Sunday, January 27, 2013

Proud Symbol of Efficiency

Shinkansen, AKA "Bullet Train"

We took the Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, from Tokyo to Kyoto.  The ride was super smooth, wicked fast, and the train looks like something out of a science fiction movie.

The marvelous machine can hit pretty close to 200 MPH when at full throttle, although the tracks usually straddle big open space which mitigates somewhat the feel of high speed, so it's not like the thrill you get from an amusement park roller coaster ride.

The price, however, is expensive.  Our tickets were $240 round trip but Jada, my six year old, was free. 

The inside of the train is clean and spacious, and the seats are comfortable with plenty of leg room (after 14 hours cramped in an economy airplane seat that alone is reason to celebrate).  Uniformed employees bow respectfully whenever they enter or leave a car.

The train seats around 1,300 passengers, runs on schedule and, unlike China, has never had an accident. 


Anonymous said...

Incorrect. They've never had a fatality. They have had accidents, including the derailment on derailment from the Chūetsu Earthquake in 2004.

Larry Kelley said...

Okay, how about: "they have never had an accident other than that brought on by an act of Buddah."

Anonymous said...

Much better;-)

Anonymous said...


I'm really enjoying these posts about Japan. I spent 2.5 weeks there not long after the Fukushima disaster. Most of our time was in the southwest of Japan and on the west coast. Visited Kyoto and Hiroshima which was very moving. Your experiences seem to be very similar to mine.

Larry Kelley said...

Our tour guide, a friend and colleague of my wife, was from Hiroshima.

He described himself as Japan's "new generation." (post WW2)

His Mom was out of the city on that day; his Dad was far enough away from Ground Zero to survive relatively unscathed ... although he died of cancer 20 years later.

He said even his parents did not blame our country for the devastation unleashed on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

They blamed their military, who kept the Japanese people in the dark during the lead up to and including the war years.

A common response it seems, since we could not have asked for better treatment during our visit there.

Anonymous said...

Notice the fencing which guards against people falling or being pushed in front of moving trains. Something, I've heard, N.Y. City is now considering...for very good reason.

Larry Kelley said...


Anonymous said...

Two other thoughts after your response to my earlier post and the one on the trains/fences.

First, being an American and in Japan, I felt obligated to go to Hiroshima and visit the memorials there. I don't know if you did that, but the museum and the memorials were very difficult to go through knowing from my reading of history that it could have been avoided. I'm not talking about assigning blame, etc., but simply on the scale of the loss of life and suffering that took place and the devastation. And, yes, everyone was very polite and welcoming, but that is the Japanese way.

Second, the best thing about the trains, in my opinion, was the way they would come into the station exactly on time (we took trains all over and not one train was every off by more than a minute, if that) sand would stop EXACTLY lined up with the marks on the floor of the waiting station.