Japan is a motherland of high speed railways and a bullet train (shikansen), the technologies that are widely developed today in many other countries. A bullet train is the world's first high speed train. Its services started in 1964 with speeds at 130 mph; this was the fastest train at the time, and many countries (including the USA) still have no trains, running at this speed. The country's railway network has been developed more than thirty five years and covers all the main routes.
Many Japanese high speed trains have no parallel in any other country today. For instance, the bullet train between Hiroshima and Kokura covers the 192km or 120-mile distance in only forty two minutes. It develops the speed of 162 mph, which is the fastest scheduled train service in the world.
New high speed trains are constantly developed, maintaining the leading technological position of Japan in the world. The Japan Times has announced this year that East Japan Railway Co. launched a new bullet train, named Fastech in the town of Rifu, the Miyagi Prefecture, which will run at the speed of 223 mph and may make it the fastest train in the world. The train is to be put in service in 2011 on the new section between the Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori stations in the Aomori Prefecture. The test runs between Sendai and Kitakami, the Iwate Prefecture, will be conducted at the maximum speed of 251 mph. The train is equipped with a new air-brake system in a case of an earthquake or another emergency. There is also additional equipment to conventional brakes that help slow the train more quickly.
Contemporarily, Japanese high speed trains operate with an average speed of 186 mph and in fact, the Japanese achievements in technologies of bullet trains have always led the Europe's interest in making trains go fast. Since the appearance of the first bullet train in Japan, trains throughout the world run faster and faster.
Summing it up, when traveling around Japan, the high speed railway is an ultimate choice, since there are several benefits if compared to an automobile and airplane travel, and the reason is not only the fast speed. The Japanese high speed railway has a very developed infrastructure and network, connecting all major cities. The contemporary railway network has Tokyo as its center and spreads its lines to the west and north of this area. Airports and highways have a limited capacity to serve passengers during the peak travel times and it is usually necessary to make preliminary reservations, while the high speed railway is comparatively free. Although traveling by train is convenient and inexpensive, a small proportion of all journeys are made by train today.
The advantage of the high speed railway over the automobile or bus traveling is obvious, since it can move passengers at faster speeds, but the disadvantage is that there are locations, where trains do not go; therefore, you will only play beneficial if your travel is bound to major cities.
The advantages of high speed trains over air jets is that the process of checking in and going through the security screening at the airport takes the same amount of time as if you traveled by train. Thus, it is not faster to travel by air than by train as many consider.
No matter what means of transport you prefer, the only experienced of such speed is worth, when traveling in Japan