Known by many international visitors simply as the ‘Bullet Train’, Japan’s ‘Shinkansen’ network connects major cities with high-speed train services that operate on various Shinkansen lines.
The Tokaido Shinkansen Line runs from Tokyo to Osaka and between those services major cities including Nagoya and Kyoto*. It is operated by the Central Japan Railway Company, more commonly known as JR Central.
The following stations are on the Tokaido line:
*Please note, Nagano Station is not a stop on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line however it is a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, which runs from Tokyo Station to Kanazawa Station.
Types of Services
International visitors holding a valid Japan Rail Pass can use any service on the Tokaido Shinkansen – other than the Nozomi – at no additional charge. Three types of service operate on the line:
The fastest service on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, the Nozomi runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka and only stops at Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya and Kyoto. From Tokyo to Shin-Osaka takes 150 minutes, Kyoto takes 135 minutes and Nagoya takes 95 to 100 minutes.
Nozomi services include both reserved and non-reserved seating but is not covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass.
The second fastest service on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, the Hikari also runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, stopping at different stations depending on the specific service. From Tokyo to Shin-Osaka takes 175 minutes, Kyoto takes 155 to 160 minutes, and Nagoya takes 100 to 120 (depending on the service)
Hikari services include both reserved and non-reserved seating and is covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass.
The Kodama service is the slowest on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, stopping at all stations between its start and end point.
Kodama services include both reserved and non-reserved seating and is covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass. However, if you are travelling a long distance i.e. from Tokyo to Nagoya, Kyoto or Osaka (or the reverse journey), we recommend using the Hikari as it will be substantially faster than the Kodama.
Types of Carriages & Seating
Services on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line offer users the following types of carriages and seating:
Most carriages on any shinkansen service will be comprised of ordinary cars including reserved and non-reserved seating*. Ordinary cars typically have 5 seats per row separated by an aisle, with 3 seats on one side and 2 seats on the other. Seats are comfortable and recline with reasonable legroom available. Each seat has a tray table which folds down from the seat in front and power access for charging electronic devices. Overhead storage is available above each seat however it is worth noting that larger luggage can be difficult to store.
Reserved and non-reserved carriages share the same layout with no difference in comfort. Toilets are available in the area between every second carriage. On most services, a conductor/ticket inspector will move up and down the train and can be approached for assistance, while a service attendant moves up and down the train with a trolley of food, snacks and drinks. If the train is particularly busy it might be difficult for the attendant to make their way along the train, so grab them while you have the chance.
Most shinkansen services will have one Green Car, identified by a green four-leaf clover symbol. These cars are reservation only and slightly more expensive than seating in an ordinary car. Seats are more spacious and comfortable with more legroom. There are only 4 seats per row, divided by an aisle with 2 seats each side. More generous spacing also allows more room for luggage.
Extra features including a reading lamp and footrest make the Green Car comfortable. Popular with business travellers, these carriages are typically quiet and can be compared to business class on an airline. For the relatively small price difference, Green Car is a good option for travellers who want that extra bit of comfort and quiet.
Fares & Timetable
A one-way fare from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station will cost JPY13,870 for a non-reserved seat and JPY14,520 for a reserved seat. A Green Car seat will cost JPY19,590.
From Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station will cost JPY13,320 for a non-reserved seat and JPY13,970 for a reserved seat. A Green Car seat will cost JPY19,040. From Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station will cost JPY10,560 for a non-reserved seat and JPY11,100 for a reserved seat. A Green Car will cost JPY14,750.
Please note, all prices are correct as of June 2020 and there may be slight variation across Nozomi and Hikari services. Numerous daily services operate on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. For details including the timetable, please refer to our ‘Tokaido Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
Ticketing & Travel Passes
Tickets can be purchased at any major station using the shinkansen ticket machines or Japan Rail office (both will be clearly marked). English-speaking attendants are usually on-hand to assist at major stations. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online up to 30 days in advance of your intended date of travel.
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travellers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of the Hokuriku and (for some passes) other shinkansen and train services.
Japan Rail (JR) Pass
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travellers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars.
The JR Pass allows for use on the Tokaido Shinkansen other than Nozomi services. Hikari and Kodama services can be used at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).