bullet train

Further details about Shinkansen fire incident emerge

New information has emerged about the tragic incident that occurred on the Tokaido Shinkansen line earlier this week. In what appears to be a case of suicide via self-immolation, two have died — the elderly man who lit himself on fire and a middle-aged woman who was accidentally caught up in the incident.

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Two die after man sets himself alight on bullet train in Kanagawa Prefecture

Japan Railways’ high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains have, since their inception, been famous for their timely arrivals and paramount safety. But that record was marred today by a self-immolation suicide that claimed the lives of two people on board a train travelling between Tokyo and Osaka.

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Free Wi-Fi now available on Tohoku Shinkansen, inside Tokyo’s Yamanote Line stations

Every now and then, Japan takes a shine to something that’s new to it but much more common overseas. Chairs, for example, were pretty much nonexistent in the country until the late 1800s, but now you’ll find them in just about every home except the most bare-bones of bachelor pads. Beer (one of the greatest beverages to enjoy while sitting on said chairs) is another foreign concept that’s gained mainstream popularity.

Likewise, although it’s taken some time to catch on, the number of places offering free Wi-Fi in Japan has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and is now available on the Tohoku Shinkansen and all of the stations on Tokyo’s most convenient train line.

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Just how fast is Japan’s new maglev train? See for yourself【Video】

It may not be due to begin ferrying passengers between Tokyo and Osaka for another 10+ years yet, but Japan’s magnetic levitation (maglev) train is already zipping up and down a special section of test track in Yamanashi Prefecture, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Check out our video of this thing in motion – oh, and try not to blink because you really might miss it.

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We take a luxurious trip to Aomori in the first class section of the bullet train

For most people, getting to fly first class in an airplane to some far off destination is a fleeting dream, too expensive to actually accomplish. So for those of you wishing you could enjoy free slippers and a dedicated cabin attendant but don’t want to shell out half a year’s salary to do it, look to the first class section of the shinkansen, Japan’s high speed bullet train.

One of our Japanese reporters took a ride on the Hayabusa E3 Shinkansen in “Gran Class” from Tokyo all the way up north to Aomori and documented his luxurious trip. Take a look inside his first class cabin experience!

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$2.34!? Cheapest bullet-train ride in Japan lasts 3 minutes, but memories are forever【Photos】

Ask anyone in Japan if they love the shinkansen, and they’ll probably say yes. Commonly known as the bullet train, it’s convenient, handsomely designed, and the train’s aerodynamic nose is surprisingly an artisanal masterpiece, carefully formed by hand out of numerous metal plates in order to achieve the perfect curves.

Becoming a conductor of one is a typical kindergarten dream, and while a lot of kids grow out of that phase, some emerge as bona fide train fanatics who go by many monikers: tetsu-ota, tetchan, tetsu-kichi (as in “crazy”), you name it. Unfortunately, travel by shinkansen may be fast and luxurious, but it’s generally not cheap—for example, a three-hour one-way ride from Tokyo to Ōsaka can cost around 14,300 yen (US $140).

So what’s this about a 240-yen ticket in Nīgata Prefecture that has train enthusiasts all abuzz? A seasonal train station that’s actually part of a ski resort? A place called “Cowabunga” 125 miles north of Tokyo? Let comedian and self-declared train otaku, Ayako Suzukawa, be your guide today!

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Silver 1,000 yen coin to be issued for Shinkansen’s 50th anniversary

Japan first started issuing commemorative coins in 1964 to celebrate the Tokyo Olympic Games two specially designed coins face-valued at 100 yen (US$0.98) and 1,000 yen, respectively. They would be the first in a long string of special coins celebrating events such as an Emperor’s 60th year on the throne and the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition’s 50th anniversary.

October 1 marks the 50th anniversary of the Japan’s famous bullet train lines, and so the Ministry of Finance has seen fit to put out yet another pair of coins. The first one revealed puts the legendary train lines right up there with Japan’s other iconic symbols.

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Race against the clock: Shinkansen staff have just 7 minutes to get bullet train ready to ride

Japan’s shinkansen, or bullet train in the West, was the world’s first high-speed train running at 200km per hour, and today the Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the world’s most used high-speed rail line. Impressively, even with over 120,000 trains running on the line each year, the average delay time is a mere 36 seconds!

Part of the reason the bullet train system can run as smoothly as it does is thanks to the ‘hospitality group’ working behind the scenes of the sleek, futuristic facades of these famous trains. These cleaning crews are charged with covering every inch of a train’s interior when it arrives at its final stop and preparing it for the next wave of customers–and they have just seven minutes to do it.

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We Take Our New Wii U for a Ride on a Bullet Train, Works Like a Charm

The Wii U — Nintendo’s first new home console in six years — may not be available until next Saturday here in Japan, but that didn’t stop our team getting hold of a North American unit and getting stuck into some quality gaming early.

Gamers among you will already know a little about Nintendo’s newest baby, but for the uninitiated, here it is in a nutshell: the Wii U combines the remote-wielding mayhem of everyone’s favourite Nintendo system with a unique new controller featuring a touch screen that can be used with or without a TV set, all topped off with a layer of gorgeous high-definition visuals. The idea is that the player uses the screen to interaxct with their games in a new way or, as we did here, use the gamepad screen in place of a TV set.

Sounds good, right?

But until we got our hands on a Wii U, we never fully appreciated just how much of a game-changer it was. We’ve played Sony PSP and Nintendo DS consoles on the go for years now, but imagine being able to take your actual home games console out on the road. Or how about on a high speed train…

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