Hello, this is TORA.

Otherwise known as ”Bullet Train” in English,
the high-speed railway in Japan is called ”SHINKANSEN”.

This is a bit abrupt, but do you like Shinkansen?


Would you like to get on it?
Personally, I want to get on Hokkaido Shinkansen H5 series and E5 series (Hayabusa, Hayate)!
But I am not as obsessed with them as train manias.

This time, I would like to talk about Shinkansen, the train not only popular among Japanese people of all ages, but also among foreigners.

The history of Shinkansen

It has been half a century since its introduction.
On October 1st, 1964, Tokaido Shinkansen’s first train traveled from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka with a top speed of 210 kilometers per hour.
In the 1930’s, Japan’s ministry of railways established a ”Trunk railway investigation committee”, from which emerged the ”super-high speed train project”.

The gist of the project was to connect Tokyo and Osaka in 4 hours, and Tokyo and Fukuoka in 10 hours, with a train that can run as fast as 200 kilometers per hours.
And because this meant establishing a new trunk line, the train was initially called ”Shin (new) kansen (trunk line)” by the authorities.

JR group owned by Shinkansen

JR Hokkaido

  • Hokkaido Shinkansen

JR East Japan

  • Tohoku Shinkansen
  • Akita Shinkansen
  • Yamagata Shinkansen
  • Joetsu Shinkansen
  • Hokuriku Shinkansen

JR Tokai

  • Tokaido Shinkansen (extended to the Sanyo Shinkansen area)

JR West Japan

  • Sanyo Shinkansen (extended to the Tokaido Shinkansen area and Kyushu Shinkansen area)

JR Kyushu

  • Kyushu Shinkansen (extended to Sanyo Shinkansen area)

Trains and series

  • 1964: 0 series
  • 1982: 200 series
  • 1985: 100 series
  • 1992: 300 – 400 series
  • 1994: E1 series
  • 1997: 500 series – E2 series – E3 series – E4 series
  • 1999: 700 series
  • 2004: 800 series
  • 2007: N700 series
  • 2011: E5 series / H5 series
  • 2013: E13 series
  • 2013: N700A
  • 2014: E7 series, W7 series

2 storey-vehicles

  • Some of the 100 series and 200 series of vehicles, and all of E1 type and E4 type vehicles are two stories.

Nickname for Shinkansen

      • Hayabusa (E5 series)

    Tokyo – Shin Aomori, fastest train.

      • Hayate (E2 series, E5 series)

    Tokyo – Shin Aomori, express train.

      • Yamabiko (E2 series, E5 series)

    Tokyo – Sendai / Morioka, semi express train

      • Nasuno (E2 series, E5 series)

    Tokyo – Nasushiobara / Koriyama, local stopping train

      • Super Komachi (E6 series)

    Tokyo – Akita. Runs 300 km/h on Tohoku Shinkansen

      • Komachi (E3 series)

    Tokyo – Akita. Runs 275 km/h on Tohoku Shinkansen

      • Tsubasa (E3 series)

    Tokyo – Yamagata

      • Max Toki / Toki (E4 type, E2 type)

    Tokyo – Niigata. Max Toki is a two-storey E4 series vehicle. Toki is E2 series.

      • Max Tanigawa / Tanigawa (E4 series, E2 series)

    Tokyo – Takasaki / Echigo Yuzawa, short distance train. Max Tanigawa is a two-storey E4 vehicle, and Tanigawa is an E2 series vehicle.

      • Kagayaki (E7 series)

    Tokyo – Kanazawa, express train.

      • Hakutaka (E7 series)

    Tokyo – Kanazawa, stopping train.

      • Tsurugi (E7 series)

    Toyama – Kanazawa, shuttle train.

      • Asama (E2 series)

    Tokyo – Nagano, current Nagano Shinkansen type

      • Nozomi (N700 series)

    Tokyo – Shin Osaka (Tokaido) Shin Osaka – Hakata (Sanyo) Fastest reaching train.

      • Hikari / Hikari Rail Star (700 series, N700 series)

    Tokyo – Shin Osaka (Tokaido) Shin Osaka – Hakata (Sanyo) express train.

      • Kodama (700 series, N700 series, 500 series)

    Tokyo – Shin Osaka (Tokaido) Shin Osaka – Hakata (Sanyo) Local stopping train.

      • Mizuho (N 700 series)

    Shin Osaka – Kagoshima Chuo, express train. Sanyo Shinkansen direct line.

      • Sakura (N 700 series, 800 series)

    Shin Osaka – Kagoshima Chuo, express train. Sanyo Shinkansen direct line.

      • Tsubame (800 series, N 700 series)

    Hakata – Kagoshima Chuo, local stopping train.


The charms of Shinkansen

Besides connecting Tokyo and Osaka within a few hours with reasonable fare, the train offers both safety and comfort.
Unless it runs into a considerable problem, the train mostly runs on time.
There are more to Shinkansen’s unique appeal:

Enjoy the scenery outside

Since Shinkansen trains run on their own exclusive routes, you will be able to enjoy an entirely new scenery from riding other trains.
Even if you are taking the train on a business trip, you can enjoy a relaxing time on your way.

Savor the delicious station lunch

You can purchase a station lunch box made with tasty local ingredients and enjoy it in the train.


How did you like it? I hope you learned something new about Shinkansen after reading this article.
You will notice more things to enjoy on your journey after learning new things about trains and Shinkansen.

For example, there is an urban legend in Japan that says spotting a ”Doctor yellow” will bring you luck and make you happy, which is a yellow train that runs on the Shinkansen tracks to inspect the warping on the tracks, and condition of the overhead wires and the signal current.
Now that you know about it, you will feel excited if you ever spot this rare train in the future.
As for myself, I saw it running once.

If you get a chance to ride the Shinkansen, I do hope that reading this article could make your next trip more enjoyable.

That’s all for today.

Otsukaresama deshita