Shinkansen: Japan’s Bullet Train
I’ve experienced travelling on high-speed trains between cities before in Asia. Notably the KTX Korea Train Express in South Korea and the THSR Taiwan High Speed Rail. But Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train really is in a class of its own.
The ‘fastest bullet train’ reputation alone had me in anticipation of an exhilarating journey and I wasn’t disappointed.
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For me, riding the Japanese bullet train was more like travelling on an aircraft than a train, as we accelerated smoothly out of Hakata Station in Fukuoka gaining speed and travelling out of the city and through the Japanese countryside.
The incredible speeds we reached only really felt apparent to me on the bends in the track when you could actually feel slight G-forces on your body. I’ve certainly not experienced that feeling on a train before.
A fantastic experience.
These trains are known for punctuality, safety, speed and efficiency. Passengers can enjoy comfort and amenities, spacious seating, clean facilities, and onboard dining services, as they travel across Japan.
An absolutely must-do experience when visiting and travelling in Japan.
The Shinkansen network connects major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka. But you should know, if you’re planning on a train ride through Japan and travelling between a few different Japanese cities on your trip, then it might work out more cost effective for you to travel the trains using the JR Pass.
JAPANESE RAIL PASS – THE JR PASS
The Japanese Rail Pass is ONLY available to tourists and allows for discounted travel within Japan between cities BUT you have to apply online for your JR Pass before you arrive in Japan. Same is true of the Suica Card for travel WITHIN cities on trains, buses, ferries etc. I’ve written a detailed post on the JR Pass and the Suica Card – how you get them – and the differences between the two HERE.
Shinkansen (新幹線) in Japanese means ‘new trunk line’ or ‘new main line’, but this word is used to describe not only the high-speed trains but railway lines and the rail network, too.
THE FIRST AND FASTEST BULLET TRAIN
The Japan Bullet Train revolutionized train travel in Japan and set the standard for high-speed rail systems worldwide. Not only was the Shinkansen the very first high-speed rail network in the world (debuting in 1964) but, as engineers continued to push the boundaries of high-speed rail travel and bullet train technology, it is now the fastest train on Earth.
HOW FAST IS THE JAPANESE BULLET TRAIN
Travelling at hundreds of km per hour might sound scary, but despite carrying millions of passengers each year, the Shinkansen is also famous for its excellent safety record down to its advanced technology and meticulous safety measures.
The speed of Japanese Bullet Trains, or Shinkansen, can vary depending on the specific line and model of the train. The Tōhoku Shinkansen (Tokyo to Sendai) line trains can reach maximum speeds of around 320 kilometres per hour (200 miles per hour).
5 JAPANESE BULLET TRAIN FACTS
- The concept of the Shinkansen goes back to the 1950s when the first line, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, opened in 1964 in time for the Tokyo Olympics. This marked the debut of the world’s first high-speed rail system.
- The Shinkansen utilizes advanced technology to ensure a smooth, safe, and comfortable ride. This includes advanced signalling systems, electromagnetic suspension, and aerodynamic designs to reduce noise and wind resistance.
- The Shinkansen train uses superconducting maglev (short for magnetic levitation) to achieve these incredible speeds. As the train leaves the station it’s rolling on wheels. But as it speeds up, the wheels retract, and the power of magnets allows the vehicle to hover four inches above the ground.
- Shinkansen trains are punctual to the minute. Delays of even a minute or two are considered noteworthy and the schedule is so precise it has a reputation for being one of the world’s most punctual train systems.
- The Shinkansen is seen as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation compared to other options like domestic flights or cars, as it produces fewer carbon emissions per passenger-kilometre.
To Conclude: The Japan Bullet Train is not only an essential part of the country’s transportation system but also a symbol of technological innovation and efficiency. It has inspired high-speed rail projects in many countries and continues to be a source of pride for Japan. I can only imagine, coming from the UK, how amazing it would be to one day have this kind of fast and efficient rail network in the West!
Are you planning a trip to Japan?
Which cities in Japan are on your travel wish list?
Will you be travelling by Shinkansen Bullet Train?
Let me know! Leave a comment or send me a message?
I’d love to hear from you.
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