The new Hokuriku Line will open up a corridorto let tourists explore a whole side of Japan that was previously inaccessible.

shinkansen

These striking trains are the work of renowned industrial designer Ken Okuyama, who drew on traditional Japanese motifs to create the shinkansen’s exterior.
The J-pop group Aladdin had a song to encourage the stagnating country in 2008 that sang of its greatest accomplishments: “You’re amazing, Japan. You’re smart, Japan. This is the country that invented [mechanical pencils, blue diode, karaoke and the shinkansen].” Fifty-one years since the first shinkansen started zooming across dedicated rail lines in 1964, these bullet trains remain one of Japan’s greatest prides. After the country was left devastated by the Second World War, the invention of the shinkansen marked a great achievement and was instrumental in Japan’s later success.

Today, the shinkansen is the backbone of the country’s transportation and has serviced over 8 billion people—more than the entire world’s population. Shinkansen regularly go up to a whopping 320 km/h, but the brilliance of these superhigh-speed trains also has to do with their unparalleled precision. A crew of 3,000 experts checks the tracks nightly, searching for any deformations that exceed the allowed tolerance of 6 mm. Because of efforts like this, there has never been a fatal accident due to operational error on a shinkansen—and the average delay for the 600 daily arrivals and departures is only 36 seconds, making it the most punctual train service in the world.
Shinkansen W7

March 14, 2015, marks an exciting day with the opening of a new shinkansen route: the Hokuriku Line, starting in Tokyo and extending through the Japanese Alps to the Sea of Japan coast. Until now, the east coast has been inaccessible for most overseas tourists because of its complicated train routes, but this new corridor will open up discovery of a whole new side of Japan.

The brand new E7 and W7 series trains will make up the fleet on the Hokuriku Line. These trains were conceived by the renowned industrial designer Ken Okuyama, the first and only non-Italian person to design a Ferrari sports car. His sleek design has its base in traditional Japanese motifs, with an ivory body, a sky-blue roof and a nose trimmed with bronze. The interior is just  as impressive, with state-of-the-art seating and bathrooms with heated toilet seats.

The ride along the new line from Tokyo to Kanazawa is approximately 2.5 hours and will take you on a breathtaking journey through the magnificent mountains and along the scenic coast. The mountain city of Nagano is a notable stop where you can see the impressive Winter Olympics facilities and snow monkeys bathing in hot springs during the wintertime. Kanazawa is a stunning city on the sea, rich with history and some of the best seafood in the world. Here, you can time travel between the futuristic 21st Century Contemporary Museum and the historic Higashi Chaya District, where rows ofold teahouses and back alleys full of little shops recall the past.

A one-way ticket from Tokyo to Kanazawa starts at 13,600 Japanese yen (around 130 Canadian dollars), but you might want to consider buying a Japan Rail Pass for ¥29,110 (about $293), which you can only purchase outside of Japan. With this pass, you have seven days of unlimited rides on Japan Rail trains—and you can quickly get your money’s worth if you are planning to visit multiple cities.


Interior W7

Shinkansen W7 GlandClass
Shinkansen W7 GlandClassGranClass seat
Each train has one GranClass car (gran being the Spanish word for “big”) with 18 seats, where you

can go to be treated as a king or queen. Here, you can put on some nice, comfy slippers and quench your thirst with all-you-can-drink alcohol and soft drinks while reclining in the luxurious

leather seats. Meals are also provided, and you can choose from a menu featuring seasonal foods and delicacies from your destination.

Shinkansen W7 GlandClass
Shinkansen W7 GlandClass
Shinkansen W7 GlandClass

The leather seats in GranClass are so comfortable that they’re actually rejuvenating, and each has a control panel so you can adjust it just how you like. With seats like this, you’ll never want your journey to end.


Shinkansen W7 Green Class
Green seat

For a roomier experience than economy, the Green Car is a great step up. Equipped with a footrest, your own reading light, a cup holder and more, you’d think you were in first class.


Shinkansen W7 Economy Class
Economy seat
With deep reclining seats like these, you wouldn’t think that you’re sitting in economy class. Every seat even has a power outlet so that you can charge your phone or work on your laptop.

Universal design

Shinkansen Interior W7
Shinkansen Interior W7
Shinkansen Interior W7

This efficient, functional train is designed so that everything is intuitive and streamlined for the passengers while also being extremely high-tech and sophisticated. The spacious bathrooms are equipped with heated toilets and bidets, a futuristic diaper-changing table and a large vanity area.


 

Kanazawa Station

Shinkansen Kanazawa Station
The Kanazawa Station is one of the most distinct and impressive stations in Japan. An enormous wooden gate shaped like a tsuzumi, or traditional Japanese hand drum, welcomes you to the culturally rich and beautiful city of Kanazawa.

Ekiben【金沢駅で買える駅弁】

Ekiben (bentobox that sold in train station and train

Omatsu gozen【おまつ御膳】

For around $9.50, you can purchase an award-winning “Omatsu gozen” ekiben from Otomo-Rou. Two abundant layers of beautifully coordinated ingredients include shrimp, egg, lotus and more—as pleasing to the eye as they are to the tastebuds.


 

Toshiie gozen【利家御膳】

Resembling a covered carriage used by nobility during the samurai period, the Toshiie gozen ($11) features Kanazawa dishes such as jibu-ni (chicken simmered in dashi), unagi (eel) and tamago (egg). A nice little confectionary seals the meal.


Hanayome Noren: All aboard for a cultural journey

 Artist’s representation. Actual train may differ.
Artist’s representation. Actual train may differ.

A special train will be joining the fleet in October of 2015—the Hanayome Noren. The entire train is a tribute to Ishikawa Prefecture’s traditional lacquer and arts: it was designed and meticulously decorated to evoke the traditional Japanese concepts of harmony and beauty. The train’s name refers to the 150-year-old local tradition of noren curtains, which are bright and decorative curtains given to daughters on their wedding days with wishes of happiness and prosperity.