Japan's main island Honshu is covered by a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with

most of the island's major cities and Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. Japan's high speed trains (bullet trains) are called shinkansen and are operated by the JR (Japan Railways).

Read more on how to ride the shinkansen.

Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen

The Tokaido Shinkansen, connecting Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, was inaugurated in the year 1964 as the first shinkansen line and the world's first high speed train. In 1964 the trains already run with speeds of about 200 km/h. Nowadays they reach speeds of over 300 km/h.

The extension of the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Sanyo Shinkansen to Hakata Station in Fukuoka was completed by 1975.

The trains operating on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen are of the following three categories:

  • Nozomi: Nozomi trains stop only at the most important stations, and reach Osaka from Tokyo in about two and a half hours. The nozomi is one of the very few trains on the JR network that cannot be used with the Japan Rail Pass.
  • Hikari: Hikari trains stop a little bit more frequently than nozomi trains, and need roughly three hours to reach Osaka from Tokyo. On the Sanyo Shinkansen, the Hikari trains are known as "Hikari Railstar".
  • Kodama: The slowest category. Kodama trains stop at all stations.
Kyushu Shinkansen

The southern half of the Kyushu Shinkansen, connecting Yatsushiro with Kagoshima, was inaugurated in March 2004. The northern half from Yatsushiro to Hakata is scheduled to be completed by 2010. The trains operating on the Kyushu Shinkansen are called Tsubame.

Content of this article provided by Japan Guide.


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