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What Is Your Favorite Shinkansen?

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That's the one, the フリーゲージトレイン ("free gauge train").

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Martijn Meerts

I think the 800 used to be my favourite, also because it was the first Japanese model train I ever bought. I still really like, it has a nice shape, and I love the colour combination.


However, since my interest has started shifting more towards older JNR stuff, I guess my favourite would be the 0 series.

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Yes the Nagasaki dual gauge train was abandoned due to the projected high and frequent maintenance costs. The red and gold prototype looked pretty cool but the Nagasaki connection is back underway with standard gauge track.


Back to topic, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Tohoku Shinkansens more than the Tokaido Sanyo purely for the variety of colours and designs.

The first shinkansen i rode was an E2 to Nagano when i first moved to Japan in 2005. A year later i remember going on the 500 Nozomi from Tokyo to Kyoto and thinking how futuristic it was. The 700 will always be an image of modern Japan for me. I never really liked the 300. Travelling further west in those days i do remember seeing 6 car 0系 sets of which i knew from Super Trains Top Trumps as well as 4 car 100系 sets in that grey and lime green livery. Probably didn’t appreciate the gravity of seeing them in their last few years at the time.

 But the E5 in 2011, delayed its debut due to the Tsunami but what a design. Like nothing else.




200系 (for looking like it could clear snow without effort)

E4系 (for trying to make a bus look sporty and kind of succeeding)

E5系 (for rewriting the design book)

700系 ( for being an icon of modern Japan)

500系 (that bubble canopy and before it got its wings clipped on the Kodama service)


Least favourite


E1系 (horrible initial livery and cheese wedge nose)

300系 (Just looked lazy to me and i first saw after 700 had started so seemed ugly and obsolete)

N700-8000 or A/S (yawn!)






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When I started out in Japanese N scale I originally had zero interest in Shinkansen since I've been a freight modeler most of my life and passenger trains were never my thing. My first one was an E7 Hokuriko Shinkansen, originally I was only going to get the three car add-on but I thought it looked too short and I bought the other six cars. I've tried to keep my collection limited to JR East but we all know how well that works...


Favorites of the top of my head:


400 Series 


(my Mini-Shinkansen bias is clear)

200 Series


Least favorites:

300 Series (looks like it was in an accident)

500 Series (too pointy)

700 Series (solely for the really boring paint jobs on them, the Hikari Rail Star is an example of a better scheme in my opinion)


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Posted (edited)

I’ve got a soft spot for the 100 Series as this the the type I rode on many times when I lived in Japan way back in 1989-90. My favourite model of the Shinkansen would have to be the 16 car 0 Series B Train Shorty. I just love the way it snakes around corners. We’ve got a few Kato Shinkansens of various vintages but the B Train is my favourite by far. 

Edited by tossedman
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What a great thread, and a fantastic opening post from 200系!


I love that there are no wrong answers here - because it's true. We all find beauty in different things, and there is so much to be found here!


The 500 series was my gateway into Japanese rail, and so it'll always be top of my list. But nostalgia aside, it represented the pinnacle of Japanese engineering at the time, and it's brutal and aggressive form will always win it for me. If you were to pull every shinkansen into a line-up and ask people which one looked the most futuristic, they'd still pick the 500 despite it's age. It's the Concorde of Shinkansen - over-engineered, complex to maintain, and expensive to run... but just look at the thing. Love it, and getting to check out the drivers cab of one in the Kyoto railway museum a while back was a true highlight.


Runners up go to the 700 series in Hikari Rail Star guise (much more entertaining to look at than the standard 700, and always appreciated the extra space inside from the 2x2 seating), and the E/W7 series. Probably some eyes rolling at the E/W7 nomination - it's one of the most generic looking Shinkansen, but there's a simplicity and elegance to it which I can't ignore. It's also a fantastically smooth train to ride, and it goes to places I like 😄 


Not really a massive fan of the Tohoku lines, other than the Max which is a true beast of a machine. The rest are all a bit bland/just not quite right - the E5/6 which ain't pretty from most angles. Out of those two? E6 every time. One half of the Alfa-X is looking tasty though.


I love the odd relationship most of us seem to have with the 300 - it is easily my least favourite series. But there's something so 90s about it that part of me is almost starting to come round. Like, I still hate it, but I also feel a weird, misplaced affection for it at the same time. It's the odd one out, the ugly duckling, the middle child, etc etc... it'll go down in history as the one of the Shinkansen most will never remember, and for that reason there's a weird charm to it. Also, it looks like a bit like a Cylon. I think I need to lay off the beer.


Brilliant thread folks.

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I remember reading about the Tokaido Shinkansen in a book about trains of the world when I was young, and I still think the 0 series (and by turn its Tohoku sister, the 200 series) is a timeless design. 

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5 hours ago, Kyouhei said:

I remember reading about the Tokaido Shinkansen in a book about trains of the world when I was young, and I still think the 0 series (and by turn its Tohoku sister, the 200 series) is a timeless design. 


Was it the Ladybird books "Trains" book? That's were I saw the "Bullet Train" first too!



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On 5/3/2021 at 7:36 AM, gavino200 said:


Was it the Ladybird books "Trains" book? That's were I saw the "Bullet Train" first too!




I couldn't resist searching and buying this gem. Well worth it. Every picture brought back warm memories. This was my first Shinkansen sighting. I expected it to be described as a "Bullet Train", but to my surprise it was presented as the new Tokaido line.





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