Shinkansen-this wasn’t the planet’s first high-speed train. However, when ‘the bullet train‘ first made its appearance in 1964, its futuristic, sleek design as well as the to-the-second punctuality made people sit up and take notice of Japan’s railways-making it the envy of the world. Even after fifty odd years having chugged by, train travel in the nation remains to be a source of joy -for tourists and locals alike. Overseas vacationers look forward to getting their hands on to the coveted Japan Rail Pass and other discount tickets.
Trains were first introduced in the 1870s, after Japan opened itself to international trade and bounties of the industrial age-after going through years of self-imposed isolation. The mind blowing Railway Museum at Omiya, located 25km north of the central precincts of Tokyo, is a treasure trove of lovingly preserved rolling stock-which accurately charts the evolution of trains from steam to that of modern day technology. This intriguing place of sightseeing interest also boasts of a driving simulator that allows you to get behind the systems and controls of the world -renowned Shinkansen.(image by Matt Maness)
Read on for interesting ways of celebrating Shinkansen’s 50th anniversary with some of the top rail-related activities and adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Glimpse the Future
Antique rolling stocks and yet another Shinkansen drive simulator introduces some more lures into the exhibits showcased at the famous SCMAGLEV & Railway Park, near Nagoya. Here , you can also gain an advance insight of the future of rail travel journeys in Japan. SCMAGLEV basically refers to super-conductive magnetic levitation – an innovative and smart technology that is expected to enable trains to speed along at speeds higher than a whooping 580 km per hour! The feat was achieved by the world-record-busting Maglev train display at this interesting railway park.
If you are planning to travel by train, then do look forward to buying the gourmet stuff sold on trains and platforms– bent? (boxed meal) and ekiben (a contraction of eki sold at stations) being the most popular of the lot. These are savored by tourists traveling far and wide and generally include regional delicacies. This concept has been taken to higher levels by gourmet bent? meals, which is now being offered to travelers in the stylish dining cars of the Tohoku Emotion–that can be seen transporting excited passengers through the scenic Northern Honshu coast. While the first two courses can be enjoyed on the route from Hachinohe to Kuji, tea/coffee and desserts are served on the way back.
Sleeper Services in Night Trains
Dining car meals are also an integral part of the experience offered by classy sleeper trains like the Hokutosei and Cassiopeia services between Tokyo and Sapporo. The Twilight Express that takes approximately 23 hours to travel from Sapporo to Osaka alongside the dramatic coastline the Sea of Japan is a journey that is indeed worth taking. The luxury cruises on rail include the much acclaimed Seven Stars service between Kagoshima and Hakata in Ky?sh?. It channels the glamour and glitz of the Orient Express with plush upholstered and wood-panelled carriages. (image by naruyan)
Are you ready for taking some great rides-the right way?
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