High speed, punctual, comfortable, reliable – what more do you need to say about the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka. Japanese are blessed with a narrow and long country, so a central rail line can serve a huge part of the population. The very different geography of Japan explains the heavy use and convenience of this rail line for majority of population. You get your JR pass before arriving in Japan, which can be cheaper compare to buying individual tickets. We mostly rented the car there that’s why wherever need we bought individual tickets. JR Passes can only be issued prior to your arrival in Japan.
The Tokaido Shinkansen is a shinkansen line that connects Japan’s three largest metropolitan areas (Tokyo/Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto) with each other. It is Japan’s best used shinkansen line with departures every few minutes.
When opened in 1964, the Tokaido Shinkansen was the world’s first high speed railway line. Then trains ran at 210 km/h. Nowadays they reach speeds of 285 km/h. The line is operated by the Central Japan Railway Company, also known as JR Central or JR Tokai. Tokaido is the name of the main road, which connected the former capital of Kyoto with today’s capital of Tokyo during the Edo Period.
The Nozomi is the fastest train category along the Tokaido Shinkansen, serving only major stations and requiring about 2.5 hours to reach Shin-Osaka from Tokyo. There are usually four departures per hour in each direction, and even more during peak hours. Many Nozomi trains continue beyond Shin-Osaka along the Sanyo Shinkansen to Hiroshima or Hakata. The Nozomi is one of only a few JR trains that cannot be used with the Japan Rail Pass.
There are three levels of service on the Shinkansen, which in my words I’ll call “express”, “intermediate”, and “local” stopping at every station and adding significantly to travel time. The faster service comes with a higher price.
You have the option of buying a reserved or unreserved seat. We took the fastest bullet train Nozomi from Tokyo to Kyoto.The train frequency is every 30 minutes, ride time around 2 hrs. The whole journey was superb; the train is fast, quiet and stable. I love the journey especially sitting with the well-mannered Japanese; they are very quiet and speak very softly. The stewardess serves food and drinks in the train at an additional cost as not included in the fare. The train is literally designed for speed (the front “nose” looks like something from a sci-fi film). As soon as your train arrives you have about under a minute to board in order to keep in line with the departure times – so make sure you get to the station in time. It is very comfortable by far than any flight / airline we ever took, much roomier, splendidly clean, and organized. Our kids loved it and my son thought it would be like a rollercoaster but instead was very comfortable and did not noticed sudden breaks or acceleration at all. You don’t feel the speed in the train, but when you look outside the window on trains moving past in opposite direction – it’s extremely fast.At Tokyo it can be bit confusing as the station is very crowded but once you purchase the tickets they will direct you to the correct platforms. As I mentioned before you literally have minutes and seconds to catch these train, which you will feel, naturally rushed otherwise was no trouble at all. Tickets were easy to obtain from any JR office for our destinations and staff were happy to assist with any issues, including changing train times when we found ourselves either late or early for our service.
After the journey we stayed on the platform for few minutes to view all the arrival and departure trains. It picks up the speed very fast on departing from the platform, which we have never seen elsewhere.
In summary the most efficient and best way to travel between towns and major centres in Japan. Another great experience that is a must do in Japan.The train is well maintained, very clean and with comfortable seat.