NAGANO '98 Kids' Info Center



The Asama: Japan's newest bullet train

Japan's super-high-speed train is called the Shinkansen (also known as the bullet train). There are several Shinkansen lines connecting the major cities of Japan. And now there's a new line called the Asama that runs from Tokyo in the eastern part of the country to Nagano in the central mountain area. The Asama is specially designed for the steep mountains of the Nagano area. It can go up to 260 kilometers per hour (about 156 miles per hour). Even on the steep slopes of the Usui Pass, it can still gallop along at 200 kph (about 120 mph).

Until now, people had to spend almost three hours on a conventional train to go from Tokyo to Nagano. But now you can get there in less than half that time by taking the Asama. The new environment-friendly train is built using the latest technologies, and is designed to make passengers feel comfortable and relaxed. The front of the Asama has a streamlined shape like a duck's bill that helps the train run very quietly. The control panel, which the driver uses to operate the train, is a computer touch-screen.

Because the Asama has to travel through high mountains, it's built to handle lots of snow. The train has a snowplow in front, so it can clear snow right off the tracks as it flies through the beautiful mountains and fields of Nagano.