Travel Japan By the Speed of Lightning: The Shinkansen

  • Do you know that Japan’s high-speed trains called “shinkansen” or bullet train can run as fast as 320 km/hr? Yes, it’s true. This is the reason why it has been called the fastest train the world!


    Ordinarily speaking, Japanese don’t use the shinkansen for short distances. They commonly use it if they want to travel far into the other side of Japan. This is very costly though, but if you’re a foreigner, try getting the Japan Rail Pass. In this way, you can have some discounts, which is very cost-effective.

    The Japan Rail Pass is valid on the following: JR trains, Tokyo Monorail to/from Haneda Airport, JR Ferry to Miyajima and local JR buses.

    Shinkansen Network

    There are multiple lines making up the shinkansen network. Shinkansen routes are separated from the conventional ones. They have their own tracks exclusively built for them. This is the reason why they are able to maintain their high-speed as well as punctuality. There are no rail road crossings for the Shinkansen. Instead, the Shinkansen tracks follow tunnels and viaducts to pass through, thus they are considered to be reliable.

    Seat Classes

    Just like planes, there are classes of seats for you to choose from when using the Shinkansen.

    Ordinary Seats


    Reserved Seat vs. Non-reserved Seat

    If you want to make a reservation, you have to purchase the Super (Limited) Express Reserve Seat Ticket. If you use a non-reserved seat, a Super (Limited) Express Non-reserved Seat Ticket is required. This goes for ordinary car seats.

    Green Car


    There is what you call the Green Car (first-class cars) which provides good value for money if you’re after comfort. The seats are larger and offer more foot space. You can also recline your seat to relax. There are even more services offered such as JR Hokkaido Line which gives passengers “oshibori” or hot towel as well as drinks.

    Gran Class
    There’s always a luxurious class for every type of train. For the Shinkansen, it is called “Gran Class.” The name was inspired by the French word “big.” Gran Class offers even more spacious seating! There are also additional amenities which are not offered with Green Car seating.