Commonly called “Bullet Trains,” shinkansen refer to the high-speed trains used by the Japan Rail Company. There are many different styles which are identified by name or class number, such as the Kodama or N700 Nozomi.
The first bullet trains and tracks were introduced in 1964, and since that time, there have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or collisions. This is especially impressive when looking at the statistics: trains rum up to 320 km per hour (200 mph), and there are up to 13 trains per hour on popular runs such as the one from Tokyo to Osaka, with only 3 minutes of headway between some trains. Trains have 16 cars and seat 1,323 passengers.
Part of this amazing safety record results from Japan Rail’s exacting standards of adhering to a strict timetable, and part to the excellent earthquake detection system to stop trains before there is a problem. By riding the shinkansen rather than cars, tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide are prevented from being added to the atmosphere each year.
The recognizable design of the trains has become one of the symbols of modern Japan and its technology. Enjoy a ride on one during your visit!