Hakata-yuki
January 19, 2015 9:03 AM   Subscribe

How long does it take to get from Tokyo to Hakata riding the Nozomi #11 on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen line? About 5 hours and 14 minutes.
posted by Sokka shot first (31 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is this like the Japanese version of Desert Bus, only recorded live ?
posted by k5.user at 9:04 AM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's hard to appreciate both how fast these things go and how vast Tokyo is. You're aware on some level that you're flying through a city at 400kph, but there just keeps being more and more of it. Trains going the other way are a rush of air, a white blur and gone, five hundred meters of train snapping away like a rubber band. And all of that on a train steady enough that you can balance a coin on an armrest.

If you've never ridden on a Shinkansen or one of the European TGVs you really should go out of your way to try it. It's frankly amazing in a lot of different ways.
posted by mhoye at 9:19 AM on January 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


I hope this is one of those situations where it's okay to comment before watching the entire video.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:21 AM on January 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


If you've never ridden on a Shinkansen or one of the European TGVs you really should go out of your way to try it.

We don't need those fast trains in America because we're too vast, urbanly dense, stupid.
posted by pashdown at 9:24 AM on January 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've made this trip.

The Shinkansen is indeed a striking experience, for Americans in particular. Other countries get awesome trains and we have no choice but to boggle like wide-eyed yokels at what the natives consider an ordinary thing.

I always found it tiring to look out the window like this because you're constantly tasked with switching your focus from near to far and back at short intervals.
posted by rlk at 9:27 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could we jazz it up with a Chemical Brothers track and some artful Gondry distortions?
posted by smrtsch at 9:30 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it really going 250MPH though urban zones? I watched the first 15 minutes. It seems fast and don't doubt the claim. Just amazed.
posted by stbalbach at 9:38 AM on January 19, 2015




Help us, Elon Musk, you're our only hope.
posted by Foosnark at 9:45 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Foosnark: Help us, Elon Musk, you're our only hope.
We are doomed.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:56 AM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


(No, really, I mean that. We won't get high-speed rail until our Chinese overlords install it in order to keep better tabs on their call-center supercenters in Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and Des Moines.)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:57 AM on January 19, 2015


I've been subscribed to this person's YouTube channel for a while. He's got quite a few cab/front window view videos of train rides.

This YouTube user does pretty much the same thing with buses.
posted by Gev at 9:58 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it really going 250MPH though urban zones? I watched the first 15 minutes. It seems fast and don't doubt the claim. Just amazed.

There are no service trains in the world that go that fast. The limit on this line is 168 mph, and even less nearer Tokyo.
posted by grahamparks at 10:06 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it really going 250MPH though urban zones? I watched the first 15 minutes. It seems fast and don't doubt the claim. Just amazed.

No, because the best Shinkansen does 320kph, which is 200mph (the Tōhoku Shinkansen running north from Tokyo.) They've been tested faster, and a maglev variant, which they plan to build out as a line, reached 581kph, or 361mph. The biggest problem with going faster is tunnel boom -- when a long 200mph train hits a tunnel, it's loud, and there is more and more resistance to that in Japan, and a law limiting train noise to 70db in residential areas. Merely running is fine unless you're right on the track, but when they hit a tunnel, it's a real issue.

They do, however, run pretty quick in cities. The Shinkansen lines are not only grade separated, they're traffic separated. Like the TGV running on the LGV in France, if you can't run at line speed, you're not allowed to run at all. There is the Mini-Shinkansen which runs on conventional lines, but they can't run at speed until they get to the Shinkansen lines. They slow for particularly sharp turns, which they tried to avoid creating if at all possible, and of course for station stops. Japan's topography makes long straight runs hard to build and makes sharp curves unavoidable, but whenever possible, they keep the curve radius very high to allow full speed running.

Looking at one line, the Tōhoku Shinkansen, they run at 70mph from Tokyo Station to Ōmiya (at 32 km), then 170mph to Utsunomyia (at 109km), 200mph from there to Morioka (at 496km) and then drop to 160mph until the end of the line at Shin-Amori (at 675km). Most of the run is (unsurprisingly) through the Tōhoku region, which is rather sparsely populated, so the noise issues with high speed running aren't as prominent.

Given that trains in London and Chicago seem to creep out of the city at about 25mph, the fact that they're hitting 70mph right out of the station is impressive.
posted by eriko at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


For those of you who are like me and irrationally like this sort of thing, I offer a couple additional goodies:

Bergensbanen train in Norway, running from Bergen to Oslo central.

And the Hurtigruten boat journey to the Norwegian Arctic, minute by minute. You can also download the full several-day long trip on BitTorrent (a legitimate and fun way to keep Seeding). The highlights on the website are edited and are a bit better.
posted by chimaera at 10:35 AM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember taking the shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima once and somewhere along the way it gave an announcement for the speed saying something to the effect that "we are now travelling at X km/h", which gave the impression that it was its top speed on the route. It was definitely less than 300 km/h

Shinkansen/bullet trains are almost like magic. On my last trip to Japan I went to visit a friend in Nagoya for the day. The regular train from my in-laws' place to Kyoto station was about 30 minutes for a 20km trip. The shinkansen to Nagoya was 35 minutes for a 147km trip.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:39 AM on January 19, 2015


Not shown in this video, but always beautiful to me, is the way Japanese train operators are taught to point and call out to acknowledge signals, timetables, speed gauges, workers on the right of way, etc... (This is apparently where the NYC Subway got the idea of having conductors point at the checkerboard before opening doors).

The idea is to turn a rather passive exercise, driving a train, into something much more active. It's a lot harder to ignore a stop signal you've just physically acknowledged. In any case, it's mesmerizing to stand behind them (on trains where you can see out the front) and watch as they extend their gloved hand and dance their way down the track.
posted by zachlipton at 10:42 AM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Shinkansen from Shinosaka to Tokyo set to VanShe's "So High", mesmerizing (a simple reflex effect involved).
posted by helion at 10:43 AM on January 19, 2015


zachlipton: The idea is to turn a rather passive exercise, driving a train, into something much more active. It's a lot harder to ignore a stop signal you've just physically acknowledged.
Which is in turn just a way of avoiding saying, "Humans are poorly qualified to drive trains, since the job demands invariant, rapid responses to widely-separated events - something computers do well, and easily-distracted, easily-bored primates do very poorly."

The insistance on human operators for trains is the cause of many wrecks.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:50 AM on January 19, 2015


I took the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto once for a day trip. The thing that amazed me was the number of stops. IIRC, we had 3 in Tokyo/Yokohama itself, then only one between Tokyo and Kyoto.

Contrast that will the Illinois High Speed rail proposal between St. Louis and Chicago. About the same distance but we've scheduled 9 stops! You kind of have to stop in Springfield. Maybe Bloomington makes some sense. But the other 7 are ridiculous wastes of time.
posted by sbutler at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2015


sbutler, that's because you took the Nozomi, which makes the fewest stops. The Kodama and Hikari would have made more stops in-between. I would hope in the Illinois line they would do something similar: one train doing only the end-points and 1-2 biggest cities in-between and other trains making more stops.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2015


It's funny, I never used to measure train rides in Japan by the amount of time, but rather the number of Super Dry tall boys.
posted by Metro Gnome at 11:21 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


OMG, the YouTube rabbit hole that I fell into via this post helped me find the answer to a seven-year-old AskMe of mine, within minutes.
posted by avocet at 11:59 AM on January 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


I just love that, given the number of these types of videos on YouTube, it's a legitimate hobby to make videos of public transport journeys.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2015


I just love that, given the number of these types of videos on YouTube, it's a legitimate hobby to make videos of public transport journeys.
posted by ob1quixote


Allow me to introduce my internet friend Lyle who's been doing it for years (his youtube channel is all videos of just such, except from the early 90s)
posted by k5.user at 12:14 PM on January 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


So comfy.
posted by cthuljew at 12:28 PM on January 19, 2015


Most excellent.

(I'm approaching Kyoto now -- traveling through landscape I've read and written about for years but not visited since I was 4.)
posted by Quasirandom at 2:31 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile the passenger train from here to Philly averages 40 MPH, roughly the same speed it did a hundred years ago.
posted by octothorpe at 3:12 PM on January 19, 2015


zachlipton: that's a thing we used to do on submarines, too. Everything from flushing the toilet (in theory) to operating the reactor plant control panel. Point at switch, point at position you want it in, pause, operate, all while narrating what you're doing out loud. Not only does it make you think for a second before doing something stupid, it lets any observer say "whoa! wrong way" or "you forgot to look at THAT meter."

It's a good habit. I've seen bus drivers in Japan doing the same thing, pointing at each of their mirrors and mumbling narration before pulling out.
posted by ctmf at 4:37 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Point at switch, point at position you want it in, pause, operate, all while narrating what you're doing out loud.

Interesting similarities to checklisting. [prv][prv-er]

About the same distance but we've scheduled 9 stops!

Building a station is not the same as scheduling a train to stop at one. But the important thing is, certainly in Illinois, that there is a longstanding Chicago vs. "Downstate" (which is everthing outside the metro area, regardless of direction) rivalry and embitterment. The line is designed to serve downstate communities and thereby get downstate legislative backing, without which it won't get built. The other factor is point-to-point time; conceptually, the upgrades will cut the time between Chicago and St. Louis by a full hour, which will make even US-ian high-speed rail (e.g. 110mph tops) competitive with air travel.

one train doing only the end-points and 1-2 biggest cities in-between and other trains making more stops.

It's unlikely that projected ridership levels will support express/local service bifurcation. In practical terms, I'm not sure there are that many people for whom a 210-minute trip versus a 270-minute trip will make all that big a difference. The point here is providing transit alternatives, not bragging rights.
posted by dhartung at 4:57 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bookmarked for future insomnia (that is a compliment, I swear.)
posted by maryr at 6:51 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


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