Scroll to Top
Win a luxury 2-night sparkling Sussex break with Pride of Britain Hotels

Japan by train: The top 4 scenic train rides to take from Tokyo

Shinkansen bullet trains are the fastest and most convenient way of discovering Japan.

By LLM Reporters  |  March 28, 2022
Shinkansen or JR Bullet train run pass through Mt. Fuji and Shibazakura at spring
Image Credit: blanscape/Bigstock.com

A country of many contradictions, Japan is a place where the ultra-modern meets the traditional, formalities meet utter quirkiness, and sublime natural beauty, creativeness and excellent food underpin the whole thing.

If you’ve never visited Japan, then you’re in for a treat the very first time you do, as you’ll uncover a world that feels so out of this world, a place that is quite difficult to describe to a person who has never been, but somewhere that is so simply inviting for all of the ways described above, and so very much more too.

The popular manga and anime, karaoke, vending machines that sell just about anything, cat cafes, forest bathing, the majestic Mount Fuji and beauty of the blossom trees, advanced technology that wows, bullet trains, and more – what do you want to see, do and learn about on a trip to this fascinating country?

Travelling in style by Shinkansen

Shinkansen bullet train at shizuoka
Shinkansen bullet trains are the fastest and most convenient way of discovering Japan. Image credit: Torsakarin/Bigstock.com

With so much to take in, when planning a visit to Japan it makes sense to arrange to stop off at a number of destinations along the way to ensure that you get the best out of the experience, and the best way to travel internally anywhere you go, but especially in Japan, is via train. A network that can take you from the major cities to pretty remote locations in style and speed, Japanese trains are renowned for their punctuality and also their safety, with very little delays recorded, especially on the Shinkansen, the bullet train.

Shinkansen trains are a great way to travel to other areas of Japan from Tokyo as they not only offer a swift and reliable service – something that any regular traveller of trains will appreciate – but the trains themselves provide a comfortable way to travel too. The best way to enjoy the journey has to be in Gran Class. With a 2-1 carriage configuration, reclining leather seats, an attendant to cater to guests’ needs, complimentary food by a Michelin star chef, drinks and a welcome kit, you know you’re in good hands here.

These are the top 4 scenic train rides from Tokyo

Kyoto autumn cityscape in Japan. Autumn leaves and Kyoto city, Japan.
Often referred to as the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto boasts Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and plenty of formal traditions for travellers to learn more about and expand their knowledge of Japan

On a visit to Japan, the famed capital city of Tokyo is always a good place to start as you really do get a good feel for what makes this country so interesting from here. It’s a busy city that manages to blend modernistic neon-lit skyscrapers, with a beautiful backdrop of Mount Fuji, with traditional elements such as ancient temples and the Meiji Shinto Shrine. Other highlights include Senso-Ji – a historic temple, the Tokyo Skytree tower, Imperial Palace, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

From Tokyo, there are a number of routes you can take that will have you exploring the delights of another area in just a few hours, and we’ve listed some of our top picks below.

Kyoto

The route connecting the two cities on the island of Honshu is one of the most scenic and it’s reachable in just over two hours, meaning that it’s not only a pleasurable journey, but a quick one too. often referred to as the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto boasts Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and plenty of formal traditions for travellers to learn more about and expand their knowledge of Japan.

Osaka

Reachable from Tokyo in two and a half hours, Osaka is a large port city not far south of Kyoto. Visit here for the famed street foods, buzzing nightlife and lively locals, modern architecture and the 16th century Osaka Castle. Dotombori district is a must-visit for dining and the theatre, Universal Studios Japan will impress, and shoppers will be kept busy here.

The Atomic Bomb Dome at Hiroshima in Japan. Nuclear weapon memorial
Hiroshima is best known for the destruction caused by an atomic bomb during World War II

Nagoya

Reachable in and hour and a half and boasting some of the same scenic views as the trip to Kyoto, a visit to Nagoya is a recommended for those with a love of castles, cars, and culture. The Tokugawa Art Museum and Nagoya City Science Museum are a must, the Sky-Boat Ferris wheel will impress, Nagoya, Okazaki and Inuyama Castles offer a glimpse into the area’s history and the Atsuta Jingu (Shrine) is a fascinating find.

Hiroshima

A little further away at fours hours, but an important visit to make, Hiroshima is best known for the destruction caused by an atomic bomb during World War II. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the museum and the historic remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome commemorate the event, while Hiroshima Castle tells of a history before then. See blossom trees in spring, wander the historic garden of Shukkei-en and take a boat trip to enjoy the best of the city.