Hokuriku Shinkansen, the embodiment of both traditional Japanese beauty and the latest technology
Since the completion of the first route in 1964 when the Tokyo Olympics were held, the Shinkansen route has been extending to every region of Japan. The newest route to open will be the one between Nagano City in Nagano Prefecture and Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture. This route will connect Tokyo and Toyama in about 2 hours by train, which previously took about 3 and a half hours, and Tokyo and Kanazawa in about 2 and a half, which previously took more than 4 hours. There is also no need to change trains any more.
The area along the route of the Hokuriku Shinkansen is known for its natural beauty. In particular, in Toyama Prefecture right after passing through the tunnel from Nagano Prefecture, you can enjoy the view of a mountain range as high as 3,000m altitude (about 9,840ft) from the windows on one side and spectacular views of the Sea of Japan from the other.
The Hokuriku Shinkansen cars were developed with the theme of “bringing together traditional Japanese beauty and the functional beauty of the newest technology”. Japanese traditional way of thinking, the newest technology and design, which was supervised by industrial designer Kiyoyuki Okuyama known as “the first non-Italian to design a Ferrari”, were blended together to give a beautiful and elegant finish.
The head of the train is streamlined with an environmentally-friendly design feature called “one-motion line”. The sky blue color of the body represents the blue sky that spreads over the route of the Hokuriku Shinkansen and the copper color represents the color of copperware and inlay works, which are traditional crafts of Japan. Furthermore, with the newest shake prevention mechanism and the interior space carefully designed to the smallest detail, you can experience both Japanese tradition and the latest technology across all aspects.
There are 3 grades of cars on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The highlight is “Gran Class”, the top grade car of which there is only one on each Hokuriku Shinkansen. The beauty of Japanese traditional architecture and the colors of traditional craftworks such as lacquer ware are fully incorporated in the design of the car. Inside, while ordinary car seats are arranged into 5 per row across, Gran Class seats are arranged into only 3 per row, making the seats spacious and comfortable. The leather seats that recline up to 45 degrees are equipped with a table, desk light, partition and shoe tray to guarantee passengers a comfortable and luxurious travel experience. In addition, green (first-class) and ordinary car seats have different designs and are equipped with facilities including power outlets available on all seats.
By the way, you might wonder how the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which was made in a factory, was moved to the railroad tracks. The movie above answers this question. In Japan, the railroad track width is different for local trains and Shinkansen so Shinkansen cannot be moved using the railroad tracks of local trains. For this reason, the Hokuriku Shinkansen was transported by boats and trucks for about 300km (186 miles) from Kobe, where the factory is located, to Kanazawa, which is the base of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The movie is a short documentary about the entire transportation process.
Let’s take a stroll in Toyama surrounded by rich nature
The opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen makes access to Toyama Prefecture and Ishikawa Prefecture much more convenient. The highlight of Toyama Prefecture above all else is its beautiful nature. There are many attractive spots including Kurobe Gorge where you can enjoy hot springs amidst nature and Gokayama where Japanese traditional culture strongly remains.
Another popular tourist attraction is a mountain climbing route called the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Although you can only visit it from mid-April to mid-November because it is an area of heavy snowfall, you can easily view the scenery of the sky up close and mountains with an altitude over 2,000m (about 6,562ft) looming before your eyes. If you are visiting in April or May, you should be able to see the unique sight called Yuki no Otani or huge valley of snow. Streets are cleared by digging through the snow on both sides of the street, creating snow walls as high as 5m. This superb view can only be seen in this area during this season.
Enjoy Kanazawa to the full where tradition and modernity coexist
Kanazawa Station, where the prefectural office of Ishikawa Prefecture is located as well as the final of the Hokuriku Shinkansen as of 2015, was ranked 6th among “the most beautiful stations in the world” in 2011 on the online version of American travel magazine “Travel + Leisure”. This station is the pride of the citizens of Kanazawa City as a symbol that visualizes the blend of Japanese hospitality and tradition. Also at the “21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa” in Kanazawa City, you can appreciate art, mainly modern art, from in and outside of Japan. Quite a lot of people visit to see the beautiful building designed by SANAA, a Japanese architectural unit that was awarded the Pritzker Prize, which is said to be the Nobel Prize in architecture.
On the other hand, Kanazawa is also a place where Japanese tradition can be experienced. You can see the scenery of Japan from the good old days at traditional tourist attractions including Higashi Chayagai and Kenrokuen Garden. There are also many traditional craft works including Kutani Ware and items using gold leaf, making it an enjoyable place for shopping as well. Toyama Prefecture, where you can fully enjoy the nature of Japan, and Ishikawa Prefecture, where you can meet both traditional and modern Japan at the same time, are places you must visit on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.