Even if you’re not exactly a trainspotting otaku, chances are you still find the idea of riding a Japanese bullet train seriously appealing. After all, those things get up to some crazy speeds, and the whole process runs like smooth, scientifically adjusted clockwork. Even the cleaning crew get their job done, making the trains absolutely spotless, in seven minutes max!

But if you haven’t quite made it to Japan yet, then we invite you to take a Shinkansen ride with us and our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley. Strap yourself in and feel those G-forces!

Fresh from her onsen experience after a sweaty time riding the Tokyo trains at rush hour and gulping stinky ramen, Ashley was feeling invigorated and ready for some temples, geisha and matcha during the Kyoto leg of her trip. But first, she had to get from Tokyo to Kyoto, and what better way than to zoom through the Japanese countryside on the Shinkansen?

The Shinkansen (or “Shink” as many foreigners in Japan affectionately call it) runs three classes of train on the Tokaido Shinkansen route which runs from Tokyo to Osaka. “Nozomi” is the fastest, and can get you to your destination in only 2.5 hours (that’s a distance of 500 km, or about six hours by car). Second fastest is “Hikari” at a leisurely three hours, and “Kodama” at a comparatively snail-paced four hours. We wanted Ashley to experience the true speed of the fastest Shinkansen, so we hopped on board a “Nozomi” train.

Once on the train, the first thing Ashley noticed once we started to pick up speed was that her ears were popping! Since the Shinkansen can reach speeds of up to 300 km/h, you can actually feel the G-forces acting upon you, even though the ride itself is smooth enough to fool you into thinking you’re not actually moving at all.

All the excitement was making Ashley hungry, so she decided to purchase an “eki-ben” bento lunch from the cart full of snacks and drinks that rolls down the aisles every now and then. While Tokyo Station actually has multiple stores selling nothing but eki-ben (including self-heating bentos!), Ashley hadn’t had the opportunity to browse the bento aisles since our train was quite early in the morning and we had reserved seats. It’s possible to get a “jiyuuseki” (unreserved) seat ticket for the Shinkansen, but during busy times you might find that you can’t actually get a seat at all! In fact, this writer has had the unpleasant experience of having to stand from Kyoto to Tokyo before – especially annoying when you take into account how much you’ve had to pay for the ticket – the Shinkansen may be super fast, but it ain’t cheap!

But back to bento. While Ashley hadn’t had time to buy an eki-ben at the station, she was nonetheless delighted to find that she could purchase one right from her seat. With a choice of three bentos, Ashley soon tucked in to a delicious array of morsels, many of which she couldn’t immediately identify, but all of which were (reportedly) completely delicious!

Check out our video of Ashley’s entire Shinkansen experience, from boarding at Tokyo to disembarking in the balmy heat of Kyoto!

How happy does she look to be in Kyoto for the first time ever? The first time you ride the Shinkansen it usually takes a few minutes to adjust to the fact that you’ve just travelled a considerable distance in barely a couple of hours. The immediate difference in temperature between Tokyo and Kyoto and the fact that all of a sudden people are standing on the opposite side of the escalators are both clues that help to remind you that you’re now in a whole different region of the country.

But now that Ashley’s made it to Kyoto, the fun’s just beginning! Keep checking RocketNews24 to see what Ashley gets up to in Japan’s traditional capital! Maybe she’ll meet a maiko or two…

All photos © RocketNews24