Shinkansen(Bullet Train) – 新幹線

Hi Leo Sensei dayo!

I will go back to Japan for one week. I can’t wait.

I will take Shinkansen, known as bullet train, in Japan. In this column, I wanna write about Shinkansen.



I know one of the things that many foreign tourists want to do in Japan is to take the Shinkansen, which was launched in 1964 as the world’s first high-speed train. Shinkansen’s top speed is at around 300km / hour. As for speed, TGV in Europe is faster than Shinkansen because Shinkansen’s route includes many tunnels and curves.


The strong point of Shinkansen is frequency, keeping on time and safety. Shinkansen leaves Tokyo station every five minutes and arrived at destination almost on time. They say delay time on average per day is only 6 seconds. Amazing, right?

In addition, there has been no big accident related with Shinkansen so far.


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Now 8 routes are in operation and 2 routes are under construction as bellow. You can go from Tokyo to anywhere you like. Even to Hokkaido and Kyusyu. Travel by train is slower than by air plane. But you can see Japanese scene from your window. The fare is cheaper than air ticket. I often took Tohoku line and Tokaido line on business trip.

 shinkansen route


Now 8 routes are in operation and each train in each line has its own name. For example, in Tokaido line, there are 3 kinds of train name, Nozomi(のぞみ, hope in English), Hikari (ひかり, light)and Kodama (こだま, echo ). Naomi is express one and Hiker and Kodama are local ones.

There are many other names in other lines. These names have one same feature although some exception. Each name consists of 3 hiragana characters. Hayat(はやて, strong wind ), Komati(こまち, beautiful girl), Sakura(さくら, cherry blossom), Tsubame(つばめ, swallow) and so on. These are named from words with local taste of that line and speed. Very interesting, right? Before opening new line, Railway Company announces the public offering about its train name. So you can name if you want!

 Shinkansen train type

Linear Chuo Shinkansen

Please look back routes map above. Now one big project is on going. That is linear project from Tokyo to Nagoya. Linear train runs with electric and magnetic power. It’s high technology under experiment. Linear train reached at 600km per hour in experimental run. This speed is almost two times faster than current Shinkansen. Not only high speed but no sounds are great points because train floats above rail with magnetic power. You can say flying train, maybe. It takes much time to verify its safety and make special rail for this train. This linear is planed to open in 2027.


Enjoy your ride when you will go to Japan!

Thank you for reading!!

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