The shinkansen trains have a distinctive look, which may be familiar to those who have traveled widely. China, Taiwan and the U.K. all use shinkansen-style trains, and they are planned for Texas and India too. And in other places, super-fast trains have become quite normal, not least the high-speed Eurostar service linking the U.K. with France and the Low Countries.
However, to spot a shinkansen, the best place is Japan. There, bullet trains glide along their specially designed tracks, only utilized by shinkansen. That’s because they need a wider gauge than conventional trains. And they also sometimes have their own stations a little way out from downtown areas.
Nonetheless, the shinkansen system is not the only way to get around Japan by train. Since the first tracks were laid from Tokyo’s old Shimbashi station to Yokohama in 1872, a network of nearly 17,000 miles of railway was developed. Today, more than nine billion rail journeys a year are taken in Japan, according to a recent International Union of Railways study.