Japan by Bullet Train

More commonly known as the bullet train, Japan’s Shinkansen rail network first wowed the world at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, pioneering the way for high-speed travel.

Bullet Trains

Whether you want to tour the country by rail, head off for a weekend in the mountains or simply experience the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku Station (which is believed to host a staggering three million people every day), the bullet train forms a vital part of any Japan itinerary. With a complex network of lines linking the very north of the country to the very south, the bullet train has become the reliable backbone of Japan, joining the rural to the cosmopolitan in the blink of an eye.

While train travel has a reputation for maintaining a leisurely pace, the bullet train offers routes across Japan with blistering speed and soundless stealth. Snaking its way across Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese archipelago, the bullet train rattles up and down the country at a staggering speed of up to 200 miles per hour. As synonymous with the Land of the Rising Sun as Mount Fuji, sumo, or sushi, the bullet train is arguably the only way to travel in Japan and attracts visitors from far and wide. 

Japan is known as a country of binaries, and the bullet train is a fantastic way to see its contrasts. Starting in Tokyo’s Shinjuku station, which is believed to be the busiest in the world, the spectacle begins before you’ve even set off. Sitting at one of the station’s ramen stands and soaking up the buzz of the station guarantees an incredible snapshot into daily life in Japan. From Tokyo, head west across the Japanese Alps to Kanazawa, only a two-hour train ride away yet a journey back thousands of years. From here, you can either jump on the train to Hiroshima for a harrowing insight into Japan’s history or make a beeline straight to Kyoto, the cultural heartland of the country.  

How Easy Is It To Use the Bullet Train?

As one of the most dependable rail services in the world, the bullet train is easy and efficient to use.

You needn’t worry about missed trains, lost luggage, or finding your platform. Navigating your way around the stations couldn’t be easier with the signs clearly labeled in English and platforms directly noted on your train ticket. Leave the logistics to us and sit back, relax and watch the blur of the outside world whoosh past your window.  

What’s It Like on Board?

Even in standard class, cars are roomy, clean, and quite comfortable! However, for a premium experience, opt for an upgrade to a Green Car, which affords you a larger seat that can recline up to 40°, as well as an integrated radio set and a travel magazine.

An empty row of seats and window view of the outside

What Should I Do With My Luggage?

On the bullet train, there are overhead racks that will fit medium-sized suitcases. However, if you have a lot of luggage or would simply rather not carry it yourself, you have the option of an overnight courier service. This is a widely used service throughout Japan and means your luggage will be transported from one destination to another, without you having to take it on the train. This service is very reliable and hassle-free, however, please note that it does take 24 hours for your luggage to be delivered.

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Rikki Poynton

Rikki Poynton

Scott Dunn Travel Consultant

Travel has always been a large part of my life, a passion ignited from my first visit to Russia as a child and my subsequent relocation to Moscow in 2010. After spending five years exploring this amazing, vast country and immersing myself fully in the culture and learning the language, I began my professional travel career at Scott Dunn in 2015.

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