Shinkansen, or Bullet Trains, are the high speed trains that will whisk us around Japan during the "traveling around" portion of our trip. When I was in Japan after college, I didn't have the money to travel by Shinkansen, so I'm pretty excited. And Trip, well, what's not to like about pointy fast trains if you are a four year old boy. This time, we have Japan Rail Passes for unlimited travel and most of our travels between cities will take only 1.5 to 3 hours. When we return to Tokyo from southern Kyushu, we will have two four hour rides - a long day, but still an amazingly fast ride considering the distance. The inside of the train looks like a spacious airplane, but the seats turn around, so we will ideally be able to set up our own little four seat pods. And my favorite part about long-distance train travel in Japan: bento boxes, beautiful little jam-packed lunch boxes with delicious Japanese picnic food. I can't wait.
Some interesting facts: Shinkansen travel at speeds close to 200 mph with as little as 13 minutes between trains. The Japanese rail system has transported over 7 billion people with no fatalities even through typhoons and earthquakes. It is so precise that a train is recorded as late if it does not leave at precisely the time listed on the schedule. When trains do run late, the average amount of lateness is 12 seconds -- that's right, SECONDS. (Chew on that, Amtrak!)
On our way back to Tokyo, we will be passing Mt. Fuji just like in this photo. So keep your fingers crossed for a clear day and check back here for the pic we'll take just for you.