Shinkansen (Bullet Train)


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Asia » Japan » Tokyo
September 21st 2014
Published: October 29th 2014
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Japan's Shinkansen (Bullet Train) service. The only way to travel! At least, now that I have experienced it, I would like it to be my only form of public transportation for the remainder of my life, but alas, that won't happen. I can only wish. You wait on the platform for the train to arrive, wait a few minutes for them to clean it, then they let you on. No security lines, no taking off your belt or shoes, no fighting for overhead bin space, you just go on. Oh and yes, no seat belts either. These fast trains begin moving slowly and they decelerate slowly as well. The ride is smooth and quiet, no clickity clack. It is such a pleasant experience. I also found it interesting that the crew, as they departed a given car, would bow to the passengers on that car, before departing that car.

I did a little research prior to my departure for Japan and learned that as a visitor I could obtain a Japan Rail Pass. Something not available to the Japanese for some reason. However, you do have to obtain a voucher for a Japan Rail Pass prior to your arrival in
Tokyo StationTokyo StationTokyo Station

Right turn heading South out of the station
Japan. Once you arrive in Japan, Japan Rail will replace your voucher with a real Japan Rail Pass and you need to present your passport at that time as well.

I only needed the rail pass for about a week as I was planning on traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto on 21 Sep, Kyoto to Hiroshima on 25 Sep, and Hiroshima back to Tokyo on 27 Sep. Would have been nice to have it on 28 Sep as well to save me the ¥ 3000 or so for the NEX ticket from Shinjuku to the Narita airport. They do not seem to sell the pass on an individual day basis, but rather in units of weeks.

In any case, I found the standard Japan Rail Pass for a week was about USD $300, and I could get the upgrade to the Green cars (their first or business class equivalent) for just USD $80 more, so I elected to get myself a Green car pass. Oh yes, also, in the Green cars, you get a reserved seat, which is quite handy should the Green cars be really popular when you are visiting. For my entire week riding JR trains though, I was never in a Green car that had more than about 60%!f(MISSING)ull. There were always plenty of seats, and on each 15 car Shinkansen train, they have a few cars which are Green cars. Each car is really long too. I did find it odd that no food or drink was free in the Green cars. Yep, even a bottle of water might cost you ¥ 200.

Here is a brief video traveling at speed on my way from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima :


The following video is not mine, but captures the experience in far more detail :



Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


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CleanersCleaners
Cleaners

Waiting to board the train when it arrives to clean it. Everyone wearing white gloves


Even the conductors wear White gloves
Green Car #8Green Car #8
Green Car #8

My ride from Tokyo to Kyoto
Spacious SeatingSpacious Seating
Spacious Seating

Green Car Seating
Automatic DoorsAutomatic Doors
Automatic Doors

Some you had to touch to get them to open, some just sensed you there and the doors opened automatically
Mt. Fuji in the distance?Mt. Fuji in the distance?
Mt. Fuji in the distance?

I don't know. This was the Southbound Tokyo to Kyoto leg
Shin-Osaka to HiroshimaShin-Osaka to Hiroshima
Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima

Had to take a local train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka since the Shinkansen into Kyoto was running late that day


AerodynamicAerodynamic
Aerodynamic

How fast do you think this thing can go?



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