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10 Incredible Train Trips

Shinkansen: World's First Modern Bullet Train

If speed is what you're after, Japan's shinkansen trains definitely deliver. The shinkansen was the world's first modern bullet train. Traveling at over 160 miles (257.5 kilometers) per hour, the high-speed trains connect major cities in Japan, making rail travel easy and quick. The first shinkansen route ran in 1964 and topped 120 miles (193.1 kilometers) per hour. Through track innovations and improvements in motors and structure, some shinkansen trains can reach speeds of more than 200 miles (321.9 kilometers) per hour.

You don't need to speak Japanese to ride the shinkansen. Track signs are in both English and Japanese, so you can navigate easily. If you want to study up before your trip, Japan Rail Pass has a list of useful phrases like "shiteiseki" for reserved seat and "yoyaku" for reservation that are worth jotting down before you set out.

Since you can ride the shinkansen throughout Japan, the various routes have different scenery. You can see forests, mountains, volcanoes, rivers and, of course, the ocean.