So we’d heard a lot about the legendary bullet trains of Japan. They may have been around in Europe forever and there may be faster ones in China, but they’re still really cool– especially since we don’t have anything like it in America.
It’s weird waiting around for a train that looks like a plane. Underneath the platform is a lot of infrastructure that isn’t immediately obvious. It’s fun to watch the activity going on there while waiting for the trains. What are they doing? Where are they going?
Onboard are all the same amenities you’d expect to find on an airplane, except on a train! For the most part you bring your own food and are given plenty of opportunities to do so before boarding but every now and then a vendor will roll a cart through with some bottled drinks and Japanese snacks. There are also vending machines (for drinks) and restrooms on almost every car.
Once the train starts going, it feels like a plane accelerating for liftoff, except in this case the vehicle never leaves the ground. It’s a little nauseating at first but we got used to it quickly and were stuffing our faces, reading, and sleeping in short order. We even tracked our progress via GPS on our phone. It was amusing watching ourselves crossing large sections of an entire country in real-time.
Going from Tokyo to Hiroshima, if you’re on the right side of the Shinkansen as it leaves Tokyo you’ll get a really nice view of Mount Fuji. The rest of the time, it’s mostly rural towns and farmland. From the left side of the train you can see the ocean for some parts.
If you don’t have a good view you can always excuse yourself to the between-car areas (where the vending machines are) and look out the windows from there.
It’s a shame America doesn’t have anything like the Shinkansen. It’s very fast, very cheap (compared to airfare to cover the same distance) and there are none of the headaches of air travel. No security, no missed flights, no lost luggage, few delays…just buy your ticket, walk right on, and know you’ll get to where you need to be safely and timely.