In a year which will see the 150th anniversary of the railway network, the release of the blockbuster Bullet Train, and the brand new route Nishi Kyushu open, Japan’s world-renowned train network has many reasons to celebrate in 2022. Made up of five islands interconnected by world-class trains, which are well storied for their clean, safe and ultra-reliable service, this year puts the spotlight on Japan as the destination to explore by rail.
The 150th anniversary of Japan Rail
2022 sees Japan Rail (JR) celebrate its 150th anniversary, having been launched in 1872 and now the majority owner of rail transport in the country. Before the launch of JR, Japan was in a period of isolation known as Sakoku, and so on re-opening itself to the world, it moved forward with rapid modernisation with one of the largest projects being its transportation. The first rail service in Japan operated between Shimbashi and Yokohama station, while the first bullet trains came later in 1964. Built in order to provide a better connection between Tokyo and other prefectures, as well as in advance of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, Japan’s Bullet trains have led in the field of high-speed transport.
Bullet Train sped into screens in August
Hitting screens on the 3rd of August, Bullet Train is the high-energy action comedy starring Brad Pitt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Based on the novel by writer Kotaro Isaka, the story follows assassins on board one of Japan’s iconic Shinkansen (bullet train). Beginning in Tokyo, several assassins and hitmen find themselves heading towards Kyoto with somehow connected objectives. As the film progresses and the high-speed train makes its way across the prefectures of Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga and Kyoto, see explosive fight scenes, the protagonist’s love of Wasabi Peas and the life-sized yuru-kyara (Japanese mascot), Momonga, on board.
The opening of Nishi Kyushu (West Kyushu)
Launching on the 23rd of September, Japan’s newest bullet train route Kamone, meaning Seagull, will carry the brand new Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen along Western Kyushu. The 41-mile bullet train line will connect the hot spring town of Takeo-Onsen in the North West, in Saga prefecture, down to Nagasaki, the mid-northwest coastal city and a gateway to the Goto Islands. In time, the Nishi-Kyushu route will connect Nagasaki station to Shin-Tosu station, in the far east of the Saga prefecture. This construction is yet to start however JR plans to provide a service for passengers to transfer at Takeo-Onsen Station allowing them to still carry out the full journey.