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Riding the Shinkansen - What you need to know



29. July. 2019

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The shinkansen, or bullet train as it is commonly known in English, is the artery of the Japanese rail system, traversing the country from Hokkaido in the north through to Kyushu in the south-west.

With passengers making one million trips per day on average, this accumulates to over 3,000 kilometers of railway. The trains run at speeds of up to 320 km/h, and can cover the 550 km between Tokyo and Osaka in just under 2.5 hours.

Riding the Shinkansen - What you need to know


  • Why go by shinkansen?
  • What is a shinkansen and why are there so many?
  • The shinkansen names you actually need to know:
  • For trains travelling west on the Tokaido-Sanyo-Kyushu line:
  • The Tokaido line runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka
  • The Sanyo line runs between Shin-Osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka), and the Kyushu line runs between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Kagoshima-Chuo
  • For trains travelling north on the Tohoku-Joetsu line:
  • The Hokkaido and Tohoku line runs from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station in Hokkaido
  • The Hokuriku line operates between Tokyo and Kanazawa.
  • The Joetsu line operates between Tokyo and Niigata
  • Types of shinkansen seats
  • How to make a seat reservation (while in Japan)
  • Making reservations in person
  • Making reservations online
  • JR-Central - SmartEX Tokaido Shinkansen Reservation App
  • JR-West - JR-West Online Train Reservation
  • JR-East - JR-EAST Train Reservation
  • JR Rail Passes - There is more than one type!

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