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Red Trains, Not Green Ones

At Sendai Station’s JR ticket booth where I was hoping to successfully make a reservation for the train I wanted, I found out that window seats on all scheduled E5 series Shinkansen trains that day had been reserved.
If you have a Japan Rail (JR) Pass which covers almost all trains operated by the JR Group– you can reserve the type of seat you want for free - if available. Without a seat reservation, you can still board the non-reserved coaches of Shinkansen trains – but you may not get your seat of choice at all, and, as I discovered, trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen fill up quickly. 

Thankfully, there was some excellent news – I would be booked on E6 Series Komachi train which looks similar in design to the tokiwa green E5 series trains, but stands out because of its beautiful red colour, complimented with warm greys. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Shinkansen_E6_at_%C5%8Cmiya_Station_(Saitama) CC BY-SA 3.0



Let me share you some train geek knowledge! The E6 series Shinkansen is a seven-car train which operates as the Akita Shinkansen – connecting Akita City with Tokyo, via the Tohoku Shinkansen line. Before arriving at Sendai Station where I was waiting, E6 trainsets coming off the branch from Akita couple onto the ten car E5 trainsets traveling south from Shin-Aomori Station. What is known by Japanese railfans as the “perfect kiss” takes place one station north of Sendai at Morioka Station where E6 trainsets and E5 trainsets couple and decouple to and from each other. Highlighting the large railfan culture of Japan, this operation attracts thousands of onlookers, photographers, and filmmakers. 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/E6-E5_Coupling_in_omiya_20120918.jpg  CC BY-SA 3.0

Waiting at Sendai Station to finally get the rush of speed that I was after, a Shinkansen colour wheel of Tokiwa Green and Red with warm grey glided in with a total of 17 cars. The train would take me up to speeds of 320km/h!


At approximately 2pm, reclining back into my comfortable yellow colored seat aboard the E6 series, we pulled out of Sendai Station and accelerated to 320km/h. When it came to the train’s performance, I certainly felt it! Railfans know that each train has its own characteristic which can only be experienced by riding it. Arriving at Omiya station, I parted ways with the Tohoku Shinkansen to visit The Railway Museum – the largest train museum in Japan – a place that needs blog on its own. 

I never ended up riding the E5 over the course of my trip, but I absolutely fell in love with the E6, and as a write this blog, the E2 series Shinkansen is slowly being withdrawn from service due to its age, so I am thankful I had to opportunity to ride it too!

While there are many things to do in Japan – if you want to experience the rush of speed and get the most of out the Japanese experience – the Tohoku Shinkansen is a must-experience rail adventure. 

In my next trip to Japan – I plan to ride the Tohoku Shinkansen to Aomori to ride what I believe is one of Japan’s most scenic railways – JR East’s Resort Shirakami connecting Aomori with Akita along the coast of the Sea of Japan. 


Written by Ken Fernandes (@japanesetrainandtravelwithken)

The opinions expressed in the above article do not reflect the views of JNTO. All content and images are property of the writer unless otherwise specified.


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