Japan boasts of one of the best railway networks in the world and also is the master in developing high-speed trains
One of major breakthroughs in the rail network of Japan is "The Shinkansen". Popularly called as the bullet-train, the Shinkansen is a network of high-speed bullet lines that has been functioning since 1964. The first Shinkansen operated between Tokyo and Osaka, the Tokaido Shinkansen and ran at a speed of 200km/hr.
Today the Shinkansen functions between all the major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu. The main functioning Shinkansen lines are:
- Tohoku Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Tokyo and Aomori.
- Nagano Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Takasaki and Nagano.
- Tokaido Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Tokyo and Osaka.
- Sanyo Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Osaka Station and Hakata.
- Kyushu Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo.
- Joetsu Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Omiya and Niigata.
- Akita Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Tokyo and Akita.
- Yamagata Shinkansen: Operates between the cities of Tokyo and Shinjo.
Shinkansen Trains: Usually the Shinkansen trains have two seating classes named 'Ordinary' and 'Green cars.' The Ordinary cars have seating arrangements in rows of 3x2 seats. The foot space is comfortable and the seats are regular.
The Green Cars can be compared to the business class seating in airplanes. The seats are larger and have more foot space as compared to the Ordinary Cars. Seats are arranged in rows of 2x2 and the crowd is less.
In 2011, a new class called the 'Gran Class' was introduced on the new trains running on the Tohoku Shinkansen line. This class can be compared to the first class on airplanes; the seating arrangement is in rows of 2x1 and guests are provided with additional facilities and services.
Reservation: Many Shinkansen trains offer reserved and non-reserved seats in different cars. The Hayabusa, Hayate and Komachi trains along the Tohoku Shinkansen route are full-reserved trains; the Green Cars on all the Shinkansen trains are also fully reserved. Reservations can be made up to a month in advance of the journey till a short time before the departure of the train. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket counter, vending machines or also online.
Facilities and Services: Almost all the Shinkansen trains offer snacks, boxed meals (not halal) and drinks along the journey. There are also a few vending machines with pay phones and drinks. On the newest trains guests can also have access to wireless internet services.
Announcements are made on upcoming stations in different languages. All the Shinkansen trains are equipped with clean multiple toilets.