My Favourite Shinkansen: The E5/H5-Series Shinkansen

The next in my series about my favourite shinkansen is the E5/H5 series. Yet again it is a JR East shinkansen (albeit the 200 series dates back to the JNR days of pre-1987). The ‘E’ prefix, as with the E3-series, denotes that it is a JR East shinkansen. It first started service in 2011. When the Hokkaido Shinkansen opened in 2016, they also began to use a shinkansen based design, but to show that it was one of their shinkansen ‘H5’ was used (using H1 would have caused confusion, I guess).

There is no doubt that the E5/H5 is a spectacular train, as some of the following photographs show…

One thing that I find interesting about the E5, given my research interests in relation to ‘wrapping culture‘, is that it’s the closest to seeing JR East’s corporate colour of light green as the main colour on a shinkansen. As I discussed in my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan, for one reason or another, the JR companies’ corporate colours haven’t featured much on their flagship trains.

So, given how spectacular the train, why does it end up so low on my list of favourite shinkansen? The main reason is that this was the first shinkansen to feature JR East’s new ‘Grand class’ – which sits above the ordinary class and ‘green car’ (first class). I just don’t like the idea that there is yet another band of service and this is somehow more exclusive – there are even signs on the door to the area saying that you should not even enter if you don’t have the right ticket. I’m sure it’s lovely in there and I assume those who use it think it’s worth paying the extra, but, for whatever reason, I don’t like it and so the E5/H5 ends up low on my list.

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