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It's not often when you think of a country you instantly think of the trains
and yet say the word Japan and that is exactly what comes to mind
Since the bullet train was first introduced in
1964 it quickly stole the world's imagination and perch a pan on the map as a technological innovator
With a top speed of 200 miles per hour, until today
they've not only carried 10 billion passengers, but remarkably in over 50 years of service there's not yet
been a single passenger fatality or injury G to a train accident.
The Japanese word for bullet train is "Shinkansen"
Which literally translates as "new trunk line" a reference to the railway tracks upon which they travel
bullet trains come in three classes: ordinary, "economy class"
Which is already pretty spacious and luxurious by the standards of most trains
followed by "green class" effectively business class with larger reclining seats
and more recently since 2011
a true first-class option has been introduced called "grand class"
complete with cabin attendants and excitement.
Today Riotaro and I have been invited by JR East the company that owns the bullet trains
to try grand class for the first time ourselves with rare access to film inside the cabin.
We'll also be giving budget travel tips riding the trains on a budget
So hopefully by the end of this video you'll be an expert on all things bullet train
But our journey today starts in the city of Morioka,
a two-hour ride north of Tokyo and one of the only spots you can
watch two bullet trains connect with the robotic arms tucked away in the nose cone of the train.
Wow, it was like a robot, it was like a Gundam, like in real world
All right
So what we just saw is that there are two trains kind of going apart and one was red one was green and a red
one actually goes to
Akita and the name of the train is Komachi and that's named after a cute Akita girl
And the green one here is for Hayabusa named after Falcon. The third Falcon is really fast
Looks like some sort of mating ritual as the red train creeps up on the Hayabusa
male
Female.
Well, I suppose the Komachi is literally means Akita girl
Let's face it. It's the girl approaching the guy, right?
In this case, yeah. It's always like that
It's always like the guy waiting for a girl girl.
That's how it works for Riotaro. The girls always come to him
The Highway-Buses says it's the fastest Shinkansen in Japan and its top speed
It could rock it through the countryside at 200 miles per hour.
Not that you'd necessarily know from the comfort of the cabin.
Even now after riding bullet trains for like 7 years
I'm still in awe of the amount of seat pets you get on the standard seats. These seats here are
98 centimeters a pitch I can barely reach the seat in front of me if my outstretched my arm
I've got a normal human sized arm and a 44 with 44 centimeters wide. So it's pretty spacious
The second thing is it's so smooth
It's kind of gliding on air because every single wheel on the carriage of a bullet train is powered
So if you imagine a four-wheel-drive vehicle
It's like a 200 wheel drive vehicle.
In the moment people sit down or a train they whip out their drink or snack. And what do we got?
What the heck is that
"Ume" is like a sour plum flavor.
Oh God, what I 've done?
This is the worst way to ride a bullet train, with a mouth full of sour plum sweets
Whenever british friends of mine come to Japan, they're always envious, they have these sort of trains
There's definitely a sense that Japan needs. Given how mountainous the country is without bullet trains
you can turn a journey into a nightmare. For example, Sendai to Tokyo if you drive here
how long is it? like five hours. If you got a bullet train you can do it in 90 minutes
So I ride the bullet train between
Sendai and Tokyo at least once a month and costs about 1100 yen, a 100 dollars.
How often do you ride the bullet train?
Every week.
Every week?!
Proper business man.
"Proper business man", yeah.
Freelance person?
Freelance... think about that though
If you do ride the bullet train between Tokyo and Sendai, there's a pretty good chance
you might run into Riotaro
And you 'll get...
plumsweet if you say hello to me.
Good reason not to ride the bullet train between Tokio and Sendai
Halfway on our journey to Tokyo with my mouth forever broken by the taste of sour plums
We hop off the train at Fukushima station
to witness the intense sight and the bullet train blasting past us at full speed. So
Bullet trains don't stop at every station,
this one going between Tokyo and Sendai for example doesn't stop here at Fukushima station
but what that means is when you stand here
in about 5 - 10 minutes a bullet trains gonna pass through here at 300 km/h
a 17 car bullet train passing through here...
and people come up here just to watch it because it's quite a scenes in the hole you
Can hear it right rumbling in the distance like a thunderstorm
and then before you know it it's shot right through it.
Okay, here it comes here comes
Is coming, is coming! IS COMING!
Oh oh oh my God! (laughs)
Did you see that!
That was quick as hell
Before hopping on our next train to Tokyo with about 20 minutes to spare one of us is feeling a bit peckish
fortunately
every major station in Japan is the ultimate in fast food where a single dish of noodles
can be whipped up in about 20 seconds taking a further 20 seconds for Riotaro to make it magically disappear
I'm hungry. So I'm going to get..
tempura, which is number 2.
Okay, so I'm gonna press this
gonna touch that
There you go
And what's most important is like ther're choices of like soba or udon
where you have to mention about soba or udon
(both) Sumimasen!
R: Soba please.
Attendants: Thank you very much
This is how quick is
Attendant: Here you 've the chopsticks.
There's so many people, you know, like having brief short time to transit
to all get on the train.
how long was that how long it takes to make that?
I think that...(japanese) 15 seconds?
15 seconds can you believe that.
Is the miracle of standing
It's
The 460,000 commuters passing through Tokyo Station every single day
It's the third busiest station in Japan after Shinjuku and Ikebukuro
coming from Tohoku, It's certainly a chaotic change of atmosphere
Thankfully no soon than we arrived,
we're already plotting our escape in the luxury of the grand club's cabin
It's my first time, well, our our first time to get on a grand class. The first pass seat of the Shinkansen ever
I live in Sendai and I see secrets all the time, but it's my very first time I'm really really excited
Even doors 're different
Look at this!
You know, I feel now it's so quiet
it's like all... like the moment you come in here is like the whole air is different like...
-The air is different?
-Right different air
You know in the car in Shinkansen, there's no door but like airplane there're doors like this.
and can put your jacket
Jesus it's more like being on an airplane than a train.
Look at this the whole thing
The whole seat moves like a first-class airplane seat. Oh my God
What else is gonna do? like there's like a button to actually call the cabin attendant,
like in the airplane again.
This seat is absolutely huge, 52.5 centimeters across
With a pitch of 1.3 meters last time on the last train with our scientific experiment,
we found we couldn't touch the seat in front.
Here you'd be like 2 arms
when you sit down you get an issue body hot towel and a menĂº
because there's complimentary food and drink in the ground class cabin.
Now I think we'll get some sake, because I want to take advantage of this rare special occasion
probably the first and last time I'll ever sit in a grand class seat.
So what I've got in front of me is a complimentary bento box
That comes for free when you're on the grand class. How luxury is that?
Ume ne! (sour plum)
See that is how you do a reaction
For this breeding like that looks like a snake
Stick it up. Sake in a bullet train. Is there anything better?
Oh, this must be the most comfortable seat I've ever sat in in my life.
Oh my god guys
This is it. This is it. This is the pinnacle of railway travel.
It doesn't come cheap though
It is about US$ 750 to ride in this seat from Tokyo to Hakodate, in Hokkaido.
Which is the longest distance you could do on this train?
I don't think I'll be doing it again the hurry because of the that.
So I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can right now.
Finish up this sake.
Hard at work there on his laptop
He's not doing anything he's not doing... would you ride this grand class again Riotaro? would you ever do it?
Oh, yeah, I would, lovely.
Of course he would what situation would you consider using grand class yourself?
My second honeymoon.
Your second honeymoon
I'm rather like you to go on a green card because they've got there's economy green and this one.
I do right the green car quite a bit just
because it's a great place to sit and edit and I need lots of space when I'm editing on the train I could turn it
you can turn the train ride into kind of productive bit of time.
Gran class would require a slightly more extreme situation
Probably if I was trying to impress someone.
Like in a honeymoon
Honeymoon.
Now it's time for the worst part of the journey
Getting off the ground class carriage. Oh
No
Dream is over.
The dream is over?
But the memory will last a lifetime
won't it won't it?
It will.
There you go. Let's go.
This is it
As amazing as grand class was,
I'm not sure I could justify spending my pocket money on it again anytime soon.
Fortunately for tourists coming to Japan, It's never been cheaper or easier to ride bullet trains on a budget.
So obviously if you're traveling around Japan usually the most expensive thing
It's the transports the bullet trains.
In fact to go from Tokyo to Sendai a return trip will cost you about 20,000 yen, US$200
However, if you are a foreign tourist, you can take advantage of the JR East Rail Pass
where for five days and 19,000 yen you can go anywhere you want in all of Tohoku region?
It's a fantastic offer and I can't do it because I'm not a foreign tourist,
but if you are you'd be mad not to take advantage of it and it comes with a cool little map
You can see all the places...
and in fact many of the places Riotaro and I have covered over the years actually on this map
so you can go and visit them firsthand and see them for yourself.
When you need to run to Tohoku using JR. East Pass, do not forget to take this: "Welcome Suica card"
You can get this for free, at this counter here with this card. It's like a cash card
you can prepay money here and you can use this at
any shops in a station and also the old convenience stores major convenience stores in all Japan.
Amazing, take it.
For more information on how to grab the JR East pass you can find the details
in the description box below.
And if you do get it, the counter for the Rail Pass and other tourist information is conveniently located
on Tokyo stations entrance or to exit.
Well, we must have spent at least five or six hours on the bullet train today
But I think it was worth it to be able to ride grand class. Will I be doing it again in a hurry?
Probably not unless I win that the lottery or if Riotaro buys me a nice birthday present.
But for now guys as always many thanks for watching
We will see you next time and don't forget if you do ride the bullet train between Tokyo and Sendai
there's a good chance you might run into Mr Businessman Riottaro himself.
And if you do see me and you get a free sour plum sweet,
guaranteed.
guaranteed