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Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train), Most popular train to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata from Tokyo.


hikari_shinkansen

Shinkansen (Bullet Train) at Tokyo station

Shinkansen is operated by JR Groups. It is one of the fastest train in world and sometimes called “Bullet Train”.  It has a different tracks from the local line. JR has now six Shinkansen lines.

Tokaido Shinkansen is the oldest and busiest Shinkasen line and it is operated between Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. Sanyo Shinkansen is operated between Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka). Both lines are connected each other. Some of the fastest train, “Nozomi” go through from Tokyo to Hakata. Since Kyushu Shinkansen was started to operate between Hakata and Kagoshima Chuo, it was connected with Sanyo Shinkansen at Hakata. Many trains are operated between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo directly. Please see the post, Kyushu Shinkansen to get details.


View Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train) in a larger map

If you are looking for the images of accommodations, please see the following posts:
Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery
Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery
Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho and Sakura

Types of train

There are three types of trains on Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen.

Nozomi

“Nozomi” is the fastest train. It takes 2 hours 21 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto, 2 hours 36 minutes from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka, and about 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Hakata. (Shin-Osaka is one local station away from Osaka. Shinkansen does not have a station in downtown Osaka.) Nozomi is operated every 10 minutes during daytime between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and operated every 20 to 30 minutes between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. All Nozomi are operated by the newest fleet N700 series. This train stops at Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima and Kokura. Some of this stops Shin-Kobe, Himeji, Fukuyama, Tokuyama and Shin-Yamaguchi.
*Be careful! The station name that has “Shin” is mostly NOT located in the city center. It is usually a few local stations away from city center.

Japan Rail Pass is NOT valid for Nozomi. Japan Rail Pass do not cover anything. If you want to take this, you have to pay full fare.

Hikari

You cannot take Nozomi by Japan Rail Pass. Your choice is the second fastest train, it is called “Hikari”. It takes about 2 hours 45 minutes from Tokyo to Kyoto, about 3 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka, and about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Hakata. Hikari is operated every 30 minutes during daytime between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and operated every 20 to 30 minutes between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. Most of Hikari are operated by 300 series. But 300 series will be discontinued to use on March, 2012. Newer 700 series will be replaced and some of Hikari will be operated by N700 series. Every Hikari stop Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura. Some of Hikari stop Odawara, Atami, Mishima, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Gifuhajima, Maibara, Nishiakashi, Himeji, Aioi, Shin-Kurashiki, Fukuyama, Shin-Onomichi, Mihara, Tokuyama and Shin-Yamaguchi.

So the differences between Nozomi and Hikari are following:

  • Frequency (Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) — Every 10 minutes Nozomi / Every 30 minutes Hikari
  • Time required (Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) — 2 hrs 36 mins Nozomi / 3 hrs Hikari
  • Accommodation — Nozomi by the best and newest fleet / Hikari by a bit older fleet

What do you think? Of course Nozomi is better and faster. But Hikari is good and fast enough to travel to Osaka or Kyoto from Tokyo. It is acceptable in my opinion. If you cannot accept it, you need to give up to use Japan Rail Pass anyway.

If you want to check the difference of interior of those trains, like 300, 700 and N700 series, please see the following posts:
Tokaido Shinkansen image gallery
Sanyo Shinkansen image gallery

Hikari train formation

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

Hikari Rail Star

R:Ordinary class reserved seat NR:Ordinary class non-reserved seat G:Reserved Green class (First class seat)

Hikari Rail Star

If you travel from Shin-Osaka to Hakata, some Hikari is called “Hikari Rail Star”. This Hikari uses a specialized car and has short 8 cars train formation. It does not have Green class. But the reserved seat of the ordinary class has 2+2 seating instead of a regular ordinary class 3+2 seating. It is much more spacious and comfortable. But non reserved seat is same as a regular seating 3+2. I strongly recommend to take this train. But don’t forget to have a reserved seat!

*Since Kyushu Shinkansen was completed, Mizuho and Sakura are operated between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. Some of Hikari Rail Star are still operated. But these trains are replaced of most of Hikari Rail Star. But the fastest train, Mizuho cannot be used by Japan Rail Pass. Mizuho is same type of train as Nozomi. Sakura is same type of Hikari. Mizuho and Sakura have better interior and accommodation. Please see the detail at Kyushu Shinkansen N700 series for Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame image gallery.

Hikari Rail Star train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
NR NR NR R R R R R

R:Ordinary class reserved seat NR:Ordinary class non-reserved seat G:Reserved Green class (First class seat)

Kodama

Kodama is the slowest train and stop every stations on Shinkasen Line. So you don’t need to take this except going to the station where Hikari does not stop.


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57 Comments to “Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (Bullet Train), Most popular train to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata from Tokyo.”

  1. Erty Mertjoe says:

    What is the best transportation from shin Osaka to Osaka station, Mr. TAKESHI? By JR train or Midousuji subway? My family & I will be arriving there from Tokyo by Nozomi on 31 July and stay at Intercontinental Osaka. Thanks.

    • Hi Erty,

      JR trains is much easier to catch and faster to get Osaka.
      One station away by JR and 3 stations away by subway.
      Please see the details about Shin-Osaka station at the following link:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/station-information/shin-osaka-station-guide-how-to-change-shinkansen-haruka-thunderbird-and-local-train-access-to-osaka-umeda-and-namba.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Erty mertjoe says:

        Thanks for your explanation, Mr. TAKESHI.Now I need your help to find out is it possible for us to change the time of Nozomi green car advance tickets(route Osaka to Tokyo on August 4th). I have bought 4 tickets for 1.30 pm to tokyo and wanna change to 11.00 am on the same date . Sorry for troubling you again . Thanks; )

        • Hi Erty,

          You can change it once without any handling charge before departure time.
          Of course if Green seat of 11:00 am departure is sold out, you can’t change it.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • Erty Mertjoe says:

            Dear Mr. TAKESHI,
            Many thanks for your explanation again:)
            FYI, My family & I will arrive in Tokyo on July 30 around 5.30-6.00 pm (with SQ flight from Singapore). We want to send over our 3 big luggages to Intercontinental hotel osaka by advanced luggages delivery service from Narita. Any suggestions which luggages delivery company is the best in service & price for me to use? As I have informed you before, we will go to osaka for the next day (31st July. 2.00 pm) by Nozomi, so we hope that our 3 luggages have been arrived by that day at Intercontinental hotel Osaka.
            Best regards,
            Erty Mertjoe

          • Hi Erty

            I know there are several cargo service companies in Narita. But I don’t have a price list.
            I think there is not much difference among the companies. All companies can deliver next day.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Reddy says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Can you tell me a place in Tokyo/Kanagawa where I can buy the shinkansen ticket from Osaka/Kyoto to Hiroshima (to & fro)?. I have already purchased Tokyo to Kyoto (to & fro) and I cannot avail JR pass or JR west rail pass since I am a foreign national (without temporary visa).

    Thank you in advance.

    Reddy

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Reddy,

      You can purchase in any JR stations in Tokyo and Kanagawa. Even you will purchase a ticket for Osaka-Hiroshima, you can purchase it at any Midori no Madoguchi (reservation window) throughout Japan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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