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Shinkansen

Nozomi, Hikari, Kodama, Mizuho, Sakura

Differences In SHINKANSENS

Want to take bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto area but not sure which line to take? Read more to learn about bullet trains in Japan.

The bullet trains Nozomi, Hikari, Kodama, Mizuho, and Sakura run in either or both sections of the railway networks called the Tokaido Shinkansen Line and/or Sanyo Shinkansen Line, which are divided into different sections with different companies that regulate them. 

Shinkansen Map

The Tokaido Shinkansen is the swift Japanese bullet train line that runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. Regulated by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), the 3 Shinkansens that run throughout the Tokaido line include the Nozomi (the fastest among the 3 bullet trains), Hikari, and Kodama

The Sanyo Shinkansen is another network of swift bullet trains between Shin-Osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka City), which are 2 of the biggest cities in the western areas of Japan. The locomotive services throughout the Sanyo area is controlled by the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) excluding the area of Shin-Osaka which is regulated by the JR Central. 5 of the Shinkansens that run throughout the Sanyo line includes the Nozomi, Hikari, Kodama (3 of which also run in the Tokaido areas), Mizuho and Sakura.

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Nozomi Bullet Train

Valid for JR pass holders by purchasing an additional ticket

The Nozomi is the swiftest train among the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. Its stopping points are limited to the amplest of train stations between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. Nozomi's fastest train edition, the N700 series travels from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka (a distance of 515 km) in roughly 2 hours & 22 minutes, sustaining its rate of movement at 168 mph (270 km/h).

Hikari Bullet Train

Valid for JR pass holders

Hikari is a swiftly traveling locomotive service running within the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines. This train makes more stops compared to the Nozomi, but it reaches destinations faster than the Kodama shinkansen, which makes even more stops. 

*Hikari is the quickest bullet train that the JR pass covers.

Kodama Bullet Train

Valid for JR pass holders

The train name "Kodama" is interpreted as the word meaning "echo". This train comes to a halt at all stations that the Nozomi passes on its route inside the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. This makes this locomotive service the slowest of all shinkansen and is used mainly to transfer between minor stations such as Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture. Train goers within exclusive towns, such as Tokyo & Osaka popularly travel on the Nozomi or Hikari transportation suppliers, making smaller amounts of stopping points. 

Mizuho Bullet Train

Valid for JR pass holders by purchasing an additional ticket

The Mizuho bullet trains include the JR West & JR Kyushu's N700-7000 & N700-8000 series running between Shin-Osaka & Kagoshima-Chuo. This series includes train sets of 8 cars by its quickest travel time at 3 hours & 45 mins, a few of them being 25 minutes faster than the Sakura bullet trains.

Sakura Bullet Train

Valid for JR pass holders

Regulated by the JR Kyushu, the Sakura Bullet Train travel within Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. The Sakura route and destination are similar to that of the route the Hikari takes where both of the trains stop in Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura, Hakata, Kumamoto and Kagoshima etc. 

Shinkansen Station

Overall Contrast

The difference between bullet trains that are valid with the JR Pass (Kodama, Hikari, Sakura) and the invalid trains (Nozomi, Mizuho) is that the valid JR Pass locomotives tend to have more stopping points, which stops at minor stations when compared with the Nozomi or Mizuho services. Although the extent of its maximum speeds is roughly identical, the time towards the destination differs as one group of trains stop less than the other. 

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