Riding The Shinkansen

Awesome train pulling into the station in TokyoThe number one benefit of purchasing the seven day Japan Rail Pass (that we mentioned earlier) is that it has allowed us to ride all of the JR trains including the famed Shinkansen (pronounced like “Wisconsin”) AKA the bullet train. Talk about a wonderful, lightning fast way to trek through Japan! We knew it would be a speedy ride, but Sweet Sassy Molassy! That train is fast! Amtrak’s Acela service crawls in comparison.

A sensational, practical, relaxing and enjoyable way to travel, the Shinkansen rail network spans the islands of Japan from tip to toe providing the fastest, smoothest and among the most comfortable train ride that I have ever enjoyed. Shinkansen service is near legend in Japan and it’s easy to see why. These trains are a technology and transportation achievement that should have other countries drooling.

Brooke checking out the departure time for our trainThe Shinkansen trains themselves have a fierce and futuristic look – even though the trains have been around for years and years. Their signature look embodies speed. Each sleek car is white with a signature single blue line that streaks down the center of the outside. These aerodynamically shaped trains are also considerably longer than most other trains I’ve seen with some running up to sixteen cars. Each train can hold over 1,500 passengers; when they pull in the station they seem to keep going and going. The interior is equally as nice: comfortable quiet cars, and reclining seats. They are very clean trains with attentive in-seat service from an ever-bowing crew. In that regard, we’re starting to expect nothing less from the Japanese! And there are just so many Shinkansen are on the schedule running each day! The frequency is surprising: wait ten minutes in a station and you might see a half dozen Shinkansens zoom through. It’s a little thrilling each time one roars into the station.

Long Cars

But above all else, it is simply a wonderful way to see the country. Sit back, tilt the chair a bit, and gaze through the oversized window. And these suckers are fast and getting faster. Each generation of engines are apparently a touch speedier than the previous. Speeds of up to 180-200 MPH makes looking out the window a little challenging. Traveling at this new speed, closer objects are hard to focus on before they are out of sight. We rode the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and then Kyoto to Hiroshima and finally back to Tokyo. It would have been great if we had just a smidge more time to head north, but that’s becoming our mantra lately: If only we had a bit more time!

Top notch servicecBut buyer beware – these Shinkansen tickets can be expensive! That handy-dandy Japan Rail pass included our fees, but we estimate our three train tickets could have cost upwards of $500 each. The costs seem justifiable when you start to add up all of the infrastructure that must have been required here. Riding the line on elevated tracks (no ground level track-crossings here), curves on a very small grade, and through endless tunnels & bridges, it breaks my four-function brain calculator to add up what the infrastructure demands must have been. And it looks like it is paying off- most trains we rode on were sold out and it seems to be the preferred method of travel through the country. Who needs airports when a Shinkansen stop is likely a short jaunt from your home! Hmmm…I wonder if there is a Shinkansen route that will take us to the top of Mt. Fuji tomorrow? Man, what a cool ride.

-Phil

Yes please!

Zooming into Kyoto

 

Advertisements
Categories: Destinations, Japan, Tokyo, Trains, Transportation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Post navigation

5 thoughts on “Riding The Shinkansen

  1. Melissa

    Just do you know, your train posts have substituted for Jude’s bedtime book twice this week. “Mommy, how about tonight we read Phil & Brooke’s train story on the iPad instead?” No joke. Phil & Jude: train geeks bridging the generation gap. This morning I told him about “Wisconsin” and he is currently walkIng around the apartment repeating “Shinkansen” to himself while carrying his model bullet train (even though it’s a Eurostar).

    • Wow…let me check…and, yes, that’s one of the most flattering things that Brooke and I have ever been told! That’s really great. I’m thrilled that the whole Thornton family is enjoying reading about the trains. Maybe one day we can get him out here to ride the “Wisconsin” – all of the other kids on the train were having a blast!

      Train nerds (of all ages) Unite! Thanks for the note MThorntons!

      -Phil

  2. Anonymous

    I am jealous! I know, I know–I could be doing it with you. Good luck in SE Asia!

  3. dreweastmead

    Awesome details. I am very jealous of those trains and wish we had them in and around NYC! Keep up the good work and keep having a blast…!

    • Yeah, it was a cool ride. Would be an awesome way to get from DC to Boston. Wish we had anything like it in the U.S., but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Can do on the keep having a blast part!

Let us know your feedback!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: