Shinkansen, literally “new main line,” is Japan’s bullet train system and a world leader in high speed rail.
The rail system started with a line between Osaka and Tokyo more than 55 years ago with a goal to connect distant parts of the country to the capital.
Service has expanded to nine lines since the first route opened in 1964 in time for the first Tokyo Olympics. Speed varies depending on how many stops there are on the line but on the fastest routes the trains are capable of going nearly 200 mph.
Despite the speed, the trains are extremely safe. There have been more than 10 billion riders since the Shinkansen opened and there has not been a single passenger death because of a train accident during that time.
In 2018 I took the Hokuriku line which ends in Kanazawa. The spur first opened in 1997 in Nagano, Clearwater’s Sister City, for the Winter Olympics. In 2015, the extension of the line to Kanazawa opened. The line there has helped open the city to tourism and other economic opportunities, I learned while I was there.
The trains are sleek, and inside, the cars are roomy and comfortable. The stations are clean. There’s very little litter most places throughout the country, but compared to train stations I’ve been to in the U.S. and Europe, the cleanliness is notable.
Among the photos are Tokyo Station, Kanazawa Station and a random passenger who fell asleep on my shoulder while riding a commuter train.
Shinkansen and other rail lines connect cities, are a convenient way to get around and, yes, very fast