The Tokaido Shinkansen is a high-speed “bullet train” rail line operated by JR Central between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station. This shinkansen line provides a fast link between the major cities of Tokyo and Yokohama in eastern Japan, Nagoya in central Japan, and Kyoto and Osaka in the west. Beyond Shin-Osaka Station many through services continue further west on the Sanyo Shinkansen to destinations like Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima and Hakata in Kyushu.
Taking the Tokaido Shinkansen can be a very economical way to travel if you have a Japan Rail Pass. However, two of the fastest shinkansen trains, the Nozomi on the Tokaido line, and the Mizuho on the Sanyo line are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
The Tokaido Shinkansen station for Yokohama is Shin-Yokohama Station. At Shin-Yokohama Station northbound trains for Shinagawa and Tokyo depart from platforms 1 and 2. Westbound trains for Nagoya, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka depart from platforms 3 and 4.
Three types of bullet train run on the Tokaido Shinkansen: the Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama. The Nozomi is the most frequent and the fastest train as it travels the whole distance from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka in just 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, this train is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. To use the Japan Rail Pass, your best choice is the Hikari which takes 3 hours to cover the same distance. The Kodama stops at every station on the way and so takes around four hours.
The following stations are served by the Tokaido Shinkansen. The Kodama serves all the stations below, but stations in brackets () are not served by all Nozomi or Hikari services.
Tokyo – Shinagawa – Shin-Yokohama – (Odawara) – (Atami) – (Mishima) – (Shin-Fuji) – (Shizuoka) – (Kakegawa) – (Hamamatsu) – (Toyohashi) – (Mikawa-Anjo) – Nagoya – (Gifu-Hashima) – (Maibara) – Kyoto – Shin-Osaka
The key northbound and westbound destinations listed below are given with example journey times and non-reserved ticket fares from Shin-Yokohama Station. Reserved ticket prices change according to the season but typically cost around 500 yen extra.
If you are traveling by shinkansen, then Shin-Yokohama Station is your gateway to Yokohama City. Yokohama’s top attractions include the observation deck in the Landmark Tower, Minato Mirai bay area, the historic western-style buildings of the Yamate district, the Sankeien Garden, and the Chinese restaurants of Yokohama Chinatown. Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is a popular attraction which is just a five minute walk from Shin-Yokohama Station. The museum features a recreation of a Tokyo downtown district in the year 1958 and contains a food court with ramen noodle shops from all over Japan.
Yokohama Municipal Subway’s Blue Line connects this station with Yokohama Station, as well as Kannai Station in Yokohama’s main sightseeing area. The JR Yokohama Line also connects Shin-Yokohama Station with Yokohama Station.
Shinagawa Station is one of two Tokaido Shinkansen stops in the city of Tokyo. This station is mainly important as a transfer point for other railway lines, but there are a small number of attractions in the surrounding area. Sengakuji Temple, is significant as the burial place of the legendary 47 ronin, samurai warriors who are famous for their loyalty to their lord. There are also a number of museums in the area, including the Hara Art Museum, the Jade Ore Museum, Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art, and the Nikon Museum which details the history and technology of Nikon cameras and other products.
Transfers can be made at Shinagawa Station to the JR Yamanote Line, the JR Yokosuka Line, the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, the JR Tokaido Main Line, and the Keikyu Main Line which has services bound for Narita Airport and Haneda Airport. For more details, visit our guide to Shinagawa Station.
Non-reserved Fare: 1,290 yen
Train time: 11 minutes
Tokyo Station is served by several shinkansen lines and so is Tokyo city’s main intercity railway hub. Tokyo’s top attractions include the observation decks of Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple, the zoo, museums and cultural facilities of Ueno Park, the forest shrine of Meiji Jingu, the gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen Park, the fashion boutiques of Harajuku and Omotesando, the nightlife of Roppongi and Shinjuku’s Golden Gai, and the bright lights of Shibuya Crossing. Close by Tokyo Station are the gardens of the Imperial Palace and Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum which exhibits 19th century European art.
Transfers can be made here to JR East’s Yamanote Line, Chuo Main Line, Sobu Main Line, Yokosuka Line, Keiyo Line, and Keihin-Tohoku Line. Transfers can also be made to the following bullet train services: the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Tohoku Shinkansen, the Joetsu Shinkansen, the Yamagata Shinkansen, the Akita Shinkansen, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and the Hokkaido Shinkansen. Transfers can also be made here to the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. Highway bus terminals can be found outside the station’s Yaesu Exit on the east side of the station.
Non-reserved Fare: 1,380 yen
Train time: 18 minutes
Nagoya is a major port city in central Japan which is particularly famous for its unique local dishes such as tebasaki chicken wings and kishimen noodles. Popular tourist attractions include the Hommaru Palace within the grounds of Nagoya Castle, the Tokugawa Art Museum and Tokugawa Garden, and Osu Kannon Temple which stands at the center of the nostalgic Osu shopping district.
Non-reserved Fare: 9,900 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 22 minutes
Kyoto is one of Japan’s best preserved cities, with thousands of temples and shrines, and several famous palaces and gardens. Kyoto’s major tourist attractions include the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and the bamboo forest of Arashiyama. Kyoto is also well-known for its traditional cuisine and riverside dining, as well as more contemporary architecture such as Kyoto Tower, and the Kyoto Station building.
Non-reserved Fare: 12,650 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 59 minutes
Shin-Osaka Station serves the Osaka metropolitan area. Osaka’s top attractions include Osaka Castle, Shitennoji Temple (which was founded in 593 and is Japan’s oldest official temple), Sumiyoshi Taisha (an ancient Shinto shrine founded in the year 211), the bright lights of the Dotonbori entertainment district, Tsutenkaku Tower in the colorful Shinsekai district, the Kaiyukan Aquarium, and the Universal Studies Japan (USJ) theme park.
At Shin-Osaka Station transfers can be made to the Sanyo Shinkansen for destinations further west, the JR Kyoto Line, the JR Osaka Higashi Line, and the Midosuji Subway Line, which is the main line running north to south of the Osaka city subway network.
Non-reserved Fare: 13,540 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 14 minutes
We provide detailed route maps for both the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines. Current timetables for the Tokaido Shinkansen can be downloaded as English-language PDFs from JR Central. To plan your journey quickly and simply use English language route finders such as Hyperdia or the Japan Transit Planner.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.