Tokaido Shinkansen

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The Tokaido Shinkansen is a bullet train that travels from Osaka to Tokyo as part of the Tokaido line. It is owned and operated by JR Central. Opening in 1964, the Tokaido Shinkansen is one of the fastest trains on the planet. It has also served the most passengers of any high speed train in the world. With a total of over 4.5 billion cumulative passengers, the Tokaido Shinkansen has served more than any other train in the world combined. Shinkansen is the Japanese word for “Bullet Trains.”



The idea behind the train began in the 1940’s, out of urgency for transporting the growing population in Japan between those two areas in less time. The original design was for the train to travel at 93 MPH, or 150 km/h, which would have been over 150% of the speed of the next fastest high speed rail in the world. The train was also designed to go to the 4 most populated and travelled to areas of Japan: Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Construction on the train finally began in 1959, after a long delay due to financing and the war, and was completed in 1964 to be launched along with the 1964 Olympic Games. When the tracks and train were finally completed and launched in 1964, the train was able to travel at 200 km/h. It took only 3 years for the train to have transported its 100 millionth passenger, and in less than 10 years the train had already moved its 1 billionth. The first female driver of a bullet train was the driver of the Tokaido Shinkansen, but nowadays she usually trains other drivers rather than drives the train herself, and normally she trains drivers on the JR West lines. Soon, the train hopes to complete their N700 Series, which is expected to offer free Internet services to its passengers. This will also allow better communication between the driver and service employees, which will hopefully reduce future risk of injury.


Currently there are three train types that travel this line. They vary according to speed, but from slowest to fasted the three trains are the

  • Kodama – This train stops at all stations and currently takes approximately 4 hours to complete the journey.
  • Hikari – Like the Kodama, this train stops more often than the fastest train, and the trip takes about 3 hours.
  • Nozomi – Nozomi is the fastest train in on the line, and the entire trip takes only 2½ hours. It, however, only stops at the most important locations, often skipping over the smaller areas. It also cannot ridden with the JR Rail Pass.

The Revenue from the line has reached over 1 trillion yen per year. To put that in perspective, the revenue from all of the rest of the Tokyo Consumer Belt combined is only 850 million yen. The Tokaido Shinkansen earned 1.043 trillion yen in 2006 alone.

Shinkansen Tour

The Tokaido Shinkansen is also the primary railway for the Shinkansen tour, which takes visitors to Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto/Osaka to various landmarks and other areas worth sightseeing in Japan, and the most expensive tour which includes a guide and hotel costs a total of only 42,000 yen, or approximately 400 American dollars. The tour is supposed to cover the entire history of Japan and takes 2 days (making the total only 21,000 or 200 dollars per day).

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