My Favourite Shinkansen: The 0 Series Shinkansen

We are now into the Top 10 in my series about my favourite shinkansen and at position 8 is the original 0 series (it actually had no number when first introduced, but became the 0 series when the 100 series was introduced).

I featured some photographs of the 0 series in my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan

A 0-series-renewal waiting at the narrow Hakata-Minami station
A 0-series shinkansen near Higashi-Hiroshima. Note how although this service is only 6 carriages long rather than 16 as in the past, it has more pantographs (three) than are found on newer shinkansen
The familiar rounded ‘bullet’ shape front of the original shinkansen – here in its ‘renewal’ design – at Fukuyama station, with Fukuyama Castle in the background
A 0-series-renewal near Higashi-Hiroshima

Here are some additional photographs of the 0 series I took. Most of my pictures of it were probably taken before I had a digital camera at all, let alone a good one, so the selection here is quite limited.

In 2001 the NRM in York unveiled a 0 series which was added to its collection and I was their for the unveiling

Taiko performance at the unveiling ceremony
Celebratory sake being poured

Back to photos taken in Japan…

A play area inside a 0 series shinkansen
A preserved 0-series at Nippon Sharyo
Part of a display in Tokyo Station for the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen

As noted above I was at the NRM for the unveiling of their 0-series. I even still have my wooden sake cup from that day.

Of course this isn’t the only 0-series memorabilia that I have – I also have badge that must date back to when I first went to Japan in 1989…

And A 0-series model I bought while in Japan one year…

As noted in my post Designs That Defined Modern Japan: Shinkansen, the 0-series was the original and arguably most iconic of the designs. So why is it only 8th in my list? Largely because of the amazing designs that came after it. After all, the front of the 0-series worked better as a plane (as I discuss in my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan). Also, compared to other shinkansen, it wasn’t as comfortable. So, rather than why is it only 8th, perhaps the question should be as to why it is as high as 8th? The answer to that is largely based on nostalgia. One of the things I remember from the 0 series at the NRM was how it even had the right smell of the train, let alone associating it with many of my earlier visits to Japan (though not my first).

These days I can’t remember many of my trips of going on 0-series and I can’t remember much of seeing one of the original 0-series at the RTRI during my visit in 2001, although I have video of that (and the nose cone that lights up) somewhere.

Just like I discussed in relation to Concorde, one of the things about the 0-series is just how iconic it was, as also ties in with another image from my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan

The image of the shinkansen being used to promote ‘World Citizenship Day’ in Taiwan

Returning to the NRM, one of the book launches that I did for Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan was done at the NRM…

I went back to the NRM again in 2011.

It was good to see the 0-series again, but my main memory of the visit was going into the library and my daughter’s excitement at finding a copy of my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan, not so much for the fact that they had a copy of the book, but more because it contains a picture and mention of her. The people trying to quietly use the library may have been less impressed by her outburst.

Of course, I have seen 0-series at other museums, such as the one in Nagoya. But as I write this post on the 1 October 2021, the anniversary of the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen, a picture of a 0-series at the Railway Museum in Omiya, which recreates the scene at Tokyo Station on 1 October 1964 (which I also discuss in a recent podcast), is the most appropriate way to end this post.

See also

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