A couple of weeks ago when I went to Tokyo I rode the Shinkansen. I had previously ridden it during my first week in Japan, but since that week was a complete blur, I didn’t get to savor the experience. The Tokyo trip allowed me to take in the entire experience of riding the Shinkansen.
Photo Credit Here.
According to Wikipedia, the Shinkansen is commonly referred to as the “Bullet Train” which is the name I was familiar with prior to moving to Japan. It travels at speeds of 149-186 mph. The experience reminded me of flying on an airplane in that you are assigned a seat, there were 3 seats on each side of the aisle, there were bathrooms, and there was a stewardess selling drinks and snacks periodically in the car. All the foreigners who come to Japan that I’ve talked to have wanted to ride the Shinkansen because of the speed – but when you ride on the train its similar to the experience of riding in an airplane – you know you’re going fast because you are passing things at great speeds, but it doesn’t feel fast – it just feels like you are riding on a train.
I live a short 2 minute walk to the Shinkansen station in Nishi Akashi. It was incredibly convenient the day I left for Tokyo. (It can be a pain though, sometimes when the Shinkansen passes through my town my apartment sways – the first time it happened I thought it was am earthquake!) I was instructed to be on the platform for the train 5 minutes before departure, but I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time so I left 30 minutes before my scheduled departure time. Upon arriving at the station, I walked through the ticket gate just as I would for a regular train. I then climbed the stairs designated for the train I was taking and waited on the platform – it was just like riding a regular train. There wasn’t any security and when I was standing on the platform there were no walls dividing the track from the people on the platform. When I get into bigger cities, I did see that safety walls were in place. I asked for help from a worker on the platform since I had never navigated the Shinkansen alone and I wanted to make sure I got on the right train.
The perks and drawbacks: I got to Tokyo in 2.5 hours – by bus it would have taken 8 hours. BUT, it cost me 3,000 yen round trip. Riding the Shinkansen is definitely worth it for longer trips, but not for short distances!
I found a video on YouTube that features clips of different Bullet Trains ~ Enjoy!