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Japan Travel Guide - Home

Travel the Tokaido Shinkansen on Japan’s famous ‘Bullet Train’ (Photo essay)

The bullet train passes Mount Fuji in Japan
Photo: Mount Fuji, Japan with bullet train in the foreground in the public domain by Swollib

For anyone wanting to see the sights of Japan at absolute speed and in style, the famous Bullet Train is definitely the way to go.  Dubbed the "Bullet Train" due to the trains' speed and appearance, the train service was first started back in 1964 with the Tokaido Shinkansen. 

Nowadays, the network of Shinkansen, or new trunk lines, links most of the major Japanese cities on the islands of Kyushu and Honshu and there is a link to the northern island of Hokkaido underway. Travelling at a maximum speed of 320 km/h (200 mph), these trains get you where you want to go in a hurry and in comfort.
Tokaido Shinkansen
Photo: Tokaido ShinkansenCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Cecil Lee

The following is a brief introduction into the country’s most used bullet train, which takes visitors to all the major Japanese metropolitan areas. For sheer convenience, the Tokaido Shinkansen leaves every few minutes and connects the country’s three largest metropolitan areas - Tokyo/Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto - with each other. This is the perfect method for getting to the major centres of the country, especially if visiting on limited time. Ampersand Travel offers various suggestions for travel and tours in Japan, including various exciting excursions on the bullet train.
Photo: Shinjuku, Tokyo CC by-SA 3.0 Morio

Tokyo is the capital of Japan, which started life as a small fishing village. Nowadays it is not strictly speaking a city, but is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. Tokyo, with its backdrop of the iconic Mount Fuji, is one of the must-see destinations in Japan, offering a special cultural, shopping and dining experience.

Besides the shopping, major attractions to visit in Tokyo include the following:

  • Tsukiji Fish Market 
  • HamaRikyu Garden 
  • Tokyo Tower 
  • The Imperial Palace 
  • Shinjuku Gyoen 
  • Meiji Jingu Shrine
Yokohama skyline
Photo: Minato Mirai, Yokohama City Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic akumach

Yokohama is the second largest city after Tokyo and is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture.  The city nestles around Tokyo Bay, just south of the city of Tokyo, in the Kanto region of the main island of Honshu.  An ultramodern city, Yokohama is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area and perfect for a shopping experience.

Main things to see in Yokohama are as follows:

  • Chinatown 
  • Minato Mirai 21 business district
  • Kanazawa Hakkei
  • Red Brick Warehouse - a major shopping centre
  • Yokohama Baybridge
  • Landmark Tower
  • Nippon-Maru Memorial Park and Museum
Higashiyama Botanical Gardens and Zoo
Photo: Higashiyama Botanical Gardens and Zoo CC by-SA 4.0 Bariston

Nagoya is the largest city in the Chubu region of Japan, located on the Pacific coast on central Honshu. One of Japan’s major ports, Nagoya is the capital of Aichi Prefecture. Worth a visit in the area is the Higashiyama Botanical Gardens and Zoo, pictured above.

Best things to see in Nagoya, besides the Botanical Gardens, are:

  • Nagoya Castle
  • Tokugawa Art Museum
  • Aquarium
  • Shirotori Teien Shrine
  • Atsuta Jingu Shrine
  • Osu - shopping and takeout food
  • Ninomaru Gardens 
Osaka skyline
Photo: Osaka skyline CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Daverson Borja

Osaka, in the Kansai region of Japan, is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture.  Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is historically a merchant city and has been known in the past as the “nation’s kitchen” as it previously served as a centre for the rice trade. 

Things to do in Osaka include:

  • Osaka Municipal Museum of Fine Art
  • Ame-Mura (American Town)
  • Osaka Museum of History
  • HEP Five Ferris Wheel
  • Museum of Oriental Ceramics
Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto
Photo: Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto CC BY-ND 2.0 John Weiss

Kyoto is located in central Honshu Island and was, for more than a thousand years, the former imperial capital of Japan. Now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture in the Kansai region, one major historical nickname for Kyoto is the "City of Ten Thousand Shrines' making it well worth a visit, camera in hand.

Just some of the things to see in Kyoto, besides all the beautiful shrines, are:

  • Ryoan-ji (dry rock garden)
  • Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion)
  • Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion)
  • Toei Kyoto Studio Park
  • Gion (geisha district)
  • Kyoto International Manga Museum
  • National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto
This is a brief introduction into just some of the great attractions available in Japan, easily accessible on the Shinkansen when traveling on the famous Bullet Train. This unique and ultra-modern, but also historic, country never fails to fascinate as travellers return here year after year.

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