Japan by Bullet Train

I wanted to cross the country in one day. You can do that now, thanks to the incredibly fast bullet trains that connect Japan’s major cities.

The bullet, or Shinkansen, train looks futuristic but celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

Since 2011, it has linked the northernmost city of Aomori, on the main island of Honshu, to the southernmost city of Kagoshima, which is on the island of Kyushu—nearly the distance from New York to Miami.

I left Aomori one morning at 8:28 a.m. Twelve hours later, at 8:14 p.m., my train pulled into Kagoshima. What happened in between was a speedy dream of Japan, a visual rush from bright green rice paddies and old-style Japanese farmhouses to soaring skyscrapers and endless cities.

Throughout the day I sent texts and photographs via Twitter, recounting my version of Japan at 200 miles per hour. What I had not anticipated was that the bullet train would be too fast.

I would begin tweeting about one city we were passing, and by the time I’d finished sending it, we would have arrived at a new one. Between Tokyo and Osaka, cities flew by more quickly than I could keep up with.

So here is my unsolicited slogan for Japan’s bullet trains: “Faster than Twitter.”

Andrew Evans is a freelance writer who is working on a book about his travels around the world as National Geographic’s Digital Nomad. Follow Andrew’s adventures on Twitter @WheresAndrew.


  1. A Montrealer Abroad (@marievallieres)
    January 6, 2015, 3:42 pm

    I am headed to Japan in March and this little tidbit makes me so excited to board the shinkansen!

  2. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer
    United States
    January 5, 2015, 3:28 pm

    I am looking to take the bullet train this spring when I go to Japan. Wow! I love the phrase “faster than twitter” :D Very creative!

  3. B.Delaney
    December 31, 2014, 10:24 am

    I’d like to hear more about the bike trip. RJMang, do you have a website?

  4. Geeky Explorer
    Azores, Portugal
    December 27, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Awesome train trip. And it’s crazy they are celebrating the 50th year of Shinkansen, Japanese people are really ahead of the rest of the planet!


  5. RJMang
    December 25, 2014, 7:10 pm

    I did the exact route recently…. Except I was on my bike.