Shinkansen bullet trains in Japan mostly operate on dedicated tracks and stop only at major stations. They are run by Japan Railways (JR) Group companies and feature some of the fastest trains in the world, traveling at up to 320 kilometers per hour.
With the super express ticket, you need to go the dedicated Shinkansen platform, which has its own gates. Travelling by Shinkansen train allows you to always be on time as the average delay is only 36 seconds. After the passengers leave the cabins the cleaning crew takes care of the trains and makes sure that everything is in order. Once the travelers enter the train and it is ready to take off, the carriages are pressurized for high-speed travel. The cabin crew will make sure that you are comfortable and all set for your travels, the train also provides you with an amazing view of Mt. Fuji right outside of your window.
Types of bullet trains
The Akita is a Mini-shinkansen rail line in Japan it opened in 1997. The Akita Line connects the capital city of Tokyo to Akita. These E6 series trains travel at speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour between Tokyo and Morioka, and 130 kilometers per hour between Morioka and Akita. Each train includes one Green Class Car, and all cars have a 2×2 seating arrangement. The entire trip is covered by your JR Pass. All of the seating on trains is reserved seating so be sure to book your seat in advance. This can be done at the ticketing counter at the railway station. Have your Japan Rail Pass ready to present at the boarding gate. The entire trip from Tokyo to Akita is 670 kilometers and takes approximately 4 hours. There are hourly departures from Tokyo station.Popular stops along the Akita Shinkansen Line include Sendai, Morioka, Semboku, and Daisen.
The Hokkaido Shinkansen is a Japanese high-speed rail line that connects with the Tohoku Shinkansen in northern Aomori Prefecture in Honshu and goes to Hokkaido through the undersea Seikan Tunnel. There are two trains that are running on the Hokkaido line: Hayabusa and Hayate. Most of the Hokkaido Shinkansen trains are Hayabusa, which runs between Tokyo Station and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station.The journey from Tokyo to Hakodate takes approximately 4 hours and 2 minutes, please note that you must have a seat reservation. If you hold a Japan Rail Pass you can travel in the standard or green car depending on the type of pass purchased. Once you arrive in Hokkaido you need to make only one transfer at JR Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. If you have chosen to travel to Hokkaido for tourism purposes and you enjoy outdoor activities Hokkaido is the place for you. Hokkaido has many ski resorts which can be enjoyed in winter and beautiful lavender fields if you are travelling in summer. But you are a foodie you must try the ramen later accompanied with a glass of beer at the Sapporo been museum.
The Joetsu Shinkansen is a high-speed shinkansen railway line connecting Tokyo and Niigata, the line is operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). The line was opened on 15 th November 1982 and since then it allows passengers to travel to ski resorts and hot spring resorts in Gumma and Niigata.
The Joetsu Shinkansen line runs two train groups
Toki- the faster train category, this trains connects Tokyo and Niigata stations, some trains have double decker cabins, 2x2 or 2x3 seating as well as Green Cars and even Gran first class cars.
Tanigawa- the slower train category that connects Tokyo and Echigo- Yuzawa stations. The Tanigawa train mostly operates the morning and evening rush hours which is mostly targeted for the local commuters.
Both trains have reserved and non reserved seating, if you wish to make a reservation you can do so by visiting designated stations ticketing office. Whether you reserve a seat or not you will need to present your JR Pass when departing.
The Kyushu Shinkansen it a high-speed railway line that runs between the cities of Fukuoka and Kagoshima. The line opened in 2004 and are operated by the Kyushu Railway Company, commonly known as JR Kyushu. The beautiful island of Kyushu has a rich history, beautiful nature as well as modern cities.
The Kyushu Shinkansen operates 3 train groups
Mizuho- the fastest train from the group. This train stops only at Kagoshima- Chuo, Hakata and Kumamoto stations, this line runs trains mostly during morning and evening rush hours, this is one of the few lines that does not accept the JR Pass and can only be boarded with the Kyushu Rail pass. Traveling with Mizuho takes 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Sakura- the second fastest train, the train offers more stops as well as more departures than the Mizuho. The Sakura train provides 8 car seats and 2x2 or 2x3 rows. You can either reserve your seat with your Green Pass or travel without reservation with your ordinary pass. Traveling with Sakura takes 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Tsubame- slowest train in the Kyushu Shinkansen train group. Although this is the slowest train in the group it stops at all stations in the line. The Tsubame provides 6 car train seats, you can travel with the Green Pass as well as ordinary pass.
Reservations are available on all of the trains in the group , reservations can be made by visiting any ticketing counter in the stations. Please note that the Mizuho train is not covered by the JR Pass, boarding will require an additional cost.
The Hokuriku Shinkansen is a high-speed shinkansen railway line that is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and West Japan Railway Company (JR West), connecting Tokyo with Kanazawa. The line opened on the 1st of October, 1997 for the Nagano Winter Olympics and is split into four groups.
Kayagaki- the fastest train in the group, connecting Tokyo and Kazanawa and providing services in the mornings and evenings. Travelling with Kayagaki takes 2 and a half hours and only stops at Ueno, Omiya, Toyama and Nagano stations. The trains provides 12 cars including Gran Class service. Kayagaki requires seat reservations, once all the seats have been booked you may purchase standing tickets.
Hakutaka- the slowest train in the group and runs the whole length of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The seating reservations are the same as Kayagaki- seating requires reservations. The trip takes less than 3 hours.
Asama- runs only between Tokyo and Nagano and operates two train types –8 coach and 12 coach train seats, trains allows to make reservations as well as provides non reserved seats.
Tsurugi- runs between Kazanawa and Toyama stations, train uses 12 coach trains including Green car first class. Train provides travelers with reserved and non reserved seats, reserved seats will cost extra.
The Sanyo Shinkansen is a line of the Japanese Shinkansen high-speed rail network, connecting Shin-Osaka in Osaka with Hakata Station in Fukuoka. The line opened in March 15th, 1972 and is owned and operated by JR West. The Sanyo Shinkansen operates five train groups.
Nozomi- stops only at a few stations and the trip takes 2 and a half hours with the three or more departures in an hour. Nozomi line is not covered by the JR Pass. To travel with the Nozomi train you will need to purchase JR Sanyo Sanin pass, JR Kansai Hiroshima areas pass or few other regional rail passes.
Kodama- the slowest train in the group, but stops at all the stations on the line, The trip takes almost 5 hours. Kodama provides reserves and non reserved cars.
Mizuho- fastest train in the group and provides about 6 trips per day in the morning and evening, the train does not stop at all of the stations. Mizuho train is not covered by the JR Pass.
Sakura- runs between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima- Chuo stations. You can travel with reserved and non reserved seating. Sakura train is covered by the JR Pass.
Hikari- runs once per hour between Shin-Osaka and Okayama stations. The Hikari train also provides connection to Tokyo. Hikari train is covered by the JR Pass.
The Tohoku Shinkansen is the longest high-speed Shinkansen rail line, connecting Tokyo with Aomori. The line opened on 23rd June, 1982 and operates 6 train groups. Your Japan Rail Pass is valid on all trains of the Tohoku Shinkansen Line. You can activate your JR Pass at the ticketing counter of any major train station.
Hayabusa- the fastest train in the category, runs only to the major stations between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori. Hayabusa trains require seat reservations, if all seats are booked you may purchase standing tickets. You may travel in the Green Car or book an ordinary seat.
Komachi- the only group that runs together with Hayabusa group as well as run independently between Akita and Morioka. Komachi trains require seat reservations, if all seats are booked you may purchase standing tickets.You may travel in the Green Car or book an ordinary seat.
Yamabiko- the fastest train in the group. The trip on Yamabiko will take about two hours with your JR Pass.
Nasuno- The slowest train in the group as it stops on all of the station in the line. Nasuno trains stop at all stations between Koriyama and Tokyo.
Tsubasa- runs together with Yamabiko train between Tokyo and Fukushima as well as independently between Fukushima and Shinjo.
Hayate- this group runs mostly in the mornings and late evenings. Hayate trains run between Tokyo and Morioka. Hayate trains require seat reservations, if all seats are booked you may purchase standing tickets.
The Tokaido Shinkansen is the oldest and busiest high-speed rail system in the world. Line opened in 1964 and runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. Tokaido Shinkansen operates 3 train groups.
Nozomi- the fastest train in the group and stops only at major stations. The trip with Nozomi will take you about 2 and a half hours. There are normally around 4-8 departures per hour. The Nozomi cannot be used with the JR Pass.
Hikari- the fastest train after Nozomi and stops at more stations than the Nozomi, there are around 2 departures per hour and the trip will take you 3 hours between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations. As Hikari trains stop only at major stations differing to the train be sure to check train schedules carefully to ensure a stop at your intended destination. If you wish to use the Japan Rail Pass, Hikari is your best choice.
Kodama- the slowest train in the group as it stops at all the stations in the line. The trip will take you about 4 hours and the trains depart every hour. During the rush hour Kodama train offers only non-reserved seats. Kodama offers discounted tickets between Tokyo and Kyoto stations, but they need to be booked at least one day in advance.
The Yamagata Shinkansen is a Mini-shinkansen route operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). The line opened in 1st july, 1992 and runs between Tokyo and runs to the Yamagata Prefecture. The Yamagata line allows you to use your JR Pass and enjoy the affordable trip.
Stations along the Yamagata Shinkansen Line include Fukushima, Yonezawa, Takahata, Akayu, Kaminoyama-Onsen, Yamagata, Tendo, Sakuranbo-Higashine, Murayama, Oishida, and Shinjo Stations. Yamagata trains allow travelers to travel either in Green Cars or ordinary cars, all of the trains have vending machines, food carts and washroom options.
The trip will take you about 3 and a half hours. Make sure that you activate your JR Pass when you arrive in Japan which can be done in any railway station ticketing counter. You can choose to either book your seat or travel with non reserved seating.
Once you have arrived in Japan and wish to travel around the beautiful country the most convenient and comfortable way of traveling is by Shinkansen bullet trains. If you wish to save time, travel in style and comfort the next step is to get your Shinkansen Tickets.
Shinkansen offers two types of tickets – the passenger and the express ticket. Unfortunately, Shinkansen does not provide single now integrated tickets so you will need to obtain both types.
You may obtain you tickets at any train station from the ticket counters, ticket machines or online. If you are a foreign passport holder we suggest to obtain the JR Pass with unlimited offers and access to most of the Shinkansen trains. The fees will depend on your trip (distance, journey), seat and car type. Shinkansen offers discounts for children as well as few types of trains who operate in rush hours.
To obtain your ticket- provide the number of passengers, pick the date of your journey, departure and destination station, type of the car and you are all set.
Extras on board
Good news! Traveling on Shinkansen with the bicycle on board is allowed free of charge. Japan visitors are permitted to travel with their bikes at any time for free, however, you must keep it in a special bike bag called 'Rinko bag'. The bike must be fully in the bag. In case your bike is not folding, you will have to take off the front wheel to be able to place it into the bike bag. The size of the bag as well as any other luggage on board must not exceed 250cm (width/length/depth) and it must not be longer than 200cm.
Small pets such as dogs, cats and birds are permitted onboard of Shinkansen, however, they must not weigh more than 10kg and must be held in a box with a maximum total height and length of 90cm.
Shinkansen Bullet trains are designed with very little space for the luggage. In case you have only one luggage which is of the size of standard hand luggage, you should have no problem, as it should fit above your head. In theory, you should carry not more than 2 units of luggage, the weight should be no more than 30kg per unit. The height/width and depth should not exceed 250cm per bag. In case you have more luggage you can also reserve a seat, you can do that at the ticket counter. If you are traveling in a Green - First class car, you should be able to fit your luggage in front of you, on the floor.
Easy of access
Shinkansen has 9 lines that take you to different locations around Japan. From Tokyo to the south runs the Tokaido Shinkansen line, connecting the capital with Osaka. The Sanyo Shinkansen line connects Osaka with Fukuoka and, from there, the Kyushu Shinkansen line runs through the island of Kyushu from north to south. The other six lines either take you north or inland from Tokyo. These are the Akita, Hokuriku, Joetsu, Tohoku, Yamagata Shinkansen lines. Lastly, the Hokkaido line takes you to the north, straight to Hokkaido island. Shinkansen bullet trains make it easy for travelers to access any place in Japan without any struggle.