Known in the West as the “Bullet Train”, the Shinkansen is a high speed inter city train service in Japan. The bullet train first started operating on October 1st 1964 as part of the new infrastructure for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 .
The ride on the bullet train (Shinkansen) is more like an airplane without the hassle of traveling to an airport and going through security. The advantage for many trips on the bullet train is that you start and end right in the middle of the cities. The total travel time between Tokyo and Osaka or Kyoto is similar to flying. Cost wise the bullet train used to be similar to flying within Japan, but with the arrival of discount domestic airlines has meant the ticket prices for flying is cheaper. For trips between cities such as Tokyo and Osaka or Kyoto, the total cost is closer as there are significant transit costs to the airports at both ends. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing the Japan Rail Pass, which can significantly reduce the cost of travel.