For many travellers to Japan, a visit on a Shinkansen, or bullet train, is an journey in itself. The super-fast trains, which journey at speeds of as much as 300 kilometres per hour, are sometimes essentially the most environment friendly technique to journey between main cities, and a two- or three-hour bullet train journey is a possibility to calm down and make amends for emails, and an excuse to tuck into one of many bento field meals offered at each station.
If you might be travelling on Japan’s latest Shinkansen line, nonetheless, it’s possible you’ll must rethink your lunch plans. The Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Line between Takeo-Onsen in Saga Prefecture and the town of Nagasaki is solely 66 kilometres lengthy, and the complete journey takes simply 23 minutes.
The new route, which launched on September 23, is operated by Kyushu Railway (JR Kyushu). The second Shinkansen line on Kyushu, it is the shortest Shinkansen line in Japan. A check drive previous to launch attracted a neighborhood media contingent of 140 individuals eager to report on the improvements of the train known as Kamome, or “seagull”.
The new Class N700S Shinkansen has a extra aerodynamic design that produces seven per cent much less vitality than earlier fashions and has improved braking. It additionally has lithium-ion batteries which can be utilized in earthquakes and different emergencies, so the train can proceed to the closest station with out overhead energy, in addition to glossy interiors by veteran industrial designer Eiji Mitooka.
Kamome options three reserved seating carriages and three carriages with unreserved seating, and travels at speeds as much as 260 kilometres per hour. Passengers can have fun their journey by buying a variety of omiyage, or souvenirs – from beer to desserts to Bandaids – many emblazoned with the phrase, “Come on Kamome”.
There are plans to increase the Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen line to attach with the prevailing Kyushu Shinkansen line, though no timeframe for the undertaking. It is widespread to construct Shinkansen strains in levels, given the complicated funding negotiations between nationwide and native governments.
Japan’s Shinkansen community has turn into a logo of the nation since launching 58 years in the past in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The system carries 477,000 passengers a day – round 6.5 billion because it launched nearly 60 years in the past – with a mean delay of lower than a minute. Reportedly, there has not been a single fatality on the community on account of a crash or derailment throughout that point.
The Shinkansen community is credited with serving to enhance native economies. When the Kyushu Shinkansen line was opened in 2011, financial progress in Kagoshima Prefecture on the southern tip of Kyushu, 1200 km away from Tokyo, was estimated at greater than 46 billion yen ($A490 million).
Shinkansen trains additionally assist drive tourism. Although the brand new line solely covers a brief distance, Kyushu Tourism supervisor Simon Metcalfe is hopeful that it’s going to assist elevate consciousness about Kyushu as a vacation spot.
“People know about Nagasaki and its history but there is so much within this one island, from hot springs to islands with beautiful beaches,” he says.
Australians planning to go to Nagasaki even have the choice of taking the sluggish route. A brand new sightseeing train, the Futatsuboshi 4047, travelling between Takeo-Onsen and Nagasaki, launched on the identical day as Kamome (the identify interprets as “Two Stars”, these stars being the Saga and Nagasaki prefectures).
Also designed by Eiji Mitooka, the train journey takes a leisurely three hours, giving company loads of time to gaze out of the massive home windows and luxuriate in bento containers that includes native delicacies reminiscent of Saga beef and Ariake Sea seaweed. The train operates every day from Friday to Monday.
Shinkansen followers have one other launch to stay up for: Japan’s first magnetic-levitation train, on account of begin working on the Chuo Shinkansen line in 2027. Travelling at as much as 600 kilometres per hour, largely underground, the brand new train will scale back the journey time between Tokyo and Nagoya from 100 minutes to only 40.
Prices for the train from Hakata (Fukuoka) and Nagasaki begin from 3600 yen ($A39, pre-booked seat, at the least three days upfront).
The author travelled as a visitor of Kyushu Tourism.