Riding the Japanese bullet train

October 22, 2014

Japanese Shinkansen Gran Class

We ended up riding the Japanese bullet train (or Shinkansen) by accident. Typhoon Phanfone meant we had to disembark Diamond Princess early and head back to Tokyo from Aomori – and the only way to do that was by the Tokyo Shinkansen.

It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable train rides I’ve ever been on (and that includes riding Amtrak coast to coast in the US and Eurostar across Europe).

Japanese bullet train first class seats






Of course, as it’s Japan, you expect the Shinkansen to run on time and be spotlessly clean. But we were in ‘Gran Class’, and Oh. My. God. The first thing we noticed was the size of the seats (which reclined)…

Shinkansen slippers







…and that there were slippers in little bags to put on and pillows and eye masks if we wanted them. Plus hot towels, and foot rests and personal lamps.

Tokyo Shinkansen #selfie







The whole set-up was like flying in the front of the bus on a plane, only the scenery is constantly changing. This is my Very Smug About Being On The Tokyo Shinkansen #selfie. #notevensorry

Tokyo Shinkansen bento box








Drinks (alcoholic and soft) were complimentary, and there was a choice of light meals, either Western-style or Japanese. Both Harriet and I opted for Japanese and were given our own very cute bento boxes, and it was delicious…

Tokyo Shinkansen Gran Class attendant









…the Gran Class carriage attendant was ADORABLE and bowed every time she entered the carriage or left it. She was constantly smiling at us. And bowing. Honestly, loved her.

Japanese Shinkansen seat controls





These were the seat controls. Hours of fun.

Japanese Shinkansen second class








I decided to go and have a look at the regular (second?) class train carriage and discovered that while not quite as special as Gran Class it was still very nice and spacious and the seats looked super comfy in there, too. Basically, it puts our trains to shame.

Looking out the window on the Japanese bullet train







The thing I really liked was that even though the Japanese bullet train does of course go super fast (up to 200mph) it doesn’t actually feel as though you’re going that fast; it’s incredibly smooth. It doesn’t tilt so you don’t feel sick, and you do get a good view of the scenery (although it was raining and misty a lot of the time, thanks to the rain caused by the incoming Typhoon.)

Riding the bullet train







We arrived in Tokyo after the four-hour train journey feeling completely refreshed and ready to explore some more, and wishing we could have stayed on a little bit longer. How often can you say that about a journey? Now I really want to take No 1 Son on the Shinkansen because I know he’d love it. I’m thinking next year… 😉

I’m just going to share with you what it said on the back of our menu, because it’s so sweet:

“Though merely a brief interlude on route to your destination, we are honored to make your travels a highpoint in your journey.”

I mean, it’s like a haiku, right? Love Japan.

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