The 50-Year History of the Shinkansen

japanese bullet train

Japan's shinkansen are world renowned. Many visitors to Japan-- whether they use a Japan Rail Pass or not-- have dreams of riding these bullet trains that zip through the countryside and cities alike at upwards of 250 kph.

Did you know the system celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014?

a shinkansen timeline

Planning started before World War II. Some of the designs, concepts, and even the land acquired for the project date back to before the war, in the late 1930s.

1959 - It wasn't until two decades after original planning that ground first broke. In 1959, there was a ground breaking ceremony near what is now Mishima Station. And they worked fast-- it only took 5 years to finish this line!

October 1st, 1964 - The first (two) shinkansen ran on this day at 6 am. One Hikari bullet train started from Shin-Osaka, and the other from Tokyo.

Did you know: the first shinkansen model, the 0 series, was in use until 1999!
1975: The Sanyo Shinkansen, going from Osaka, passing through Hiroshima, and ending in Hakata (Fukuoka) first debuted. 

1985: The second type of shinkansen, the 100 series, was inaugurated. Green class cars were also introduced on these new models.

1992 - The Nozomi shinkansen debuted, cutting time between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka even shorter.

1997 -  The Akita and Nagano shinkansen debuted, just in time for the 1998 winter olympics.

2015 - The Nagano Shinkansen line have a new extension providing service to Kanazawa. The new trains is called the Hokuriku Shinkansen
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