Oct. 1 will be the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the shinkansen super-express trains. The shinkansen has become the envy of the world, studied, imitated and emulated, but never quite matched. Though the younger generation may take it as a given, the “bullet train” will continue to be an important part of Japanese life and society in the future.

The service has continued to work well. The overall average delay, according to Central Japan Railway, is an astoundingly low 0.6 minute. The Tokaido Shinkansen has maintained a flawless record of no passenger fatalities or injuries due to train accidents. Even with competition from airlines, which have taken the market share for travel distances over four hours, the shinkansen remains punctual, clean, efficient and reasonably affordable.

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