Here are 5 facts about shinkansens in Japan that you may or may not have already known!
The speeds that the shinkansen clocks up are from 240-320 kilometers per hour
The best way I can liken the feeling of being on a shinkansen is that feeling when a plane is about to take off, and is hurtling down the runway. Everything happening out the window looks like a video playing on fast-forward -- I've had times I had to stop looking out the window of the shinkansen because I started to feel queasy at just how fast all the scenery outside was passing me by!
The route from Tokyo to Osaka is the busiest high speed rail network in the world
A lot of countries now have high speed rail networks - or are looking to incorporate them in the future. Out of all the high speed rail networks globally, that Tokyo-Osaka route is the most trafficked - data from back in 2008 showed an annual passenger flow of 151 million people on that route! You can imagine by now that has no doubt increased (and will inevitably continue doing so, with big events like the Rugby World Cup and Tokyo 2020 Olympics coming up).
Eating is okay on shinkansens!
You may have heard that eating on the normal train network in Japan is frowned upon - but eating on the shinkansens is 100% okay! They even have staff members come down the aisles of the train carriages selling all manner of foods, from bento box meals to ice cream and chocolate.
Shinkansen travel is SUPER reliable when it comes to being on schedule
Data that Japan Rail released in 2014 about train scheduling showed that the average delay for shinkansen routes was 54 seconds. That's across the entire year, across multiple routes, in multiple weather conditions - and craziest of all, it even takes into account delays that are caused by natural disasters. It blows my mind that with all those extenuating circumstances that can cause a train to be late, that you're looking at less than a minute delay when you average it out. Incredible!
The safety record for shinkansen travel is also downright amazing
Since shinkansen travel was introduced to Japan (back in 1964), there have been zero fatalities as a result of derailments or collisions. In a country where weather extremes like heavy snow are common, and earthquakes are a consideration, it's pretty awesome (and very reassuring!) that the safety record is perfect there.