Shinkansen (新幹線, litteraly “new great line”) is the Japanese word for both the super-express trains as well as the railway network in service in Japan.
Japan pioneered high speed trains when it launched its service back in 1964. After 40 years of service, the network had transported 4,2 billion passengers. The service is known for its efficiency, its punctuality, its spotless cleanliness and – this being Japan – the quality of service on board.
Maximum speed has raised from 210 km/h in the 1960s to 320 km/h now (the new Hayabusa trains).
Again, this being Japan, trains bear different poetic names according to the series and the speeds reached. You can therefore travel onboard a Kodama (こだま, echo), a Hikari (ひかり, light), a Nozomi (のぞみ, hope), a Mizuho (みずほ), a Sakura (さくら, cherry tree), a Tsubame (つばめ, swallow), a Hayate (はやて, gust), or on the fastest of them all, a Hayabusa (はやぶさ, peregrine falcon) …The list is nearly endless.