Monday, September 21, 2009


This morning, I took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Nozomi from Tokyo to Osaka. It's the fastest intercity train in the world, with a top speed of 300 km/hr (186 mph). (I'm excluding the airport connection train in Shanghai, which I'll take on Wednesday, as while it is faster, it doesn't go between major cities).

The distance between Tokyo and Osaka is a bit over 300 miles, roughly comparable to Philadelphia to Boston, New York to Buffalo, Chicago to St. Louis, or a little less than Los Angeles to San Francisco. The Nozomi takes less than two and half hours. That's amazing. By contrast, the Acela Express train (which theoretically tops out at 150 mph but normally cruises closer to 75 mph) takes fives hours to go from Philly to Boston.

Inside, it looks and feels like a normal train. (I also took the regular express train between Osaka and Kyoto tokay, and I could not feel a difference.) In classic Japanese fasion, the tray table even manages to contain a ridiculous amount of information.

Also, by the way, the conductor can tell you exactly when the train will pass Mt. Fuji. (About 45 minutes after leaving Tokyo.) This would of course be impossible with the multi-hour delays that the Acela Express normally has.

No comments: