Cliche? Yes. Cool? Yes.
This image of Japan’s first bullet train whizzing by Mount Fuji is postcard perfect, probably because it IS a postcard! But snarkiness aside, I always get this feeling of luxury combined with wide-open possibilities whenever I ride the bullet-train, known in Japan as the “Shinkansen.” Let’s take a look at what the “Shink” has to offer.
You’re not on Greyhound anymore, Dorothy
Let’s start with the seating. Even in the most standard, unreserved seating areas, you’ve got it pretty good! Chairs are by and large plush, all with trays and plenty of underside space. There’s usually also a hangar for your jacket, etc.
Just be kind and bring socks, OK?
I have to say that the best part is the mandatory footrest attached to every seat. You can rest your tired tootsies while trying to catch a glimpse of the scenery wherever you happen to be…that is, if you can keep your eyes open!
Not only large, but sparkly clean
And there are spacious bathrooms placed generously between cars. Other spaces include changing rooms for baby, as well as smoking rooms. There is no dining car, but that’s just because you don’t need it! On the Shinkansen, the food comes to you.
Even the bento-boxes are detailed here!
This is just one example of one of the colorful “bento boxes” you might receive from one of the lovely train staff coming through each train car. Lunch isn’t free, but it’s worth it.
And what’s inside is even better!
Inside you’ll find a healthy meal that is also surprisingly filling. There’s usually more than one option, so just choose the one that sits better with your stomach. Seafood, pork “katsu,” or beef (all with rice and various other trimmings) are common choices.
Don’t ask me if they all like each other
There are many types of Shinkansen, each with varying levels of speed and luxury…naturally, the faster and more luxurious ones cost more to ride.
I’ve never been on this one; Either I’m not special…
…or I just don’t have the dough!
This newer green bullet has an interior like a first-class airline cabin and could probably beat it past Fuji much faster than that first one, but who’d want to miss the natural wonder?
She’s just waiting to help you out
Regardless of make or model, all the Shinkansen have one thing in common: Devoted staff! When I first came to Japan, I found that most bullet-train staff were used to foreign people coming through and could speak English pretty well. If you have a question, feel free to ask. Then put your feet up and take a ride.