#94 Shinkansen

Japan is a big country. In fact, it’s so big that it stretches across three different climate zones. Most of the big cities lie along the coasts, often separated by miles and miles of countryside, forests and mountains. Japanese people can’t spend all day travelling, so short of the technology to invent teleportal machines, they decided to invent the fastest train in the world instead.

Yep, in Japan if you want to go somewhere far, you can get there very fast – on the (appropriately translated) bullet train.

Since it was built 45 years ago, it has carried 7 billion passengers and has not suffered even one casualty, despite the fact that Japan is a country that doesn’t do too well on the natural disasters front. Engineers have taken great care to make it an extremely safe way to travel, by installing brakes and other fail safes to stop the train should they detect a problem with the track.

Taking the Shinkansen isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. It’s smooth, comfortable and the time really does go quickly. With good friends to chat with, the journey goes by before you even settle down to read a book. It took just over an hour to travel from Kobe to Hiroshima.

However, depending on where you go, your view can range from the beauty of Mt. Fuji to the boring blackness of miles of tunnels. Either way, although a pretty view would be nice, the shinkansen was built for speed and will take you whichever way is the shortest route to get there.

The Shinkansen runs so on time that it’s almost scary, and when it arrives on the platform don’t dawdle, you  better hop on that thing because the doors close just a few seconds after letting the previous passengers off. Everything about the Shinkansen is about efficiency and speed which is kind of refreshing compared to the laid-back approach public transport tends to take back at home.

They’re constantly working on expanding the reach of the Shinkansen within Japan, and it’s good to know that tourism and business in many smaller towns and villages are being reivived because people can access them much easier.

It’s exciting to think about all the wonderful places you can be in just a few hours from the Shinkansen entrance.



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