Shinkansen or the bullet train/新幹線

This article can be read in about 10 minutes.

Nozomi/Hikari (N700A type) shot at TOKYO KOTSU KAIKAN

Shinkansen or the bullet train is the super-express train and also train network systems in Japan. 
Major cities are connected with each other by these high-speed railway networks from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto in the north to Kagoshima in the south. 
It’s famous for its safety and punctuality. 
In order to avoid serious accidents, there is no railway crossing along the lines except for mini-Shinkansen.


In 1964 (Oct.1st) when the Tokyo Olympic games were held, the first operation started between Tokyo and Osaka. 
Since then, its network has been spreading across the country.  
In 2011, we can travel from Tokyo to Kagoshima the southern part of Japan with the bullet train. 
In 2015, the line extended to Kanazawa, the northwest of Tokyo. 
And in 2016, the line extended to Hakodate (Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station) in Hokkaido, the northern island. 
Now the three major islands were connected with the bullet train networks using undersea tunnels. 
And some routes are still under construction to extend the networks. 

Maximum Speed

The maximum speed at the first operation was 200 km/h and it took about four hours from Tokyo to Osaka. 
However, today, the highest speed is 285 km/h (177mile/h) and it takes 2 and a half hours from Tokyo to Osaka. 
Thanks to the development of the technology, the current maximum speed of Shinkansen is about 320 km/h at Tohoku Shinkansen line. 
Over a long period of history, the design of the first car of the bullet trains has changed drastically from a round shape to a streamline shape. 

Since there’s no speed indicator in the cars, I’ll suggest that you should download some apps of speedometers in advance so that you can enjoy measuring its speed!

Image of speed indicator app shot at somewhere in Japan during the bullet train ride

You can see how fast Shinkansen runs through the video below.
It was an amazing video shot by Mr. Deep Pilankar.

Major Names of Shinkansen

Talking about the bullet trains that run between Tokyo and Osaka, there are three types depending on the number of the stops. 

  1.  Nozomi
  2.  Hikari
  3.  Kodama

“Noisomi” literally means wish. 
“Hikari” means “light” and Kodama means “echo”.
Nozomi super express train service is the fastest because it stops at only major stations such as Yokohama, Nagoya and Kyoto, while Kodama is like a local bullet train because it stops at all stations. 
Hikari is the slower than Nozimi but faster than Kodama.

Where is the best place to see the bullet trains?

① TOKYO KOTSU KAIKANViewing them closely but at low speedTokyoLowFree
② Shimogoinden bridgeViewing bullet trains with different designsTokyoLowFree
③ Himeji stationViewing high-speed bullet trains passing byOsakaHighEntrance ticket is required

TOKYO KOTSU KAIKAN @Urakucho station (Kyobashi Gate)@東京交通会館
You can enjoy viewing them closely but at low speed, when you go up to “Garden Colline” at the 3rd floor. It’s for free.
Since the bullet trains will depart from Tokyo station and their speed is not yet fast, you can take Instagramable photos easier (Please refer to the first photo).
You will enjoy watching many bullet trains since around 16 bullet trains per hour go back and forth Tokyo station.

Shimogoinden bridge@Nippori station (north exit)/下御隠殿橋
You can see the bullet trains belong to JR East (these car designs are different from those that run between Tokyo and Osaka). It’s for free.
You will enjoy watching many different kinds of bullet trains since around 20 bullet trains per hour go back and forth Tokyo station.

Himeji station
You can see the bullet trains which pass by at a higher speed around 300 km/h.
It takes one hour from Osaka by local train or at least 30 minutes by bullet train.
When you only enter the platform, you have to pay the entrance ticket (150 yen as of 2021.03).

You are not allowed to use selfie stick on the platform.
You should stay behind the yellow warning blocks, while shooting videos and taking photos.

jump to Hello Kitty Shinkansen



Good day, I am the founder of Aurora Trip Nippon. Also, I am a Certified National Guide, Certified Tour Conductor, Certified General Travel Service Supervisor, as well as a Kimono Consultant.
I love Japan. So, you could ask us anything about Japan.

We're happy if you follow us. We'll inform our webpage's update through SNS!
We're happy if you follow us. We'll inform our webpage's update through SNS!
Aurora Trip Nippon

Comment You may leave a comment or image below.

  1. AvatarDeep Pilankar says:

    Great article Miki. Thank you for the wonderful 5-day trip. We had fun and enjoyed every moment of it. Thanks for educating us on Japanese culture and history. One of the highlights for me was traveling in the bullet train aka the Shinkansen. Thank you and keep up the good work. Shinkansen rocks!

    • MikiMiki says:

      Thank you for your comment, Deep. Indeed! Wonderful memories. It’s my pleasure.
      I still clearly remembered how excited you were in the Shinkansen. ^^/
      Also thank you again for allowing me to use your impressive video!!