I left Tokyo on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Kyoto.
Modern Shinkansen on the line from Tokyo to Osaka run at 170mph. Some on other lines run faster than that. Experimental Shinkansen have achieved 360mph. The first Shinkansen ran in 1964.
Bullet trains leave precisely on time. You’d think this would be a redundant thing to say about a train, but please remember, I live in the UK. If you miss your train, your reserved seat is lost, but you can ride on the next one. The trains run very frequently.
I didn’t want to lose my seat reservation, so I turned up almost an hour early. This factored in some “getting bewildered and lost” time, as well as time to get some lunch for the ride. Bento boxes are the common choice for packed lunch – compartmentalised boxes of rice, meat/ fish and vegetables. One bento I looked at had a pull-string which activated some kind of cooker. Pull the string and wait five minutes and your food is piping hot!
Being early also gave me a chance to film another train pulling out. The trains are long – 16 carriages of 25 meters each – 400 meters in total or 1/4 mile:
On board the train, there was plenty of legroom. Tickets weren’t cheap, but nonetheless, the train was packed. Here’s a short film of the view from my window:
The 320 mile journey took 2 hours and 44 minutes. I was riding a slower, cheaper Hikari service. The top-speed Nozomi trains are 31 minutes faster. By way of comparison, the UK’s London-Edinburgh service (Approx 400 miles) will take 4.5 to 5 hours.