Japan – The Zen Of Train Travel

Its not hard to argue the merits of train travel, as it’s still one of the most civilised forms of transports ever invented. To find out how far the simple technology of the steel wheel on iron rails has come in the last two centuries, you need to look no further than Japan. Boasting one of the world’s most extensive and advanced railway networks, the country’s railway system is an excellent tool for travel; renowned for speed, efficiency, and an enormous choice of crazy destinations.

Needless to say, comfort, cleanliness and punctuality are bywords in Japan, and the railways are no exception. If train travel is the best way to go, then the region is one of the best destinations to experience it.



From the opening of the country’s first railway line in 1872, between Shimbashi and Yokohama, Japan’s railway system has developed into the world’s most advanced. Today, the extraordinary network and the myriad of private companies comprises the total length of 20,000 km over the four major Japanese islands, with 26,000 train departures a day. The miracle of how Japan was able to build the world’s first Bullet Train, opening in 1964, less than 20 years after the destruction of the Second World War is the stuff of legend and political intrigue.

The iconic Shinkansen travels, with Mt Fuji as its backdrop


What is often surprising, however, is the variety of trains on offer. The famous Shinkansen (bullet train), reaches maximum speeds of 240-320km/H along busy metro lines. Then there’s the vintage diesel railcars on quaint, local branch-lines. Throw in a pleasing number of immaculately maintained heritage and steam railways, and you’ve got a hot-spot for rail enthusiasts!

Banetsu Monogatari steam train to Niigata



On railway journeys to Japan, we explore new territory by catching all matter of trains to all matter of places. Naturally, your travel will be designed to experience the huge diversity of trains, tracks and technology in Japan. From the modern, neon-lit capital of Tokyo, to the moving Hiroshima. Or, enjoy Sumo-wrestling to railway museums, stunning temples and samurai-sword making…it’s fair to say we are in for a rare feast of what there is on offer in this crazy country.

The traditional, yet ‘state-of-the-art’, Japan never fails to astound, with its wealth of architectural treasures and stunning natural scenery. Managing to preserve this ancient and sacred culture, whilst simultaneously harnessing cutting-edge technology (the bullet-train being a prime example), is what intrigues and astounds me about this mysterious country.



A few years ago, I visited with my 12-year-old daughter. What made our journey memorable was the huge variety of things to do and see; catering to both our interests. Mine being fulfilled by a trip to Himeji castle, where the entire structure of the massively tall castle is built around giant trees that form the main structure—cut from single logs centuries ago. Hers, enticed by the crazy fashion and wacky characters of Harajuku, and the vast city view from our wall-sized window in our hotel-at night resembling a hive of lights and energy. Japan appeals to people of every sorts. The result? A perfect travel destination!

Himeji Castle


Railway Adventures are running a 2017 tour to Japan that looks like it’s going to be a winner. Showcasing all aspects of this iconic country, on some of the world’s greatest trains, you’ll want to check it out.


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