Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.

E5 series is a flagship fleet on Tohoku Shikansen. this fleet is mostly used for Hayabusa and Hayate.
E5 series is a flagship fleet on Tohoku Shikansen. this fleet is mostly used for Hayabusa and Hayate.

Tohoku Shinkansen is the second oldest Shinkasen (a.k.a. Bullet Train) line in Japan and it connects Tokyo with Shin-Aomori via Ueno, Omiya, Fukushima, Sendai, Morioka and Hachinohe. “Tohoku” means Northeast in Japanese. So Tohoku region is north part of Honshu island (main island).

Many trains of Tohoku Shinkansen are coupled with Akita Shinkansen “Komachi” or Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa”. These trains give you direct access to other cities in Tohoku area. And also the trains that go to Shin-Aomori are connected with Hakucho/Super Hakucho and give you access to Hokkaido via Seikan Tunnel.

On March 26, 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen will be opened. This is technically different Shinkansen line. But most of trains will run on both Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen lines. Many trains will connect Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto (near Hakodate). It will be like expansion of Tohoku Shinkansen. Please see the link below to get the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen.

Direct access to Hokkaido from Tokyo, Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train)

I would like to share the information about this Shinkansen train with you.

*If you are looking for the images of these train’s interior, please refer Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery.

Types of train, schedule and trip time

There are four types of trains in service. These trains are all non smoking. You can take any trains on Tohoku Shinkasen by Japan Rail Pass. We don’t have any restriction except the first class that is called “Gran Class”.

Hayate by E2 series on Tohoku Shinkansen
E2 series is still main fleets of Tohoku Shinkansen. But many of this fleets have been replaced by E5 series.

Hayabusa

This is the fastest train that connects Tokyo with Shin-Aomori. This is the first train that has most expensive and luxury seat, “Gran class”. Gran Class is the first ever upper seat than Green Class. When Hayabusa started to run, only Hayabusa had Gran class. But other trains on Tohoku Shinkansen, Hayate, Yamabiko and Nasuno are operated by E5 series and have Gran class too.

All of Hayabusa stops at Omiya, Sendai and Morioka. Some of Hayabusa stop at Ueno, Furukawa, Ichinoseki and Kitakami. And also Hayabusa that runs to north from Morioka stop at most of stations between Morioka and Shin-Aomori. Trip time of Hayabusa are the following:

Tokyo to Sendai — 1.5 hours
Tokyo to Morioka — 2 hours 20 minutes
Tokyo to Shin-Aomori — 3 to 3.5 hours

You can find some more information at the following links:
Extra charge for boarding Gran Class on top of Japan Rail Pass
Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series image gallery.

Hayate

Hayate was the fastest train before Hayabusa was introduced. Most of Hayate was replaced by Hayabusa. Now there are 3.5 round trips between Tokyo and Morioka. And 1 round trip between Morioka and Shin-Aomori run as well. The trip time of Hayate are the following:

Tokyo to Sendai — 1 hour and 45 minutes
Tokyo to Morioka — 2 hours and 30 minutes
Tokyo to Shin-Aomori — 3 hours and 35 minutes

Yamabiko

Yamabiko runs mostly between Tokyo and Sendai. But some of this train goes to Morioka. Most of Yamabiko stop at Ueno, Omiya, Utsunomiya, Koriyama and Fukushima between Tokyo and Sendai. A few Yamabiko skip Ueno, Utsunomiya and Koriyama. Meanwhile some of Yamabiko stop at all stations on this section. Yamabiko that run to Morioka stop at all stations between Sendai and Morioka.

Some of Yamabiko are coupled with Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa” between Tokyo and Fukushima.

Nasuno

Nasuno is operated as short distance transfer train and is operated between Tokyo and Oyama, Nasu-Shiobara or Koriyama only. This train stops all stations on this segment.


View Tohoku Shinkansen (Bullet Train) in a larger map

Stations

Station Hayabusa Hayate Yamabiko Nasuno
Tokyo (東京) x x x x
Ueno (上野) * x * x
Omiya (大宮) x x x x
Oyama (小山) | | * x
Utsunomiya (宇都宮) | | * x
Nasushiobara (那須塩原) | | * x
Shinshirakawa (新白河) | | * |
Koriyama (郡山) | | * x
Fukushima (福島) | | x
Shiraishizao (白石蔵王) | | *
Sendai (仙台) x x x
Furukawa (古川) * x x
Kurikomakogen (くりこま高原) * x x
Ichinoseki (一ノ関) * x x
Mizusawaesashi (水沢江刺) * x x
Kitakami (北上) * x x
Shinhanamaki (新花巻) * x x
Morioka (盛岡) x x x
Iwatenumakunai (いわて沼宮内) * x
Ninohe (二戸) * x
Hachinohe (八戸) * x
Shichinohe (七戸十和田) * x
Shin-Aomori(新青森) x x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop |: all trains skip

Accommodations and train formation

There were many types of trains on Tohoku Shinkansen before. But now E5 and E2 are main stream of Tohoku Shinkansen. And E3 series for Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa” and E6 series for Akita Shinkansen “Komachi” are coupled with Hayabusa or Yamabiko. Andt E3 series and E6 series are sometimes used as Tohoku Shinkansen trains.

*If you are looking for the images of these train’s accommodations, please refer Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen image gallery. And also you can see some images of E6 series on Akita Shinkansen and E3 series on Yamagata Shinkansen.

Train formation

E5 series (images)

Hayabusa and Hayate formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
R R R R R R R R G GC

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G GC

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G GC

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

E5 series + E6 series

E6 series is usually used as Komachi. But some of Tohoku Shinkansen trains (not Hayabusa and Komachi combination) are operated as these two series combination. Please see Akita Shinkansen post to see the image of E6 series.

Hayabusa formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
R R R R R R R R G GC G R R R R R R

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR NR

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR NR

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

E2 series (images)

Hayate formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G R

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR NR NR R G R

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G R

R:Reserved Ordinary class seat NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class seat G:Reserved Green class

E5 series + E3 series (previous Komachi fleet)

This E3 series was used as Komachi before E6 series was introduced. This E3 series is the extra train sets for peak hours and seasonal operation. Some of Yamabiko and Nasuno are operated as these two series combination.

Yamabiko formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
NR NR NR NR NR R R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR

Nasuno formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G GC G NR NR NR NR NR

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

E2 series + E3 series (images)

*E3 series for Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa is sometimes used for Nasuno with E2 series.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
NR NR NR NR NR NR R R G R G NR NR NR NR NR NR

NR:Non Reserved Ordinary class R:Reserved Ordinary class G:Reserved Green class GC:Reserved Gran class

54 thoughts on “Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.”

  1. Hello
    I am looking for some advise. I am coming to Tokyo at the end of october and want to do a couple of day trips. I will have a JR rail pass. Whats the best route via train to do a day trip from tokyo to Shiroishizao ? and also i would like to do a day trip to the snow monkeys – tokyo to Nagano and then onto Yudanaka- will the JR pass cover that too?

    1. Hi Shiv,

      You can take Tohoku Shinkansen trains. Please check the timetable in the links below:
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_tohoku_d/index.html
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_tohoku_u/index.html

      You can get Nagano by JR Pass. JR Pass covers Hokuriku Shinkansen. But after arriving Nagano, JR Pass does not cover any transportation to Snow Monkey Park. Snow Monkey Pass is recommended. Please see the links below:
      http://www.snowmonkeyresorts.com/access/snow-monkey-1-day-pass/
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2016-winter-tohoku-chubu-chugoku/trip-to-tohoku-chubu-and-chugoku-in-2016-winter-part-9-visit-snow-monkey-park-in-nagano.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Dear Mr Takeshi,

    i would like to travel from Tokyo to sapporo with bullet train. It is my 1st experience to be in Japan. would like advised from you which bullet train will go to sapporo without any transit or interchange?

    TQ

  3. Dear Takeshi,
    Thank you for the detailed information on this site. I would like to visit Tohoku from 7 – 14 July, 2016. I arrive in Narita on 7th morning and wish to take the shinkansen straight to Yamagata when I plan to stay may 3 or 4 nights. I am mostly interested in cycling around Yamagata villages and to cherry farms (still have cherries?). Am interested in Sakata and Aomori, Can I stay in Yamagata and make day trips to Sakata and Aomori?

    How much will the train tickets be? Or is it better to get the JR East Pass (Tohoku?). Thank you.

    1. Hi Kwee,

      First of all, I’m not familiar with cycling and fruits there. So I answer your inquiries about train trip.
      You can get Sakata from Yamagata as day trip. You need to take Yamagata Shinkansen to Shinjo and Rikuu West line. Train does not run very frequently on Rikuu West line. You should check the timetable before you go. You can check the timetable at Hyperdia.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Aomori can be accessed by Senzai line to Sendai and Tohoku Shinkansen.

      If you make all these trips, JR East Pass Tohoku is cheaper. You can get the fare at Hyperdia too and you can compare the pass and single fare.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,
    Appreciate very much if you could advise me which JR pass to buy. My itinerary is:
    30/4 : arrive Tokyo, stay 1 nite
    1/5 : shinagawa to morioka, then morioka to Kitakami, back to morioka, stay 1 nite
    2/5 : morioka – hirosaki-morioka, stay 1 nite
    3/5 : morioka to kakunodate, then to shinagawa
    4/5 : shinagawa to kamakura (day trip)
    5/5 : shinagawa to Nikko (day trip)
    6/5 : book a day tour
    7/5 : shinagawa to ibaraki (day trip)
    8/5 : shinagawa to lake hakone area
    My main concern will be my first 5 days transport as I can skip 7/5 & 8/5 to go nearby area.
    Thanks.
    Kind regards
    Kheng

          1. Hi Takeshi-san,
            One more question, if I reserve my train seats (cos I’m traveling during the busy golden week) for say a 10am train. if I decide to change to another timing for the train eg 11am, can I do it? Will I be charged for changing my booking? thanks.

  5. I would like to reserve seats as followings:
    – 2 adults + 2 children (4 and 2 years old)
    – 30/4/2016: Morning train, From Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori
    – 2/5/2016: Late afternoon train, From Shin-Aomori to Tohoku Shinkansen
    – Train: Hayabusa
    Thank you

  6. Dear Mr Takeshi,

    I am sorry for my last mail to you regarding online reservation. I made a mistake because you actually had sent me the link on online reservation of seats. However due to flight time late I am not able to collect the ticket one day before. I will have to reserve the seats at the ticket office in Japan.
    Thank you for your helpfulness.

  7. HEI,
    We are planning a day trip from Tokyo – Shiroishizao Fox Village.
    I couldn’t find the ticket price for bullet train. Any tips?

    best regards,
    P.James

  8. Dear Takeshi / JPRail

    I just wondering, is it SHINKANSEN YAMABIKO from Ueno to Utsunomiya covered by Kanto Area Pass fully or I need pay for some extra fare? And can I get reserve seating class in this route?

    I plan to watching MotoGp live race next month and still confusing choose between go with a tour or independently. That’s why I need your information, to help me decide. (^_^)

  9. Hello Takeshi, your column is very comprehensive, and helpful, so…I will start my Japan trip in Narita, go directly to Kyoto for.4 days, then I go to Kitamaki, then to Morioki and return to Narita area hotel. I will be in Japan 12-13 days, so I think best plan is to buy ‘JR East Pass. The kind that is good for two-weeks and you can use ‘5 times during the two weeks. This pass costs $178 I believe.

    I don’t think I can use for Narita to Kyoto, but, can I use to go from Kyoto to Kitamaki, then to Morioki and back to Narita.

    So…would ‘JR East Pass be the best plan for what I want to do?

    thank you in advance,
    Bob

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your comment about my website.

      First of all, I would like to make sure that you mean Kitakami and Morioka.
      JR East pass does not cover Kyoto as you think. If you mean Kitakami and Morioka in Tohoku region, you have to go back to Tokyo when you go to Morioka/Kkitakami from Kyoto. JR East pass is not a good choice. If you use this pass, you have to add about 26,000 yen on top of JR East Pass. JR pass 14 days is cheaper than single fare (Tokyo-Kyoto) + JR East Pass.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve. When you submit your comment, the page will be reloaded and nothing happens. But your comment will be shown when I approve. Please click submit only once and wait for my approval.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals

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