The Bullet Train: Shinkansen

Japanese bullet train


The Shinkansen known, colloquially in as the bullet train, is a network of high-speed rail lines in Japan. It was initially built to connect distant regions of the capital, Tokyo, in order to support the economic growth and development of the country. It is operated by five companies of the Japan Railways Group.

Shinkansen high-speed trains are the fastest way to see Japan. They reach a speed of 320 km / h (199 mph). The Japan Railways (JR) network, accessible via the Japan Rail Pass, covers virtually the entire country, with the addition of the new Hokkaido Shinkansen and the popular Tokaido Shinkansen.


The nine Shinkansen lines go in different directions around Japan. From Tokyo to the south, run the line Tokaido Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo with Osaka. The line Sanyo shinkansen connects Osaka with Fukuoka and, from there, the line Kyushu Shinkansen it crosses the island of Kyushu from north to south. The other six lines move north or inland from Tokyo. These are the lines Akita, Hokuriku, Joetsu, Tohoku, Yamagata Shinkansen. And the Hokkaido line leads north to the island of Hokkaido.

Tokyo – Osaka in the bullet tern

Tokyo and Osaka are connected to each other by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen through Shinagawa (Tokyo) and Shin (Osaka) stations.
Three types of Shinkansen can be boarded. The trains “Nozomi”They make the journey in approximately 155 minutes between the Shin-Osaka stations, from Tokyo. The trains “Hikari“They do it in about three hours and the trains”Kodama ”in about four hours.
The regular one-way fare is 13,620 yen per seat, unreserved, on any train and about 14,200 yen per seat, reserved, on the Hikari or Kodama trains, and about 14,500 yen per reserved seat on the Nozomi.

JR pass

The seven (7) day Japan Rail Pass costs approximately the same as regular round trip tickets. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on Hikari and Kodama trains, but not on Nozomi trains.

What class is on the bullet train?

Most of the Shinkansen trains in Japan offer two classes of seats, and they are generally in separate carriages: Ordinary: As the name implies, ordinary seats are the normal seats found on all Shinkansen trains, although the size and footwell of ordinary seats vary between these trains.

Common seats on Shinkansen are generally comfortable with plenty of room for your feet. They almost always come in rows of 3 + 2 seats.

The Bullet Train: Shinkansen
Tourist class
The Bullet Train: Shinkansen
First class

Once you have calculated how much you have to pay, tap the box on the screen and follow the instructions (insert your money). You can also select how many people you are shopping for by clicking the buttons on the left side with the ‘people’ icon. The price of children’s tickets is lower, so you can adjust it too. You can also purchase each ticket separately. Green Cars: Compared to business class, on airplanes, Green Cars have larger and more comfortable seats than regular ones and with more room for the feet.
Seats are arranged in rows of 2 + 2. Green Cars tend to be less crowded than regular ones.
Approximate Shinkansen Fares from Tokyo Station (One Way):

  • Tokyo – Shin Fuji: ¥ 5590
  • Tokyo – Nagoya: ¥ 10,880
  • Tokyo – Kyoto: ¥ 13,600
  • Tokyo – Shin Osaka: ¥ 14140
  • Tokyo – Shin Kobe: ¥ 14680
  • Tokyo – Hiroshima: ¥ 18,560

The Bullet Train: Shinkansen

Buying a Shinkansen ticket at a ticket machine

Shinkansen tickets can be purchased at selected ticketing machines.
Most have menus in English. Some machines only sell non-reserved seats, while other machines can purchase reserved seats.
Although ticket vending machines can be very useful if you know how to use them, the process of buying Shinkansen tickets is not always straightforward and some machines do not accept credit cards issued outside of Japan. Please note that Rail Pass users cannot use the ticket vending machines to make seat reservations.

The Bullet Train: Shinkansen

Buy a Shinkansen ticket at the box office

In case the user wishes to buy the ticket directly at the box office and does not speak the Japanese language, it is advisable to write the following information on a sheet of paper in English and legible handwriting, to facilitate the purchase and avoid misunderstandings:

  • Number of travelers
  • Travel date
  • Departure station
  • Destination station
  • Ordinary Carill or Green Car
  • Reserved or unreserved seat

The Bullet Train: Shinkansen

Shinkansen benefits

Above all, it should be noted that the Shinkansen has a remarkable safety record. The Shinkansen has operated for 50 years, more than 18,000 days, without a single passenger casualty.
This is a testament to the unwavering attention to quality in technology development and great operational safety efforts by all personnel involved, from train operators to engineers who maintain trains, tracks and other equipment.
Reliability is another achievement of the Shinkansen, famous for its punctual service. The system is compatible with all types of hardware and administrative systems, including specially designed high-speed rail tracks, Automatic Train Control (ATC) and Automatic Train Time Management, to ensure trains run on time . A careful combination of hardware and software allows this team, combined with the technical skills of the operators, to control the trains down to the smallest second and guarantee precision and reliability in operation.
As a result, this system makes it possible for trains to run at such short three-minute intervals, without schedule delays, with an average duration of less than a minute.
If you want to travel comfortably and quickly, the Shinkansen is the best way to get around the different regions of Japan.