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What Is Your Favorite Shinkansen?


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Moderator note: this is a new topic started from some tangential posts in other topics. 
 

What's your favorite Japanese train?  Is it due to a personal connection, or just cause it looks good?  There are no wrong answers!

 

@gavino200,

My apologies for the late reply. I had typed up a reply quite a while ago, but I just wasn't happy with the results. As such I decided to start over... multiple times...

It's also feels a bit of topic, so my apologies in advance.

 

 

As for my favorite shinkansen, well, I didn't pick my username at random, so I guess that's would be your first clue 😉. Seriously though, I absolutely adore the J.N.R. era shinkansen types. With both the 200 and the 0 series shinkansen being my absolute favorite Japanese, and hence the world, trains ever to grace the rails, with the 100 series closely behind.

As to the why, that is entirely dependent on the specific series, and I will try to provide a more detailed explanation later on, but it turned out to be more difficult to answer than I had originally anticipated.

 

One of the more obvious, and hence simple, reasons for this preference is that I've always preferred older equipment over the more modern/contemporary stuff, with a particular soft spot for 1930's/40's and I especially 1960's designs.

What I do know though, is that I probably would've probably never developed such a large interest in the shinkansen (or at least not to this extent) if those series had never existed.

 

I really like the Japanese aesthetics, and I've noticed that I tend to have a preference for designs which confirm to those. Hence while I'm most certainly not exclusively interested in the shinkansen, the 0 series and the 200 series (and most of the other series), in my opinion, closely confirm to a number of the main elements within the Japanese aesthatics. To me these series represent the 'ideal' within the Japanese railways, something which represents the idealized version of the Japanese train, a Yamato Nadeshiko (the idealized (traditional) Japanese woman) if you will. A bit of a weird comparison perhaps, but the best i could think of at the moment.

 

 

As for why I love the 0 series, this may be one of the more difficult ones to define, not because I don't know why I like this series, but because it's such a special train to me that I'm not sure I properly convey into words why I like this series so much.

 

First of all, I just love the design of the 0 series, for me she perfectly encapsulates some of the key principles of Japanese aesthetics. The 0 series design conforms to a form of understated elegance, combining simplicity with beautiful, yet clean lines. It's a subtle design, designed around functionality rather than standing out, simple but very well thought out. This also come through in the original design concept, which stipulated that the trains for the new shinkansen were to be based around modern but proven technology, with the design leaving room for improvement over the course of its service life. The 0 series design also feels very gentle, with a lack of harsh lines anywhere on the design, which to me adds significantly to the attraction factor.

I also love the incredible variety within this series. there are so many different formations, most of them different from one another even within the same group, all the different production batches, sub-types make this such a satisfying series to research (I'm at my happiest when I'm nose deep into a set of rosters, production lists or timetables, to me that remains the most enjoyable part of this hobby).

 

She's just so much more than just a train, something very special, and up till this day I'd argue she remains one of the most powerful, and recognizable symbols of the post-war era of high economic growth, uniting both railfans (which to be fair took a couple of decades to warm up to the shinkansen) and the general public. This can be felt at any of the preserved 0 series cars, but especially during the retirement of the final formations from active service on November 30th 2008, and the final run on December 14th of the same year. This series represented something unique, and I don't think there will be anything like it ever again.

 

16 car 0 series formations (H/Nh and Y/Yk formations) on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen during the early 1990's, one of the most diverse periods for the 0 series:

 

Hikari 347, the last run for the 0 series, December 14th 2008:

 

 

While the 0 series was the first shinkansen I took a liking to, it was the 200 series which actually started my love for the shinkansen. Coming across pictures of them in a book I received when I was twelve, quickly took a liking to this series.

 

I've always loved the designs of this series, obviously a further development of the 0 series nose design, yet at the same time subtly different and a unique design in its own right.  Most of the earlier arguments I made in terms of aesthetic apply just as well to the 200 series as much as they do to the 0 series, they are quite similar in terms of feeling after all. The 200 series also

Though it's exactly the combination of difference and similarities, which make this series so attractive for me.

   

Like the 0 series, the 200 series also had a lot variations during its operational life. In fact, despite there being less 200 series car built (700) than both the 0 series (3,216) and the 100 series (1,056), in terms of aesthetics it was in fact the most diverse shinkansen series ever built. With the original round nose design of the 0/1000 and 1500 sub-type cars, the shark nose design of the new built 2000 sub-type and rebuilt 200 sub-type end cars based around the 100 series nose design, and last but not least the renewed K formations, with their redesigned windshield/ upper cab section body integration. Also like the 0 series, there were a large number of different formations, sub-types and reorganizations throughout their, very long, service lives.

 

It may sound a bit strange, but one of my reasons for planning (though of course not my number one reason for going, which was experiencing the country itself) my first trip to Japan in the spring of 2011 was to, hopefully, be able to still experience the last of the renewed K formations in person, and if perhaps the stars aligned be able to catch a ride on one. On my 3rd shinkansen journey during this trip (of 4) I did get to see one of the formations up close at Tōkyō station, which I was really happy about, I didn't expect to be lucky enough to actually manage to ride one.

I did hold out some small hope for the return leg, from Utsunomiya to Tōkyō, however I wasn't expecting much.

When I arrived back at Utsunomiya in the afternoon, I noticed the first ascending train (direction Tōkyō) to arrive would be a MAX Yamabiko. Realizing that this would mean another ride on an E4 series, I decided to take a gamble with the service arriving afterwards, a Nasuno service 20 minutes later. While fully expecting this service to be operated by an E2 series formation, I nonetheless wanted to take the chance, as I knew this was going to be the last opportunity during this trip, and as they were scheduled to be retired, probably ever.

When the warning signal for an approaching train was sounded, and I looked up to see the distinctive shape of two oval headlights (it had already become dark by that time) swinging towards the platform, I realized that my wish was about to be fulfilled.

Even after 10 years have passed, I can still feel all the emotions I had at that specific moment (which may or may not have involved some onion cutting ninja), which was truly something indescribable.

 

 

The 100 series, or what the 0 series would've looked like had she been designed in mid 1980's Japan. Though clearly a much more modern design, the nose design is a clear reflection of the development from the 0 series -> 200 series -> 100 series, and it's this heritage which sells the design for me.  

The lack of skirting, a return to the larger windows (with exception of the prototype, formation X1 (X0)) as on the 0 series 0 sub-type cars and the general focus on improving passenger comfort, led to a design which in my opinion is incredibly elegant, in a business like manner (which fits, as she was after al a product of the bubble era economy).  And while the 100 series was more of a grandiose design than either the 0 or the 200 series, which to me would be a negative, however, the 100 series confirms to most of the aesthetic points I mentioned earlier, so she gets a pass for that.

She is a bit modern for my taste though, which is the main reason why she's not at exactly the same level as the other two for me.

 

 

 

While the J.N.R. era shinkansen are my undisputed favorite shinkansen, I do like a number of the post J.N.R. era designs as well.

In general there are very few shinkansen which I don't really care for, and even less which I don't really like. Though I wasn't really interested in most of the more "modern" designs early on, over time I did develop a liking to most of the more "modern" (with a number of those series already retired, or in the process of being retired, it does feel strange to refer to them as modern though). In general I've taken a liking to most of the Heisei era shinkansen, but some of them stand out a bit more.

 

 

The E2 series is probably my favorite "modern" shinkansen. As with the older designs, the E2 series also has diversity going for her, with three distinct formation groups (N/J(J1~J15 sub-group, later J2~J15) for the 0 sub-type formations and J51~J75 for the 1000 sub-type formations) and two different sub-types. They are also fascinating from a technological point of view, as the 0 sub-type cars were built with either GTO (supplied by either Hitachi or Tōshiba/Siemens) or IGBT (Mitsubishi) based VVVF propulsion packages. As a train running sound (mainly propulsion) connoisseur, I've always loved the audible differences between these systems. In my opinion the Tōshiba GTOs may be among the best sounding GTO-VVVF packages ever.

I also quite like the design of the E2 series. It's one of those understated designs, which, as mentioned before, is something I really like, yet the nose section is surprisingly elegant when viewed en profile. In short it satisfies my earlier

It also helps that my first ever ride on a shinkansen, was on an E2 series formation (E2 series 0 sub-type formation J14).

 

The 700 series (0 and 3000 sub-types (C and B formations) is one of those series which I would consider to be a bit of an acquired taste. The nose design is, to say the least, quite distinct. Beyond the nose design though, I think it's overall the best looking 'modern' shinkansen, the design of the cars themself is excellent in my opinion, with the slightly smaller passenger windows, in comparison to the 300 series, and the gentle inward curve of the car sides give them a more balanced feel compared to the 300 series. From a propulsion point of view, I absolutely love sound made by the IGBT-VVVF propulsion package(s) on the C formations.

 

Last but not least, the N700 series. Though a bit more glamorous than her older sister, she still contains a lot of the subtlety and grace I'm looking for.

The nose, like the E2 series, looks surprisingly elegant in profile, and overal I think it's a very balanced design.

 

Other honorable mentions would include the 400 series and the E1 series.

 

As for the shinkansen I'm not that enthustiastic about:

 

I'm probably not going to make myself popular with this, but I've never been a really big fan of the 500 series.

Don't get me wrong, I do think it's a very good looking design, and the series has grown on me over the years, to the point that I can say that I do like it (especially the original W formations), however, I don't think It'll ever become one of my favorites.

In general I like designs as mentioned above, understated, subtle, simple/functional yet graceful. while I do understand the appeal, to me the 500 series design is just too obvious, too in your face, pretentious even. It just feel like they were trying too hard during the design process. The 500 series has always been a design which stands out, this has been true when it debuted and it is still true to this day, and will probably always remain one of the most popular shinkansen ever built, however for me it just lacks the elements I like in a shinkansen. The Tōshiba supplied GTO-VVVF package (unfortunately slowly being replaced by IGBT elements on the remaining V formations) does sound amazing though, so I guess that's at least some bonus points for me.

 

The E6 series would be the other one, mostly for the same reasons, just without any of the factors I do like about the 500 series.

For me it lacks anything redeeming, it just feels quite unsubtle and in your face, trying too hard. A few years ago I might have added the E5/H5 series into the same category, however seeing them in person has softened this somewhat, and I learned to appreciate them for what they are (them being full sized shinkansen also helps).

 

I'm ambivalent towards the 800 series, while I do like the parts they share with the 700 series, I've always felt the way JR Kyūshū designed their trains to be a bit much for me. Yet at the same time I don't really dislike it.

 

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serotta1972

I believe this response deserves and needs to be its own thread - "What is your favorite Shinkansen?". Then I will ditto what 200 as usual eloquently shared, it's like he read my mind and wrote down all my thoughts and feelings about the various Shinkansens.  

 

 

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gavino200
4 hours ago, serotta1972 said:

I believe this response deserves and needs to be its own thread - "What is your favorite Shinkansen?". Then I will ditto what 200 as usual eloquently shared, it's like he read my mind and wrote down all my thoughts and feelings about the various Shinkansens.  

 

 

 

I agree. I was thinking of curating this and a few other responses I've read into a single thread. Would that be acceptable to you @200系?

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Great idea gavin, this does pop up all the time. 200’s was nice as it was a lot of my own personal feelings on the matter.

 

jeff

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12 hours ago, 200系 said:

As for the shinkansen I'm not that enthustiastic about:

 

I'm probably not going to make myself popular with this, but I've never been a really big fan of the 500 series.

Don't get me wrong, I do think it's a very good looking design, and the series has grown on me over the years, to the point that I can say that I do like it (especially the original W formations), however, I don't think It'll ever become one of my favorites.

 

I'm ambivalent towards the 800 series, while I do like the parts they share with the 700 series, I've always felt the way JR Kyūshū designed their trains to be a bit much for me. Yet at the same time I don't really dislike it.

 

I've never been a huge fan of the 500 series either. It just looks out of place compared to it's sister trains and seems like it came from a different line of design or something. I will say that they do look great as joyful trains though. The 800 series for me doesn't look like a Shinkansen at first glance, something about the profile looks different. You can definitely tell it's a JR Kyushu train just by looking at it, a lot of their stock seems to exude a certain 'busy' look. 

 

I am a fan of the 200 Series as well, my Tomix Yamabiko is one of my favorites even if it does take 15 minutes to get on the track and takes up about a fifth of the track on my outermost loop. I always did wonder about the aerodynamic properties of the two double-decker cars on it at speed...

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chadbag
15 minutes ago, nah00 said:

 

I've never been a huge fan of the 500 series either. It just looks out of place compared to it's sister trains and seems like it came from a different line of design or something.

 

"The general design concept was overseen by German industrial designer Alexander Neumeister"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/500_Series_Shinkansen

 

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gavino200

I have to say, I'm developing a fascination with the 300 series. It's face is so ugly, monstrous even, that I can't stop looking at it. It's the ugly sister of the Tokaido shinkansens. She has the sleek body, and understated graceful paint of her sisters. But that face. Poor 300! I've been on the fence about buying one for a couple of months now. 

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chadbag

I'd like to eventually get a 300 just because I've ridden them a bunch of times.  It does have that 90s chic to it

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gavino200
1 minute ago, chadbag said:

I'd like to eventually get a 300 just because I've ridden them a bunch of times.  It does have that 90s chic to it

 

Yes, 90s chic, a wonderful oxymoron!! That's exactly what it is!!

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maihama eki

I will always have a soft spot for the 400 since it was the first Shinkansen I rode. The metallic gray primary color was a departure from prior primarily white schemes, and I like the green stripe. I will say the shorter, narrower cars make it look a bit more like like an express train sometimes than a "proper" Shinkansen.

 

I do like the 500 series. The bubble shaped cockpit, nearly round cross section, and pointy front end reminds me of a spaceship. It looks fast standing still. I also like the cornflower blue and charcoal gray color scheme. I do remember riding the 500 and 700 in a single trip and thinking the passenger experience on the 700 was far superior - quieter and more luxurious feeling.

 

On the interior, the 800 series is very different and appealing to me with a lot of wood and Japanese inspired prints on the seats. The exterior of the 800 is not my favorite.

 

Of more recent Shinkansen, I favor the E7/W7 - maybe because of the bright cobalt blue and copper on white color scheme as much as anything. The ride in Gran Class on these trains is in my opinion as good as it gets - so quiet and smooth. The windows are a bit small for sightseeing though.

 

 

Edited by maihama eki
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What's your favorite Japanese train?  Is it due to a personal connection, or just cause it looks good?  There are no wrong answers!

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serotta1972

I too was never a big fan of the 500 and did purchase one for the collection just to have one but sold it fairly quickly.  I did eventually get the Hello Kitty version.  I also wasn't a big fan of the E4, E5 and E6 until I saw them in person and rode them.  I grew to appreciate and like them and eventually added them to the collection.  My favorite Shinkansens in this order are the 0, 200, 100, 400, E3, E1, and E7.  I grew to like the E2, E5, E6, 700 and 800 but still not a big fan of the 300 and 500.

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JR 500系

Needless to say, it's in my nickname! 

 

My very fav is the 500 series, it simply define the very essence of my Japanese train love... That sleek and daring design, coupled with the blue and sliver strikes at my very heart strings and has been my fav shinkansen ever since... Then came all the painted liveries and my fav is still the EVA one, combining two of my fav was just the right cup of tea for me ~

 

I'm assuming this is only for shinkansens, right?  😛

 

if i had to rank, the second would be the E3... with that many variants like the Komachi, Tsubasa (new & old colour), Toreyu, Genbi, East-i and being narrower and taller, it's very different from the other shinkansens ~ 

 

the 3rd would probably be the E4. The unique double decker has an interesting design, along with the duck bill~ 

 

I love the other shinkansens too, but to rank them for me, the top 3 had to be the above!

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Englehart

for me it's the 100 series it's like the modern version of the 0 series 😄

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  • cteno4 changed the title to What Is Your Favorite Shinkansen?
On 4/27/2021 at 5:47 PM, katoftw said:

I always thought the 300 was a he, due to the square jawline.


buzz light year look.

 

jeff

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chadbag
On 4/27/2021 at 3:21 PM, gavino200 said:

I have to say, I'm developing a fascination with the 300 series. It's face is so ugly, monstrous even, that I can't stop looking at it. It's the ugly sister of the Tokaido shinkansens. She has the sleek body, and understated graceful paint of her sisters. But that face. Poor 300! I've been on the fence about buying one for a couple of months now. 

 

Then there are the non-Shinkansen trains of similar shape like the Tobu 100 "Spacia" and probably others.   That generic chiseled look.

 

And in a different vein, And things like the JR Kyushu 885 limited express which look just like Siemens ICE 3 / Siemens Valero family (the 885 and Velaro types both came into service around 1999/2000 time frame)

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RogerMc

IMHO, 0 series = REVOLUTIONARY, everything else is refinement ...

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gavino200

Another confession. I love the H5 and H6.

 

The H5 was my entry drug. Apart from a vague knowledge of the 0 series as a child, I new nothing about Shinkansens. I didn't even know the word Until I randomly saw a green, futuristic, impossibly cool train on ebay one day, while searching for Kato locos. I was looking for ugly US locos at the time. Later I found JNS, and a world of amazing trains opened up to me. Since then, I've riden some of these trains. and have acquired a nice stack of models. But the green Hyabusa and its  buddy the Komachi will always be my first loves. 

 

They were also the first non identical trains I ever saw couple together. I love how that looks. The more I learn about them (not much really) the more I appreciate them. For example, the fact that the E6 changes it's gauge is mind blowing. Sure, the Tokaido Shinkansens are understated and demure. But brash and bold is also an integral part of the Japanese aesthetic. It's a land of contrasts after all. If it means that my taste is crass, then so be it. I love the Hyabusa and its Komachi pal. 

Edited by gavino200
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disturbman

We should have a déjà-vu button, Gavin is getting a bit senile or I am a Precog.

 

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gavino200

We are honored to have a Precog in our presence. Tell us about the next Kato release, oh all seeing one!!

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disturbman

I see...


...a mistake 😘
 

56 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

For example, the fact that the E6 changes it's gauge is mind blowing.

 

It is, because it doesn't 😉 The line was partially converted to 1,435 mm in the 90s. The Gauge Change Train was a proposal for the Nagasaki Shinkansen. It's since been abandoned but the idea was tested. I think RENFE has some gauge-changing HSTs on order.

Edited by disturbman
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gavino200

Ah, that's good to know. I have to say the idea boggled my mind a bit too much. If I had known it (thought I knew it) when I rode the thing, I'd have been worried the wheels would fall off the axles underneath me. 🤪 So this information is both disappointing and reassuring!!

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gavino200

This must be the experimental train. My learning about Shinkansens is seriously hampered by the fact that I can't read a single word of my Shinkansen book! 

 

hXjdwOf.jpg?1

Edited by gavino200
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