Traveling by train around Japan is one of the efficient ways to explore the country scenery and urban landscapes. Foreign visitors can save their precious time and get from one destination to another in a very short time thanks to the modern and expansive railway system. Whether you are being carried through the emerald rice fields aboard the legendary bullet train or winding your way down a mountainous track in the eclectic streetcar, trains are always safe, comfortable and pleasant way to discover Japan.
There are many types of trains used in Japan depending on a speed and distance. Six railway companies (for example, JR Kyushu and JR East) that comprise Japan Railways Group manage the vast majority of passenger trains. Besides, several private companies like Kintetsu and Odakyu Electric Railway operate on regional routes.
Image 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeylikemind/13981848630
Author: P Bibler
Types of trains
Probable, the most famous train and modern Japan’s iconic image is bullet train called shinkansen (新幹線). It offers visitors unique experience of being transported with a speed reaching up to 320 km/h. With its front car that looks like space rocket, bullet train runs through the country without sacrificing safety.
Shinkansen is not only hyper-fast, but also time-efficient way to travel in Japan. The trains depart on time to the second and delays are declared in case of two minutes late. Passengers do not have to worry about time enough for boarding because the carriages stop with clockwork precision and doors in front of platforms’ markings.
The popular shinkansen routes serve Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama and other primary cities. It takes no more than 2 hours to get from ancient Kyoto to the bustling Hiroshima and roughly 2.5 hour from Tokyo to Osaka!
Author: Wally Gobetz
Limited Express (特急) is the most typical way to travel between the cities for those who cannot afford expensive shinkansen tickets. Comparing to ordinary trains, it boasts better coaches, dining carriages and beverage carts. The number of stops is quite limited and includes only the biggest, most-used railway stations.
One of the popular limited expresses called Romancecar operates on a route from Shinjuku in Tokyo to Hakone, Enoshima and Kamakura. During the journey, passengers are able to enjoy some of the best scenery in Japan like seasonally changing countryside and beautiful Mt. Fuji on sunny days.
Express (急行) also makes only a small number of stops, instead of stopping at every single station. However, it is considered cheaper and slower option that limited express. Rapid train (快速) looks more like an ordinary train that stops at the every important station but definitely less than local train.
Local train (普通列車/各駅停車) makes stops at the every single station maximizing the travelling time and minimizing the costs spent for the trip. Many destinations hidden in the countryside are reachable only by local train. In order to cut the time, Japanese usually ride an express as far as possible without passing the location and then hop on a local train.
Many local trains are used for sightseeing the stunning Japanese scenery. For example, Senmō Main Line in Hokkaido runs through beautiful forests of Kushiro-Shitsugen National Park and the Abashiri Quasi-National Park. During the winter season, passengers can watch huge chunks of ice floating in the waters of Sea of Okhotsk.
Author: Yamaguchi Yoshiaki
Primary Japan cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Fukuoka, Osaka etc. are covered with an extensive subway network (地下鉄). The efficient and safe railway system allows rapid movement around their urban areas with a regular frequency. Most subway trains start to transport the passengers around 5 am and finish at midnight. Some of them operate special females-only carriages during the rush hour to protect women from any kind of harassment.
Tokyo has the busiest and fastest subway system that operates within The Greater Tokyo district. It boasts 13 railway lines managed by two major operators named Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. Each line can be distinguished by its own color and number. Changing subway can take up to 5 minutes by walking and sometimes requires going outside to the street. Image 5: https://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/15627149951
Author: Robert S. Donovan