I must confess. I was completely giddy anticipating our Shinkansen trip. Riding the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) has been at the top of my Japan Bucket List. Our trip to Hiroshima was the perfect opportunity.
We boarded the Shinkansen in Shinagawa. Here is the route to Hiroshima.
Considering this is the Shinagawa Shinkansen station, it seemed empty! Our train was on track 23 – car 6.
I took a video and several pictures while waiting for our train at 10:17am. I was only reprimanded once for not standing behind the yellow line! Oops!
The video is of the train leaving. I thought it would show the speed better than the train arriving.
Once on the train, I unpacked our snacks! We packed the needed provisions. A homemade rice ball, veggie sticks, and several chūhai. We settled in nicely for our almost 4-hour journey.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the Shinkansen. My source was Wikipedia and the JR Train website. I summarized and made it reader friendly.
Speed – the maximum is 200 mph. The average speed is between 150-185 mph.
The Route – the Shinkansen tracks are their own separate system. They do not cross roads or go around obstacles. They go through or over any obstacle. Most of the time the tracks are slightly elevated above surrounding landscape. Curves are kept to a minimum. Because as we all know, the fastest way from point A to Point B is a straight line.
The Tracks – the tracks are Standard Gauge (wider tracks – lower center of gravity) vice Narrow Gauge. Being an Austin, I’m not embarrassed to admit I know the difference. Also, the actual rails of the tracks are longer. This reduces the number of welds required and the effects of thermal expansion within the rails and therefore provides a smoother ride.
The Trains – the trains are lighter and can accelerate or decelerate quickly. This reduces the amount of damage to the tracks. Also, the cars are air-sealed to ensure stable air pressure when entering tunnels at high speed.
Side note: I felt the speed the most when going through the tunnels. The combination of the speed and confinement created excessive pressure on my ears.
Environmental Impact – the average ride (per passenger) on the Shinkansen produces 16% of the CO2 produced by the same trip made by a vehicle. Considering the Shinkansen has 342 daily departures with 1,323 seats per train, that’s a much smaller carbon footprint than driving.
Safety – Very. No fatalities from derailments or collisions. Deaths have occurred from people rushing the train and suicides.
Taking the Shinkansen is a fantastic alternative to driving and much less hassle than flying. We were able to book a train, hotel, and tour package at a very reasonable price. I hope when you visit, we have the opportunity to visit another part of Japan via the Shinkansen. You won’t be disappointed!!