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Ganbaro Tohoku

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


The newest train on Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37

The fastest fleet of Tohoku Shikansen E5 series (C) sukhoi37

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.

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 But many of this fleets have been replaced by E5 series.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


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14 Comments to “Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train to Tohoku area from Tokyo.”

  1. Vincent Liu says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am planning on the following trips and hope you can assist with the best options for rail pass purchases.

    9th Jan – Arrive Narita Airport (A.M) to take bullet train to Sapporo (Hokkaido).
    12th Jan – Leave Sapporo (Hokkaido) back to Tokyo/Ueno via Cassiopeia.
    13th Jan – Leave Tokyo/Ueno to Osaka
    15th Jan – Leave Osaka back to Tokyo/Ueno
    17th Jan – Trip to Mt Fuji, Hakone, FujiQ [2 days]
    20th Jan – Depart from Narita Airport.

    • Hi Vincent,

      The best option is JR pass 7 days for Jan 9 to 15. And Fuji Hakone Pass for 2 days trip.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/fujihakone/

      I am wondering you are sure that you go to Sapporo on arrival day and taking Cassiopeia on Jan 12.
      It’s about 9 hours trip from Tokyo to Sapporo by Tohoku Shinkansen, Ltd Exp Hakucho and Ltd Exp Hokuto. Are you okay with it?
      As you probably know, Cassiopeia is very hard to book. If you intend to book it after you arrive in Japan, the chance to book is very very slim.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Vincent Liu says:

        In that case i might revise my plans again since i have a better idea after your explaination. About cassiopeia, Is there anyways to book earlier online? or through agent?

        • Hi Vincent,

          Unfortunately there is no way to book it online.
          Most of travel agent do not want to book only train. But you may ask them. Please try to find the nearest agent from the list of JR Pass supplier.
          http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en005.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • Vincent Liu says:

            Hi Takeshi,

            Thanks for your information provided!
            One last question, can any local Japanese (friends etc) assist us with the booking of the Cassiopeia train? If yes, how is the procedure like? Can the discounted price still be obtained without the JR rail pass being registered.

          • Hi Vincent,

            You can ask your friend in Japan. Japan Rail Pass covers base fare when you take overnight trains anyway. So you can ask your friend to purchase only accommodation and express surcharge ticket. He/She can purchase only this portion. Even if you book by yourself after arrive in Japan, you have to these fee on top of JR Pass.

            If you ask your friend, tell him/her to go to reservation window, a.k.a. Midori No Madoguchi at 10:00 am sharp one month prior to departure date.
            ex) If you intend to ride on Jan 11, ticket is on sale at 10:00 am on Dec 11.

            It is very hard to book Cassiopeia. I strongly recommend you to ask your friend to book right after on sale.
            There is no name or other personal info on the ticket. There is no restriction to pass the ticket to anyone. So your friend can book it for you with no problem at all.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Fadzly says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I will be using the JR Pass to travel from Tokyo to Sapporo in Dec.

    For seats reservations on the Super Hakucho train from Shin-Aomori to Hakodate and on Super Hokuto train from Hakodate to Sapporo, can i reserved the seats in Tokyo as well?

    Many thanks.

    • Hi Fadzly,

      You can make a reservation at any JR stations that have reservation window. Most of stations have reservation window that is called “Midori no Madoguchi”. Of course Tokyo station has many windows.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. Loh Yik Min says:

    Hi,

    I would like to travel from Tokyo to Nasushiobara, with minimum cost.

    How should I buy the ticket?
    like need to buy online, need to buy earlier,

    and how to buy the ticket without reserve seat, I saw non reserve seat is cheaper , m I correct??

    many thanks.

  4. KAPIL says:

    we want to travel from TOKYO to KITAKAMI.So please Suggest us which train Will go and minimum time it took and what all the Classes in the train Available and Their Fares.
    We are planning to go to KITAKAMI On 17/09/2014 and Return to TOKYO on dt.23/09/2014.

  5. Rami says:

    I’m visiting Japan very soon and I found your website AMAZING and helpful! Thank you so much!
    Maybe it’s because I’m a little nervous but I’m confused- at the train station with a JRP pass do I have to buy NO ticket? And just get on board?
    If so does that mean I should check that the train I board is one with non-reserved seats? Because I saw on your Narita page that there are no non-reserved seats on that train.

    • Hi Rami,

      As long as you take non reserved seat, you don’t need to purchase anything. All you have to do is showing your pass at the ticket gate and proceed to the platform.
      However if you have decided which train you will take, you can get reserved seat ticket with no extra charge on top of JR pass. Reserved seat is covered by the pass.
      You can’t get the seat sometimes if you take non reserved seat.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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