The Complete Guide to Experiencing the Shinkansen High-Speed Trains in Japan


Japan’s iconic bullet trains, generally known as the Shinkansen, are world-famous—and for good cause. The Shinkansen high-speed trains are quick, futuristic, environment friendly, protected, and comfy, making them arguably essentially the most well-known trains globally. More than only a technique of transport, the Shinkansen is a must-see vacationer attraction that has develop into synonymous with Japan.

Traveling on a bullet practice in Japan is a bucket-list expertise for a lot of guests, akin to visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York. It additionally presents the additional benefit of enabling you to achieve locations throughout this spectacular nation.

In our full information to experiencing Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed trains, we’ll present every part it’s essential to learn about touring by rail in Japan. From reserving seats to exploring essentially the most cost-effective ticket choices with the JR Pass for limitless journey, the latest routes, enjoyable information, and rather more—All aboard!


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We extremely advocate getting the JR Pass for limitless practice journey in Japan. Here’s why:

Unlimited Travel: Enjoy limitless entry to most JR railways, together with high-speed Shinkansen, native trains, and buses.

Cost Savings: Save considerably on journey prices, notably useful for long-distance and a number of journeys.

Simplicity: Avoid the effort of buying particular person tickets by utilizing your go to simply entry trains.

Flexibility: Experience the liberty to discover spontaneously with out worrying about further ticket prices.

Additional Benefits: Benefit from extras like free reserved seat bookings and reductions on different JR transport providers.

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What is the Shinkansen High-Speed Train?

The Japanese phrase for ‘bullet train,’ Shinkansen, interprets on to ‘new trunk line’. It additionally references the Japanese time period ‘dangan ressha’ (弾丸列車), in addition to the bullet-shaped nostril of the very first Shinkansen practice collection. Although initially which means ‘new trunk line,’ the time period Shinkansen has been extra generally used for many years to discuss with each the trains and the tracks they function on.

Operated by the Japan Railways (JR) Group, the nation’s Shinkansen trains join Japan’s important islands from Sapporo within the north to Kagoshima within the south. These unbelievable high-speed trains cease at practically all main Japanese cities—Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and lots of others—throughout numerous interconnecting Shinkansen traces and practice classes. With only a few exceptions, these traces are completely for Shinkansen trains, making nearly no metropolis off-limits, particularly when paired with a Japan Rail Pass. This particular ticket presents limitless journey on all the nationwide JR community, together with the high-speed Shinkansen traces.

The Tokaido Shinkansen, arguably the nation’s hottest line, travels from Tokyo by means of Kyoto to Osaka, servicing a number of main cities alongside a route of historic significance since feudal Japan, initially important for commerce. Today, the road options three classes of trains, every differing by way of velocity and availability.

Another key line is the Sanyo Shinkansen, touring by means of Okayama and Hiroshima, and generally known as the ‘backbone of the JR railways’. It presents 5 sorts of trains, additionally various by velocity and availability. The Nagasaki Shinkansen, formally the Nishi Kyushu or ‘West Kyushu’ Shinkansen, which started operations between 2022 and 2023, connects Nagasaki City to Fukuoka with a brand new high-speed practice named ‘Kagome’, which means ‘seagull’.

Finally, an extension to the Hokuriku Shinkansen, extending the road to Tsuruga, providing journeys to Fukui Prefecture.

Shinkansen High-Speed Trains in Japan

The Evolution of Shinkansen

Ever since its launch, Japan’s Shinkansen has been celebrated for its record-breaking velocity, effectivity, and security. The iconic design has frequently advanced because the Nineteen Sixties, and extra just lately, it has been refined into numerous aerodynamic nostril shapes, together with a duck-billed design, to mitigate the noise challenge brought on by sonic booms when passing by means of tunnels.

One of the most recent fashions is the N700S ‘Supreme’ Shinkansen, operated by JR Central on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen traces. This practice boasts a powerful new high velocity of 362 km/h (225 mph).

Shinkansen high-speed trains in Japan

Tips For Traveling on the Shinkansen High-Speed Trains in Japan

If you’re visiting Japan for the primary time, navigating the nation’s distinctive rail community might sound daunting, however it’s a lot less complicated than it seems. Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless essential to do your analysis earlier than your journey. We’re right here to help with a choice of the perfect common Shinkansen journey ideas to make sure a clean expertise.

Highspeed trains in Japan

List of Shinkansen Lines

  • Tokaido Shinkansen
  • Sanyo Shinkansen
  • Tohoku Shinkansen (plus Yamagata and Akita)
  • Hokkaido Shinkansen
  • Joetsu Shinkansen
  • Hokuriku Shinkansen
  • Kyushu Shinkansen
  • Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen
Bullet train at the train station in Japan

Shinkansen Seat Classes

Shinkansen trains supply three important seat lessons: Ordinary, Green Car, and Gran Class.

Ordinary seats are akin to economic system class, offering primary consolation. Green Car seats resemble enterprise class with added facilities and house, whereas Gran Class presents a luxurious expertise much like top quality. All seat lessons permit the seats to be rotated 180 levels to make sure passengers can at all times face the route of journey.

Additionally, seats may be adjusted to face one another, which is right for teams. Seat configurations usually are 2×2 in Green Car and Gran Class, with a 3×2 configuration extra widespread in Ordinary Class.

Shinkansen highspeed trains in Japan

How to Reserve Seats on the Bullet Train

Shinkansen trains supply each non-reserved and reserved seating in separate vehicles. Certain providers require reservations, and a few might change to completely reserved throughout nationwide holidays such because the New Year, Obon, or Golden Week, so it’s essential to examine earlier than you journey.

If you’re touring with a Japan Rail Pass, one of many nice benefits is the flexibility to make advance seat reservations at no extra price. Seats may be reserved at Midori no Mado Guchi ticket places of work, that are identifiable by their inexperienced indicators, or at Travel Service Centres and JR-associated Travel Agencies.

For a number of years, JR East has been the one service offering a web-based English language reservation system accessible from exterior Japan, whereas all different traces require reservations to be made in individual as soon as in Japan.

To reserve a seat, merely current your JR Pass on the Midori no Mado Guchi, specify your practice and desire for smoking or non-smoking, and you’ll obtain your reserved seat ticket. Just present your Japan Rail Pass on the ticket gate, proceed to your platform, and be sure you hold maintain of your ticket as you would possibly must current each your JR Pass and seat reservation to the ticket inspector.

Boarding the Shinkansen

Boarding a Shinkansen is easy: upon arriving on the station, go by means of the common ticket gates, head to the Shinkansen platform, and go by means of the Shinkansen ticket gates to your platform.

Your carriage quantity shall be indicated in your ticket, with carriage numbers additionally marked on the bottom and on indicators overhead (non-reserve carriages are usually numbered 1-5). Line up behind the white line and wait to your practice. Upon its arrival, enter and discover your seat (seat numbers are indicated above the home windows).

If you’re in an unreserved carriage, it’s possible you’ll sit in any accessible seat. Once settled, merely calm down and luxuriate in your journey!

Shinkansen highspeed trains in Japan

What is the Luggage Allowance on the Shinkansen?

When boarding the Shinkansen, passengers might carry as much as two items of bags on board freed from cost. The mixed size, width, and top of every bag should not exceed 250 centimeters, with no particular person facet longer than two meters, and the load should not exceed 30 kilograms.

Bags measuring lower than 160 cm (mixed dimensions) may be introduced on board with out prior reservation. For baggage between 160 cm and 250 cm, a previous reservation is required, which may be made without charge. Failure to order upfront might end in a 1,000 yen fantastic, and the baggage could also be relocated by the practice conductor. Luggage exceeding 250 centimeters is just not permitted on the practice and would require different transport preparations.

Reservations may be made through the Eki-Net App, at ticket machines, or in individual at ticket counters. If you’re utilizing a JR Pass, it’s advisable to make each your seat and baggage reservations concurrently.

General Shinkansen Rules

Traveling on the Shinkansen, like several public transportation, comes with its personal etiquette:

  • Free Wi-Fi: Most Shinkansen trains supply free Wi-Fi entry (be taught extra about Wi-Fi entry in Japan)
  • Bento Boxes: A choice of trains present boxed meals (bento) for buy.
  • No-Smoking: Smoking is prohibited on all Shinkansen trains.
  • Queueing: Passengers are anticipated to type orderly traces to facilitate protected and environment friendly boarding.
  • Phones on Silent: Keep cellphones on silent mode and keep away from taking calls within the seating space. If you could take a name, use the designated spots between vehicles.
  • Use of Headphones: To keep a cushty surroundings, passengers ought to use headphones when listening to music or watching movies.
  • Luggage Requirements: Refer to the baggage coverage detailed above for dimension and weight restrictions and examine the JR Group web site for updates.
Inside a train in Japan

How To Buy Tickets to Travel on the Shinkansen High-Speed Train

  • Ticket Purchase: You should buy common Shinkansen tickets at ticket counters, through ticket machines, and on-line.
  • JR Pass: The JR Pass presents limitless journey on Japan’s home rail community and is offered for buy on-line. It can be utilized on all Shinkansen practice traces, though a supplemental charge is required for the Nozomi and Mizuho trains. As famous earlier, JR Pass holders additionally profit from complimentary seat reservations. The JR Pass may be bought for 7, 14, or 21 days, relying on the length of your keep and your journey plans.
Getting tickets for the Shinkansen highspeed trains in Japan

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Top Five Shinkansen Facts

Japan’s exceptional Shinkansen trains are celebrated for rather more than their iconic look. Here are our high 5 information about Shinkansen:

  1. Impressive Passenger Numbers: In its debut 12 months, the Shinkansen transported 11 million passengers. Today, it carries over 150 million passengers yearly.
  2. Record-Breaking Speed: Known for his or her velocity, Shinkansen continues to interrupt data. The Alpha-X, one in every of Japan’s quickest trains, can journey from Tokyo to Sapporo in simply three hours—a journey that beforehand took seven hours. This 10-car experimental bullet practice, operated by JR-East on the Tohoku Shinkansen line, can attain speeds as much as 400 km/h.
  3. Unmatched Safety: Despite their velocity, Shinkansen trains boast a powerful security document with no passenger fatalities in practically 50 years of operation. They are outfitted with superior security options, comparable to automated air brakes for earthquakes, full lively suspension, and a brand new ATC braking system in fashions just like the N700S Supreme Shinkansen. The Alpha-X additionally incorporates modern security applied sciences, together with air brakes on the roof and magnetic plates close to the rails.
  4. Incredible Punctuality: Shinkansen trains are so environment friendly that the common delay per practice is simply 12 seconds.
  5. Eco-Friendly Travel: Shinkansen are considerably extra environmentally pleasant in comparison with airplanes, producing 92% much less carbon emissions per seat.

These information spotlight not solely the technological marvels of the Shinkansen but in addition their crucial function in Japan’s transportation infrastructure and environmental efforts.

View of a mountain from inside a train in Japan

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