When traveling to Japan for the first time, many foreigners want to go to the two major cities, Tokyo and Osaka, but do you know that the distance between Tokyo and Osaka is as much as 500km? It takes about an hour if you take a domestic flight, let alone the waiting time plus check-in time at the airport. However, if you take the Shinkansen, you can get on at Tokyo Station and arrive at Osaka Station in two and a half hours! Super convenient! This time, we will introduce the types of Shinkansen that you can get on at Tokyo Station and go to Osaka.

What is the Shinkansen in Japan?

The Shinkansen is super fast!

What is the Shinkansen in Japan?
Provided by: Central Japan Railway Company

"Shinkansen" (新幹線 literally means 'new main line') a.k.a Japanese bullet train is the name of Japanese high-speed railway, which is a train that can run at high speeds of 200 km/h or more. The Shinkansen first appeared in Japan is the Tokaido Shinkansen opened on October 1, 1964 which connects Tokyo and Osaka. The Shinkansen runs at an ultra-high speed of about 285 km/h, but it is trusted for its outstanding safety. When traveling a long distance, it is recommended to use the Shinkansen rather than the ordinary train called "Zairaisen" (在来線 'conventional line').

Which is better, reserved seats or non-reserved seats?

Reserved seats, as the name suggested, can specify the train or seat to board. On the other hand, non-reserved seats can be boarded on the Shinkansen at any time within the range of a specific boarding date and section. However, seats cannot be reserved in advance. If you are traveling for a long time, it is recommended that you reserve a seat in advance to ensure that you have a seat to sit.

Is the Shinkansen Green Car like the first class of an airplane?

What is the Shinkansen in Japan?
Provided by: Central Japan Railway Company

Shinkansen trains consist of "Ordinary Cars" and "Green Cars." In general, Green Cars have wider seats and better facilities than Ordinary Cars. It is exactly the image of an airplane economy class (Ordinary Car) and first class (Green Car). Ticket prices are different, so be sure to pay attention when purchasing.

If you go from Tokyo to Osaka, use the Tokaido Shinkansen!

Because Tokyo Station is large, you can take the Shinkansen, conventional lines, and private railway lines. Among them, there are a total of seven Shinkansen lines that can reach their destinations in a short time, ranging from Hokkaido in the north of Japan to Kyushu in the south.

These are the Hokkaido Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen, Yamagata Shinkansen, Tohoku Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen, Hokuriku Shinkansen, and Tokaido / Sanyo Shinkansen.

The Shinkansen that runs between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station is called the "Tokaido Shinkansen," and the Shinkansen that runs between Shin-Osaka and Hakata Station (Fukuoka) in Kyushu is called the "Sanyo Shinkansen." The Tokaido Shinkansen operates directly with the Sanyo Shinkansen, so if you take the Shinkansen at Tokyo Station, you can reach Hakata without changing trains.

What is the difference between Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama?

What is the difference between Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama?
Provided by: Central Japan Railway Company

Unlike conventional lines, the Shinkansen is nicknamed for each vehicle. There are three types of trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen: Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama. The seating arrangement is the same, but the characteristics differ depending on the train. Be sure to choose the train according to your needs and travel schedule.

Of the three types of trains, Nozomi has the fewest stops and the shortest travel time from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station.

Nozomi (のぞみ)
Hikari (ひかり) 
Kodama (こだま)
Maximum Speed
285 km/h
285 km/h
285 km/h
Departure Frequency
Up to 12 trains per hour
Up to 2 trains per hour
Up to 3 trains per hour
Time required from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station (shortest)
2 hours 21 minutes
2 hours 45 minutes3 hours 42 minutes
On-board Sales
Ticket price
(Ordinary car reserved seat, normal season)
JPY 14,720
JPY 14,400 
JPY 14,400

Please note that Shin-Osaka station is different from Osaka station. Also, if you use the "Hikari" and "Kodama" trains with a ticket exclusively for foreigners (JR PASS), you can save even more!

* JR PASS cannot be used for "Nozomi".

How to enjoy the outstandingly comfortable Shinkansen?

What is the difference between Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama?
Provided by: Central Japan Railway Company

Vehicles on the "Shinkansen" and "conventional lines" are very different. The best feature of the Shinkansen is that the services and facilities inside the train are abundant! Shinkansen vehicles are equipped with toilets, washrooms, and smoking rooms. Even for a long ride, you can ride without any worry.

The seats on the Shinkansen are not "long single row along each side of the train's car" like ordinary trains, but rather rows of two and three seats lined up facing the front or rear of the train, and you can see the view of Mt. Fuji and the sea from the window seats while the train is running! In a spacious seat there is also space to place your suitcase! In addition, the angle of the seat back can be adjusted freely. Also, if you use the folding table in front of your seat, you can eat ekiben (駅弁 train lunchbox) that you bought from on-board sales. Even if you leave in the morning, you can finish your breakfast in the train's car!

In addition, you can use facilities such as mobile outlets for charging your devices and free Wifi, so you can move while enjoying movies and music on your computer or smartphone in a comfortable space!

Let's buy a ticket for the Tokaido Shinkansen!

How and where can I buy Shinkansen tickets? We will introduce them below.

You also need a Basic Fare Ticket and a Shinkansen Limited Express Ticket!

You need both a "Basic Fare Ticket" and a "Limited Express Ticket" for the Shinkansen. Be aware that there are cases where there are two separate tickets, there are also cases where one ticket is used as both a Basic Fare Ticket and a Limited Express Ticket. A "Basic Fare Ticket" is the same as a ticket for getting on a regular train. "Limited Express Tickets" are specially required tickets for upgraded trains that can move "fast" and "comfortably".

How to buy a ticket

You can buy Shinkansen tickets on the Internet, at station's ticket vending machines, and at JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-Madoguchi). If you are worried, you should buy it at the JR Ticket Office where the staff is available. In addition, the ticket price varies depending on whether it is an ordinary car or a green car, and whether it is a non-reserved seat or a reserved seat. When purchasing at the JR Ticket Office, it is much smoother to decide ahead which ticket to buy, fill in the form and hand the completed "Basic Fare Ticket / Limited Express Ticket Application Form" to the staff at the Midori-no-Madoguchi.

Also, even if you have the JR PASS, in case you want to use reserved seats, you still need to reserve a seat in advance, so don't forget before boarding!