Travel News

New trains and new routes to travel in Japan

The new Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Line is just 66 kilometers long.

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Traveling by train in Japan is one of the wonders of our modern world, whether that’s whizzing through the countryside on the Shinkansen at up to 320 kilometers per hour (200 mph), relaxing on a comfortable regional express train (known as Limited Express trains in Japan) or enjoying a peek into Japanese culture on a ‘Joyful Train’ day-trip excursion.

With Japan closed for so much of 2020-2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors who missed riding the country’s trains have many new options.

So if you haven’t been to Japan for a few years or are planning your first visit, here are some of the great new – and refurbished – trains to put on your list.

The long-mooted high-speed line connecting Nagasaki to the rest of the Shinkansen (bullet train) network is now running to its interim end at Takeo-Onsen. A total of five stations are now complete in the hilly coastal region in far western Japan, which was previously served by slow conventional trains.

These have now been replaced by Kamome (Japanese for “seagull”) services aboard brand-new N700S trains featuring a smart white livery and striking cabin interiors designed by Mitooka Eiji, the Kyushu Railway Company’s design partner. It’s a must-ride for any train lover, not least because of how you get to it.

Local politics means that the rest of the line has yet to be built. In the meantime, passengers cross the platform to one of the Relay Kamome or other Limited Express trains to connect to the rest of Japan, usually at Shin-Tosu Shinkansen station or the Hakata station in Fukuoka.

At Nagasaki, the newly redeveloped train station features a fantastic new dining and shopping precinct, with delicious local fare to sample – try the traditional Castella cake adapted from recipes brought by Portuguese sailors visiting Japan.

The interior of Kyushu Railway Co.'s new sightseeing train, dubbed Two Stars 4047.

Japan’s Joyful Trains – tourist excursion day-trip trains focusing on culture and local specialties – are a delight…

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