Shinkansen Bullet Trains in Japan
The best way to discover Japan
The best way to travel around Japan is on a high speed Bullet Train. Order your Japan Rail Pass today online!
With a 20,000-kilometer network of lines and high-performance, punctual trains, Japan is a train lover's paradise.
If you want to optimize your time in Japan and travel quickly between the Japanese cities, opt for the high-speed Shinkansen 'bullet trains'.
These Shinkansen bullet trains are a big hit with tourists in Japan as they are easy to access, convenient for long-distance travel, and adorned with well-thought-out amenities for riders to use. Inside the carriages, there is a digital information system in Japanese, English, and other languages that shows upcoming stops as well as the estimated arrival time.
The JR Pass allows visitors to Japan easy access to the Shinkansen Bullet Trains with just a quick check of the pass at the ticket gate. The Shinkansen have reserved seat carriages (指定席) and unreserved seat carriages (自由席). As a Japan Rail Pass holder you can make seat reservations free of charge before your journey, but it is not mandatory. Seat reservations are advised in periods of high demand, such as the cherry blossom season (late March–early April), Golden Week (late April–early May), Obon (mid-August), and the New Year.
Green Pass and Gran Class
The 'Green Pass' gives you access to the "Green Car", more luxurious seat option, without any additional fees. The "Green car" provides a large seat that can recline further than the ones in ordinary cars, a footrest, more space between the seats, an integrated radio set and space for your luggage. In recent years, newer models of trains have introduced a new class for the ultimate bullet train travel experience: the Gran Class. This new first-class train travel whose name was inspired by the French word for "big", was first instituted in 2011 on the Tohoku Shinkansen.
Japan was the first country to create a high-speed rail network. It was in 1964, on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics, that the first Shinkansen line was inaugurated. This stretch of approximately 500km was constructed between the capital, Tokyo and Shin-Osaka following the ancient Tokaido route.The service was an immediate success, reaching the 100 million passenger mark in less than three years.
The Shinkansen bullet trains serve all major cities on the main island of Honshu and also on Kyushu. There are no Shinkansen in Shikoku and none in the Okinawan Islands. The fastest trains on these islands are the limited express trains.
Future Shinkansen Extensions
- Hokuriku Shinkansen: The extension of this Shinkansen line connecting Tokyo to Kanazawa opened in March 2015, it will then be further extended to Tsuruga in 2025.
- Hokkaido Shinkansen: This extension has been in operation since March 2016 and goes out to Shin Hakodate. Second stage from Shin Hakodate to Sapporo will be fully operational in 2035.
- Kyushu Shinkansen: This extension, allowing high-speed Shinkansen travel to Nagasaki, is planned to open in 2023.
- Chuo Shinkansen: This new line will mostly run underground using Maglev technology allowing speeds of up to 500km/h. The first section between Tokyo and Nagoya is scheduled for completion in 2027.