Wishes are granted … Sometimes!
Cut to 27 years later and I find myself at Shinagawa station waiting for guess what, the SHINKANSEN! I was waiting excitedly with my wife and son hoping to see the train for the first time. My son was even more excited waiting for “zupp” (it has to be said with a wave of the hand forward to indicate speed), the train going so fast.
I looked at the clock and it was almost time. I turned around and there it was, with its long streamlined nose and gleaming white exterior. He had managed to sneak up behind me and I saw him standing on the platform waiting for the passengers to get on. We got on the bucolic train and gaped at this wonderful piece of engineering.
With speeds reaching 320 km / h, the Shinkansen is known for its punctuality, comfort, safety and efficiency. Trains depart and arrive on time to the second. The importance given to safety is highlighted by the fact that there have been no fatal accidents in its history.
Inside the bullet train
The interiors of the Shinkansen look like an airplane with comfortable reclining seats. The seats were 2×2 and spacious with enough space on the upper shelves for luggage. All the seats were forward facing and very comfortable. Well, what else do you expect from the Japanese? It has to be the best in its class!
Soon the train started moving and we were excited. What struck me the most was the silence and smoothness of the trip. Not a jerk, a movement. It was as if the train was floating! My son was a bit disappointed because he still thought the train was stopped. It was only when I made him look out the window that he realized how fast we were moving.
Services and comfort
The train has reserved and unreserved compartments. There are toilets at both ends of each compartment with a sink next to it. The toilets have those multiple buttons like a typical Japanese toilet. Typical of everything in Japan, they have made it infallible and have even indicated the correct way to sit in the bathroom. The bathrooms are spacious and have enough space for people in wheelchairs.
Some trains also have food and drink vending machines. In addition, public phone service is also available on the train. At one end of the compartment is a surprise: a smoking room! The Japanese know how to do things with style. The compartments are interconnected and one can move inside the train from one end to the other easily. They even have Braille instructions for visually impaired passengers! Where else would you find such consideration for people with special needs if not in Japan?
We also witnessed Japanese hospitality and courtesy. Every half hour a woman came with a cart, bowed to us, and crossed the compartment. She would bow down again in courtesy. The same thing happened with the ticket driver. Perhaps the only words we heard were “arigatou gozaimas” (thank you in Japanese)
The bullet train fare ranges from 320 to 720 yen, depending on the season. If you are going to be in Japan for a long time, the rail pass can make your commute really inexpensive. There are two categories of seats: ordinary and green car. Some of the newer trains have “Gran Class”, which is super comfortable and luxurious. There are reserved and unreserved car categories listed in them. Reservations can be made online or at the station’s ticket offices and vending machines. Each traveler can bring only two pieces of luggage in addition to the small bags (details are given in the following sections). The train can reach a speed of 320 km / h but inside, you will not feel anything!
Important tips to keep in mind
• There is a train every 8 minutes to Kyoto, so you don’t have to worry about booking.
• It is recommended that you write down your relevant details on a piece of paper to make your ticketing process straightforward. The required details are:
o Number of travelers
o Travel date
o Departure station
o Destination station
o Ordinary or green car
o Reserved or unreserved seat
• Talking on the phone on the train is not appreciated, so refrain from doing so or keep your voice very low
• A good book and headphones are definitely recommended
• A soft toy or any game to keep children interested is also a good idea.
• Line up at the station at the designated location to facilitate boarding and alighting.
• Each traveler can carry up to two pieces of luggage on a train, excluding small bags, with a maximum weight of each luggage that does not exceed 30 kilos and the dimensions do not exceed 250 cm when adding width, height and depth.
But the most important fact about the Shinkansen is that despite being the fastest, the Shinkansen never broke down and was late, never!
So if you’ve ever been on this beautiful beast, share your experience with us and tell us about the most exciting moments. If you are planning to access one of these and have any questions, please let us know and we will help you!