only two of those are non-smoking. On a busy train, making a reservation in advance can ensure a comfortable journey.

Boarding Shinkansen
Boarding Shinkansen

Picture: Boarding the 700 Series Shinkansen. Note the safety railing with the carriage doors lining up.

Making a reservation is surprisingly easy, and is strongly advised for popular journeys (such as travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto on a Friday evening, or taking a train from Nagoya to Takayama). Look out for the JR Office at the train station, which bears a little green logo of a figure relaxing in a chair - and ask to make a reservation when you buy your ticket. The reservation can be made anywhere from a month in advance to literally minutes before the train leaves.

If you are a Japan Rail Pass holder, simply go to the JR Office, and present your Rail Pass when requesting a reservation for your journey. The ticket that you are given will not allow you to pass through the automated barriers though - you'll still need to present your Japan Rail Pass at the manned barrier to get to the train.

(Article based on Wikipedia article and used under the GNU Free Documentation License)



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