My Favourite Shinkansen: The 400 Series Shinkansen

We are now into the Top 10 in my series about my favourite shinkansen and at position 9 is the 400 series.

I featured some photographs of the 400 series in my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan

A 400-series shinkansen at Yamagata Station
An E4-series linked with a 400-series passing Kita-Yono station in Saitama – note how the windows on the lower deck of the E4-series are almost totally obscured by the sound-protection wall in this area where there was much opposition to the construction of the shinkansen line
A 400-series joined with an E4-series shinkansen travel along an elevated section south of Omiya
A 400-series shinkansen approaches Tokyo station, with the new elevated section for the Chuo Line, built due to the expansion of shinkansen platforms, above

Here are some additional photographs of the 400 series I took.

By the time I had a better digital camera (in 2011), the 400 series had already been retired (which happened in 2010), and I didn’t get any really good pictures of the train, sadly.

The 400 series was introduced in 1992. I remember it well from the advert on TV. I was staying in Naka-Itabashi (which was the subject of my 400th blog post) and the advert came on. I recall being puzzled by it being referred to as a shinkansen when it looked nothing like the shinkansen I’d seen up to that point – where was the white/cream body? The line also looked very different. I was in Japan that summer in part so that I could look for materials for doing an undergraduate dissertation about the shinkansen, and I thought I already knew a bit about shinkansen. But I’d never heard of the Yamagata Shinkansen. As it was, I didn’t get to travel on the Yamagata Shinkansen until 1996 and I did my dissertation on another topic (the creation of the J.League and Japan’s desire to host the 2002 World Cup).

There is no doubt that the 400 series looked great and very different to other shinkansen up to that point. With large windows, the visibility from the train was also very good. But, in the end, it was a mini-shinkansen, not a full shinkansen, so it was unlikely to get that high in my top 10.

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