Experience the N700 Shinkansen – Fast, Smooth, And Efficient

Imagine zipping across Japan’s picturesque landscapes at 300 km/h, bypassing traffic jams and airport lines. The N700 Shinkansen, a key part of Japan’s high-speed rail network, offers impressive speed and efficiency.

Operating on major routes such as the Tokaido Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, the N700 often outcompetes flights on short to medium distances due to its overall travel time, convenience, and comfort. 

Whether you’re commuting for business or exploring Japan, the N700 Shinkansen makes travel fast and enjoyable. Passengers can enjoy comfortable seating and onboard Wi-Fi, making long journeys productive and enjoyable. 

This article will guide you on what to expect when travelling on the N700 Shinkansen, how to make the most of your experience, and what to avoid. 

A sleek N700 Shinkansen bullet train is stationed at a busy platform in Tokyo, with passengers walking along the platform. The station has a covered roof and various signs in Japanese and English, including one indicating the escalator. The futuristic design of the Shinkansen contrasts with the traditional look of the station.
The N700 Shinkansen train at the station.

N700 Shinkansen Background 

The N700 Shinkansen trains began operation in 2007, and the N700S, introduced in 2020, represents the latest advancements in technology and comfort. 

The “S” stands for “Supreme,” highlighting its superior features. These improvements include upgrades, such as batteries that allow the train to continue to a station during power cuts, ensuring that essential systems, like the toilets, remain operational. The N700S trains are progressively replacing all earlier N700 trains.

The N700 operates on the original Shinkansen route, which opened for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The route is known as the Tokaido Shinkansen and runs from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. The N700 and N700S Shinkansen trains are also used on the Sanyo Shinkansen (from Shin-Osaka to Fukuoko) and Kyushu Shinkansen (Fukuoka to Kagoshima) lines.

Even though the N700 Shinkansen trains from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka and beyond – to Kyushu – all run on separate tracks, they do not benefit from the straighter routes of the more recently constructed Tohoku Shinkansen which affects their top speed. For example, the E5 Shinkansen can run at up to 320 kilometres (200 miles) per hour on the Tohoku Shinkansen.

Even on the Sanyo stretch between Shin-Osaka and Hakata, the N700 does not run faster than 300 km (186 miles) per hour, and the normal operating speed is 280 kilometres (174 miles) per hour. This is enough for the Tokaido Shinkansen trains to reach Shin-Osaka in two hours and 22 minutes (on the Nozomi service). 

Routes and Destinations

The Shinkansen trains run on dedicated tracks using a different gauge than ordinary Japanese trains. These tracks are designed for high-speed travel and run in mostly straight lines, passing on bridges over rivers and tunnels through the mountains. 

Tokaido Shinkansen

The Tokaido Shinkansen is Japan’s most famous high-speed rail line, running from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. It parallels the historic Tokaido road, a major route during the Edo period.

  • Key Stops: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka.
  • Services:
    • Nozomi: The fastest service with minimal stops, connecting Tokyo to Shin-Osaka in approximately 2 hours and 22 minutes.
    • Hikari: Offers a balance between speed and the number of stops.
    • Kodama: The slowest service, stopping at all stations along the route.

Sanyo Shinkansen

The Sanyo Shinkansen extends the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Hakata, providing high-speed rail service through western Japan.

  • Key Stops: Shin-Osaka, Okayama, Hiroshima, Hakata (Fukuoka).
  • Services:
    • Nozomi: The fastest service between Shin-Osaka and Hakata Station, Fukuoka.
    • Mizuho: The fastest service. It starts at Shin-Osaka and continues beyond Hakata Station to Kagoshima (on the Kyushu Shinkansen).
    • Hikari: This train balances speed with extra stops. It terminates at Hakata Station.
    • Sakura: This train balances speed with additional stops. It starts at Shin-Osaka and continues beyond Hakata Station to Kagoshima (on the Kyushu Shinkansen).
    • Kodama: Local service stopping at all stations and stops at Hakata Station.

Kyushu Shinkansen

The Kyushu Shinkansen connects Hakata in Fukuoka to Kagoshima-Chuo in Kagoshima, bringing high-speed rail to the island of Kyushu.

  • Key Stops: Hakata, Kurume, Kumamoto, Kagoshima-Chuo.
  • Services:
    • Mizuho: Fastest service, often continuing from the Sanyo Shinkansen.
    • Sakura: Slower than Mizuho with more stops.
    • Tsubame: Local service stopping at all stations.

Riding aboard the N700 Shinkansen 

Riding the Shinkansen is vastly more comfortable than riding in an aeroplane. Read on to find out why and what amenities are available on board. 

N700 Shinkansen Exterior

The N700 and N700S series Shinkansen trains are not as iconic as the E5 trains in the Hayabusa service on the Tohoku Shinkansen lines, but the flat, wide nose on the white and blue trains are equally recognizable. The flat nose is also part of the secret behind the smooth ride, breaking up shockwaves and streamlining the train to minimize wind resistance. 

A sleek N700 Shinkansen bullet train is stationed on the tracks at a covered platform in Tokyo. The train's aerodynamic design and modern features are highlighted as it waits next to another Shinkansen train. Tall buildings can be seen in the background, emphasizing the urban setting.
The aerodynamic design of the N700 Shinkansen

Boarding the N700 Shinkansen

Boarding the N700 Shinkansen is straightforward, with the right information.

Pre-Boarding

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, note that it is valid for reserved and unreserved seats on most Shinkansen services but not on the fastest Nozomi and Mizuho trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. To use these trains, you must purchase a special supplementary ticket. 

When you reserve a ticket online, you can select a car for families with children. You can also reserve a seat for people who use wheelchairs, including a companion and parking space for the wheelchair. You can also reserve space for your luggage if it will not fit on the overhead shelf (more about that later). 

Children under six don’t need a seat ticket, but you may want to get them a ticket anyway. Children up to twelve years old pay half the price for tickets.

Finding Your Train

When you arrive at the Shinkansen platform, look for electronic boards displaying departure times, destinations, and train numbers. Your ticket will have the train number and your destination, which can help you identify the correct train. 

Boarding the Train

When boarding, make sure you enter the correct car. Check your ticket for your car and seat number. Car numbers are posted on the platform, platform gates and on LED displays above the doors. 

A sign at a train station platform indicates the car numbers for boarding the Shinkansen. The sign is in both Japanese and English, specifying Track No. 16 for Nagoya, Kyoto, and Shin-Osaka. Braille is included for accessibility. The highlighted car number is 11, with arrows pointing to car numbers 1 and 16 in their respective directions.
The car number and its position on the train are marked on the platform gates. Braille is also included.

The N700 has both reserved and unreserved seats. The number of cars with unreserved seats differs depending on the service and the number of cars. For example:

  • Nozomi (16-car train) – Cars 1 to 3 are unreserved. The remaining cars are reserved.
  • Hikari (16-car train) – Cars 1 to 5 are unreserved, and the rest are reserved.
  • Kodama (16-car train) – Cars 1 to 6 and 14 to 16 are unreserved, while the remaining cars are reserved.

During peak periods, such as Golden Week in May, Obon in August, and New Year in January, all seats may be reserved, and unreserved seating may not be available.

Typically, Japanese people line up in the marked queue lines on the platform three to five minutes before the train arrives. The train stops briefly, so board quickly but allow exiting passengers to disembark first.  

If you have oversized luggage or small children and a stroller, you need to execute the entry or exit with military precision so you don’t delay the train (a deadly sin in Japan). Step to the side with your stroller and let other people take their seats before you do. 

Finding your Seat

Once inside the cabin, the seat numbers are marked on the edge of the luggage shelf above the windows. The A and E (D in Green Class) seats are window seats. 

A close-up view of a seat number sign inside the N700 Shinkansen, indicating seats 6A and 6B. The labels are in both Japanese and English, with 6A marked as the window seat and 6B as the aisle seat.
In the train, the row number and seat designation are written on the edge of the luggage rack above the windows.

Ordinary Class Car Overview 

The Ordinary Class cars in the N700 and Shinkansen N700S cars are roomy and light, with two seats on one side of the aisle and three on the other. 

The colour scheme borrows from the exterior, with blue cloth-covered seats, brightly lit white walls and ceiling, and a white carpet with a printed profile pattern reminiscent of the famous sand gardens of Kyoto. 

The interior of an N700 Shinkansen train's ordinary class car is shown, with passengers seated in rows of blue seats. Overhead compartments are filled with luggage, and passengers are engaged in various activities like reading and using electronic devices. The car has a bright and modern design, with a center aisle and windows along both sides.
The ordinary class cabin is roomy and light, with a colour scheme repeating the livery of the N700 trains.

The windows of the N700 Shinkansen passenger cars are larger than those of an aeroplane. They’re big enough to give a comfortable view of the surroundings – except that the train runs so fast that you never can see anything close to the train, it dissolves into a blur. But Mt Fuji is so far away that you comfortably can see the mountain. 

If the weather permits, you can see Fujisan from the E (or D in Green Class) seats. During summer, the mountain is frequently shrouded in clouds and haze. It is on the right side of the train going to Kyoto and on the left going to Tokyo. 

The seats are always on the same side, and the train goes back the way it came without turning. Instead of turning the train, the crew turns around the seats at the end stations. You always ride facing forward. 

A close-up view of two blue seats in the ordinary class section of an N700 Shinkansen train. The seats have white headrest covers and are positioned next to a window, offering a clean and comfortable appearance with ample legroom. The armrest between the seats can be seen, and the floor has a patterned carpet.
The seats in ordinary class are comfortably wide and nicely upholstered.

If you are a family, book two rows of twin seats and spin one of them around to make them face each other. The release pedal is on the floor on the aisle side. At the end station, all seats are turned automatically at the same time.  

The seats have an electric outlet at the end of the armrests, so you can plug in a phone charger or laptop. The outlet is made for the standard 100 V Japanese electric contacts with two equally long flat prongs, so most electronic devices will not have any problems with it. 

A close-up view of a power outlet located on the armrest of a seat in the ordinary class section of an N700 Shinkansen train. The outlet features two plug sockets, allowing passengers to charge electronic devices during their journey. The seats are upholstered in blue fabric, and the aisle and other seats are visible in the background.
The electric outlets on the N700 trains are located in the armrests.

The tray table, which is big enough for a laptop, folds down from the seatback of the seat in front. Be careful when you recline your seat (the button is on the armrest). Always check that nobody is behind you. 

A fold-down tray table is shown in the upright position on an N700 Shinkansen train, located in the ordinary class section. The tray has a circular indentation for holding drinks, and a bottle of tea is visible on the adjacent seat's tray. The seats are covered in blue fabric with a mesh pocket on the back for storing small items.
The tray tables in the ordinary class of the N700 series trains comfortably hold a bento box or a laptop.
The back of a seat on an N700 Shinkansen train displays an information guide for passengers. It includes details about emergency procedures, location of amenities, and available services like free Wi-Fi. The guide is written in both Japanese and English, and there are QR codes for additional information. The seatback also features a foldable tray table and a mesh pocket for storage.
Comprehensive instructions on how to use the train car’s features and amenities are on the back of the tray table of the N700 Shinkansen trains.

Green Class Car Overview

Ordinary class in the N700 and N700S Shinkansen cars is more comfortable than business class on many airlines. However, the Green Class – the business class of the Shinkansen trains – is a considerable step up. 

When you want to pamper yourself, book Green Class. The seats in the cars with the green four-leaf clover next to the doors may be twice as expensive as ordinary class, but they are worth it. 

A N700 Supreme Shinkansen train is stationed at a platform, with the door to car number 9 open for boarding. The exterior of the train features the "N700 Supreme" logo and signage indicating it is a "Nozomi" service to Shin-Osaka. The green icon next to the door denotes that this car is a Green Car (business class), and there are signs for no smoking and emergency exit instructions. The platform has tactile paving for accessibility.
The green four-leaf clover designates the ”Green Car” of the JR business class.

There are only four seats per row and fewer rows than in ordinary class.

The interior of a Green Car (first-class) on an N700 Shinkansen train features rows of spacious, brown upholstered seats with white headrest covers. A passenger is walking down the aisle, and the overhead bins are empty, providing a clean and organized appearance. The car is well-lit with a modern design and large windows along the sides.
The Green Class cabin is roomier than the ordinary class, thanks to fewer seats in each row.

The seats are wider, more comfortable, and highly adjustable, but be careful that nobody behind you is using their laptop – although the legroom is almost half again compared to ordinary class.

A close-up view of two plush seats in the Green Car (first-class) of an N700 Shinkansen train. The seats are upholstered in brown fabric with a diamond pattern and feature white headrest covers and wide, cushioned armrests. The seats are positioned next to a large window, providing a comfortable and spacious seating arrangement for passengers.
The Green Class seats are wider than those of Ordinary cars and are comfortably upholstered.

The seats have a footrest and tray tables that fold down from the back of the seat in front and the armrest. Naturally, there are also electric outlets.

The footrests in the Green Car (first-class) of an N700 Shinkansen train are shown, positioned at the back of the seats in front. The footrests are adjustable and covered in a patterned fabric matching the seat upholstery. There are also mesh pockets on the seatbacks containing informational materials for passengers. The floor has a patterned carpet, providing a comfortable and premium travel experience.
There are footrests for passengers in the N700 Green Car seats.

And even though JR stopped the trolley service a couple of years ago, you can use your mobile to order snacks and refreshments. The menu is in the seat pocket in front of you. 

An informational leaflet for Green Car passengers on a Tokaido Shinkansen train is displayed in the seatback pocket. The leaflet details services such as the Tokaido Shinkansen Mobile Ordering service for food and beverages and the Support Call service for assistance during the journey. The information is provided in both Japanese and English, with QR codes for additional details. Other magazines and pamphlets are also visible in the mesh pocket.
While there is no longer a trolley service in Green Class, passengers can order snacks and refreshments with their mobiles.

Onboard Amenities

When boarding the N700, the amenities and facilities are clearly signposted.

A detailed information board on an N700 Shinkansen train highlights various amenities and facilities across the train's cars. It includes symbols for restrooms, vending machines, AEDs, a Green Car, and a multi-purpose room, among others. The board also indicates the train's no-smoking policy and provides emergency contact instructions.
The facilities and amenities are clearly displayed on an information board

Before boarding, the luggage storage options on the N700 are clearly displayed.

A sign at a Shinkansen station illustrates the baggage storage policies. It specifies that reservations are required for oversized baggage, which can be stored either in designated oversized baggage areas or compartments. The right side of the sign indicates that standard baggage can be placed in overhead racks without a reservation.
On the platform, the luggage storage options are clearly described.

In both ordinary and Green Class on the N700 Shinkansen trains, the main luggage storage is in the racks above the seats. On the N700S Shinkansen trains, the overhead storage is considerably larger than the rack in an aeroplane. Both a carry-on bag and a suitcase a few sizes larger will fit comfortably. 

The overhead storage area in an ordinary class car of an N700 Shinkansen train is shown, with some luggage placed on the shelf. The seats below are blue with white headrest covers, and passengers are seated, some looking out the windows. The clean and spacious design of the storage area allows for ample luggage space above the seats.
The luggage rack in the ordinary class of the N700 trains is wide enough to hold ordinary carry-on bags, and one size up.

But while size may not be a concern, weight will be. Lifting even a relatively light suitcase over your head requires quite a bit of muscle. And bulky luggage, like skis or musical instruments, will not fit. 

This is why JR has implemented luggage reservations on the N700 and N700S Shinkansen trains. The primary reservation is for the rack in the corridor, where you will set your seat number as the code. This is how the conductor checks that reservations are used. 

A close-up of a baggage storage compartment on the N700 Shinkansen, featuring multiple shelves with locks and reservation indicators. The signage provides instructions for use and emphasizes the need for reservations.
The luggage racks in the corridor between N700 compartments are reserved for paying users.

But in a pinch, you can also reserve the first row of seats for luggage. If you reserve space for your luggage, you will replace the persons sitting in the first seats in the cabin.

Families with children can reserve a car dedicated to families with free spaces for strollers, and passengers in wheelchairs get free storage space. 

The toilets on the N700S Shinkansen trains are more modern than the toilets you will find in many Japanese hotels. 

A view inside a restroom on the N700 Shinkansen. The image shows a modern toilet with an integrated bidet, control panel for flushing and bidet functions, a handlebar for stability, and a waste disposal area. The signage on the wall provides instructions for use and highlights the no-smoking policy.
N700 Shinkansen train toilets feature all modern amenities, clearly signposted.

The toilets are in the corridor between the compartments. Every second car has a large toilet with baby-change facilities and toddler seats. There are also dedicated rubbish bins for diapers.

A view inside a restroom on the N700 Shinkansen, showing a small sink, handrail, and a foldable toddler seat mounted on the wall for convenience. The signage provides instructions and emphasizes no smoking.
The N700 Shinkansen toilets not only have baby changing boards but also seats for toddlers.

The corridors between the compartments are also where the garbage bins are. In Japan, you throw away your rubbish, and sort it – although in the N700 Shinkansen cars, you can only sort your garbage in drink bottles and others. Make sure to throw away your rubbish in good time before exiting, so you have one less stress factor to contend with. 

There is also wifi throughout the train. However, the wifi network is not encrypted and may be intercepted. If you need higher security, use a VPN service.

When you select the JR network, you must register with SNS or email. The sessions last 30 minutes, and then you must refresh the registration. The first time you register using email or SNS, you get a message you have to click on to activate the service. 

An informational sign about free Wi-Fi on the Shinkansen, detailing that the service is complimentary, requires registration via email or SNS account, and has a 30-minute session limit. It also includes notes on transmission speed limitations and a caution about usage.
When you select the JR network from the wifi settings in your device, it will activate the registration function.

Final Thoughts

Travelling on the N700 Shinkansen offers a combination of speed, comfort, and efficiency, making it an excellent choice for both business and leisure travellers. The N700 trains enhance the travel experience across the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen lines with features like onboard Wi-Fi, spacious seating, and reliable services.

Whether you’re travelling between Tokyo and Osaka or exploring the scenic routes to Fukuoka and Kagoshima, the N700 Shinkansen provides a smooth and enjoyable journey. By understanding the amenities, seating options, and boarding procedures, you can make the most of your high-speed journey. Enjoy the ride and the breathtaking views of Japan’s landscapes as you travel in one of the world’s most advanced trains.

Promotional image featuring the N700 Shinkansen at a station platform with the text "JAPAN: Experience the N700 Shinkansen" at the top, and "Fast, Smooth and Efficient" with a "Click Above" call-to-action at the bottom.
Experience the N700 Shinkansen – Pinterest Image

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