Since it first opened in 1964, the Shinkansen (bullet train) has become just as synonymous with Japan as Mount Fuji, sumo and sushi. With currently 2,400 kilometres of track, the bullet train line acts as the back bone of the country linking the northern tip of the main island, Honshu, to the southern reaches of Kyushu Island.
On the platform you will join an orderly queue at marker points and wait for the sleek nose of the train to glide into the station, stopping within centimetres of the markers. Before you know it, you will be shooting across the country at speeds between 240 and 320 km/h but the ride is so smooth and noise levels are so low that the only clue to how fast you are travelling is the scenery darting past the windows.
Standard class seats are spacious, comfortable and have plenty of room. The conductors politely bow as they enter and exit each carriage and a refreshment trolley passes through with beautifully presented bento lunch boxes as well as chilled cans of Japanese beer.
If you prefer first class travel, then Green Class is the Shinkansen equivalent to business class on flights. Less crowded than standard class, the seats are configured 2 x 2 and offer more comfort and larger seats.
14th March 2015 sees a brand new Shinkansen line opening that links Tokyo with the popular sightseeing city of Kanazawa on the Japan Sea Coast. Famed for having one of Japan’s best gardens, historic samurai quarters and many traditional crafts, the 285 mile journey from the capital to Kanazawa will take just two and a half hours.