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 the primary fleet on Tohoku Shinkansen.

Tohoku Shinkansen is the second oldest Shinkansen (a.k.a. Bullet Train) line in Japan and it connects Tokyo and Tohoku region, such as Shin-Aomori,Fukushima, Sendai, Morioka and Hachinohe. In March, 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen was opened between Shin-Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Hokkaido and mainland of Japan are connected by Shinkansen line via Seikan Tunnel which is the undersea tunnel. This new segment is called Hokkaido Shinkansen and it is technically different Shinkansen line. But many of trains run on both Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen lines. Many trains connect Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto (near Hakodate) directly now. Please see the link below to get the detail of Hokkaido Shinkansen.

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

Many trains of Tohoku Shinkansen are coupled with Akita Shinkansen “Komachi” between Akita and Tokyo or Yamagata Shinkansen “Tsubasa” between Fukushima and Tokyo. These trains offer you direct access to other cities in Tohoku area.

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

Direct transfer to Yamagata and Shinjo, Yamagata 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 But many of this fleets have been replaced by E5 series.


This is the fastest train that connects Tokyo and Shin-Aomori or Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto via Hokkaido Shinkansen. This is the first train that has most expensive and luxury seat, “Gran class”. Gran Class is the first ever upper class seat than Green Class. When Hayabusa started to run, only Hayabusa had Gran class. But now many of other trains on Tohoku Shinkansen, such as 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
Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto — 4.5 hours

You can find some more information at the following links:
Japan Rail Pass can be used for Hayabusa (Revised on Feb 2, 10)

Gran class and all class seat of Tohoku Shinkansen E5 series and Gran class for Hayabusa, Hayate and Yamabiko image gallery

And as I mentioned, many trains run between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto now. Most of trains go to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto is Hayabusa.


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 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 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


Tokyo (東京)xxxx
Ueno (上野)*x*x
Omiya (大宮)xxxx
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)xxx
Furukawa (古川)*xx
Kurikomakogen (くりこま高原)*xx
Ichinoseki (一ノ関)*xx
Mizusawaesashi (水沢江刺)*xx
Kitakami (北上)*xx
Shinhanamaki (新花巻)*xx
Morioka (盛岡)xxx
Iwatenumakunai (いわて沼宮内)*x
Ninohe (二戸)*x
Hachinohe (八戸)*x
Shichinohe (七戸十和田)*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


Yamabiko formation


Nasuno formation


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


Yamabiko formation


Nasuno formation


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

E2 series (images)

Hayate formation


Yamabiko formation


Nasuno formation


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


Nasuno formation


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.


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

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

  1. Hi Takeshi San
    My flight will be arriving Narita T1 at around 0800am on 23Oct2018
    I am planning to travel to Hachinohe via Tohoku Shinkansen with JR Pass. I am very excited about this trip but same time worrying due to the limited train schedule
    1. what is the fastest way to go from Narita airport to catch the Tohoku Shinkansen to Hachinohe?
    2. I need to activate my JR pass and make seat reservations for my onward trip to Shin-Aomori and Akita, will I have enough time to catch the Shinkansen to Hachinohe?
    Your advice is much appreciated

    1. Hi Adriana san,

      You can take Narita Express from Narita airport to Tokyo, and then take Shinkansen to Hachinohe. You will spend probably 1.5 to 2 hours to complete immigration, custom, baggage pick up, exchange JR pass and make a reservation.

      Please see the link below to find the timetables of Narita Express and Tohoku Shinkansen. There are lots of trains running and you can make Hachinohe easily.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi.Takeshi-san..we are couple,.arrive at 2 May 2018 late day early morning 3 May.2018 will go to Midori no guchi change voucher jr pass…and directly reserve ticket to Sapporo.Is it difficult to get ticket on this coming Japan holiday?please help me to have online reservation.Arigato gozaimasu.

    1. Hi Njo Tjin Hok san,

      May 3rd will be very busy day.

      But you cannot book online. You have to book it when you exchange the pass.

      Actually online is available but if you book online, you have to collect a ticket one day before trip date. You cannot pick up a ticket on the travel day. That is why you cannot book online.
      Even if you do not book online, you can access online booking site in the link below. You can find the availability.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi,
    great site you have here, we are a little family (2 adults, 1 child 3yrs.) planning a visit to Japan this October, but are wondering if the JR pass will pay off for us and which one to use?
    Our itinerary are as follows;
    Oct 16. Tokyo-Kyoto
    Oct 17. Kyoto-Kōka, Shiga. Return trip.
    Oct. 19. Kyoto-Tokyo
    Oct 20. Tokyo-Nikko
    Oct21. Nikko-Tokyo

    What do you believe would be best for us? We will probably live close to Ueno in Tokyo by the way 🙂

    Best Regards

  4. Hi. Could you please help me. I am going to travel from Narita T1 to Sano (tochigi) with JRPass
    Is the best way take Narita express to Tokio. And from Tokio can i take the Tohoku shinkansen to OYAMA? I would like to take the best and quickly way. Thanks in advance

  5. Hi , i will visit Japan end of this year. i would like to go to nikko from tokyo on 29 dec, can you suggest how i go by JR Pass ? is there any timetable i should be aware of ?
    thank youf

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