Shinkansen–the Japanese Bullet Train
This one is the green JR line which stands for Japan Railways. The Nazomi Shinkansen train is the fastest with the fewest stops. They can travel up to 150-200 miles an hour.
Tips for the Japanese Bullet Train
- Do not buy reserved seats, buy non-reserved. Usually, the first 3 cars or last 3 cars are non-reserved. There’s no difference, and if you have reserved seats, you have to find your exact car. Non-reserved also offers you more options. Trains can be 16 cars or 8 cars depending on the need, and the trains stop at the exact platform markings. One time, we got in line for a 16 car train, and it turned out to be an 8 car and the train had stopped early on the platform. We had to run to get to a car, but had several to pick from.
- Try and get the last seat in each car if you have big luggage. There is a big space behind the last seats.
- Buy food at train stations. I know the idea of eating food from a train station sounds terrible in the U.S., but food at Japanese train stations is remarkably good and quite fresh. We bought good sandwiches and bento boxes that were delicious. You should also buy food in the stations because only the super fast trains like Nazomi have food carts.
- English is displayed on train monitors, but remember, they always add the word “shin” to the front. So Osaka station will read “Shin-Osaka.”
- Trains only stop for 3 minutes, so be prepared. Make sure you stand on the left and let passengers off before you get on the train. My suggestion is to get there early, get in line immediately, and then once you get on the train, get out of the way as soon as possible. They will not wait on you. Trains are never more than 36 seconds off schedule.
- Bathrooms are available on bullet trains.
- Hooks are also available next to seat for jackets and bags. Small bags can fit in upper shelves, but not bags bigger than 21 inches.
- All seats face forward. When the train turns around, there is a little foot peddle that turns the seat the opposite way. Sometimes families of 4 will turn one set of seats so they can face each other. If you do this, you can create a small space for big luggage between the 4 seats.
- Out of respect, you should carry trash with you and place your seat in an upright position for the next customer.
- The trains are very clean and every once in a while, a conductor will stamp your ticket.
- Keep your ticket–you need it to exit train station. You will need to put your ticket through the turn stile, or else you can’t exit. Always keep your ticket handy.
- Smoking is only allowed in one car.
- No seat-belts. I found that odd, yet they have not had one accident in 50 years.
- The subway systems have special lanes for women. So if you are a man, stay out of the pink zone.