My Favourite Shinkansen: The 700 Series Shinkansen

I am now down to the final two, the 700 series and E4 series, in my list of my favourite shinkansen. As today (14 October) is 鉄道の日 (Tetsudo-no-hi) ‘Railway Day’ in Japan, marking the anniversary of the opening of the first railway, it seems appropriate to bring this series of posts to an end by posting the final two on the same day. This post is about the 700 series. But what position did it finish in on my list? Read on to find out.

As I mentioned before in relation to the 800 series and 500 series, all of my top 4 appeared on the front cover of my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan (one from each of the 4 JR companies that had shinkansen at the time of writing it), although I hadn’t intended it to be that way when I started to put the list together.

Here is the original of that picture for the 700-series

A 700-series shinkansen passing Lake Hamana
A 700-series shinkansen passing a speed-boat racing (one the few forms of legalized gambling in Japan) stadium near Hamanako

I featured many photographs of the 700 series in my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan

A 700-series shinkansen passing an exhibition hall in Shizuoka
Inside the cab of the 700-series
The smart profile of the 700-series
A 700-series shinkansen passes alongside the monorail that connects to Haneda Airport and the mass of conventional lines in Tokyo
A 700-series shinkansen at Nagoya station. In the background is JR Tokai’s impressive Central Towers development that has completely transformed the station and the surrounding area
A 700-series shinkansen with the Ambitious Japan! livery passes a school in Tokyo [for some years this photo was used by the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield in their promotional materials]
A 700-series shinkansen exits a standard tunnel design
A 700-series Hikari Rail Star shinkansen passing a bridge near Okayama
A Hikari Rail Star at Hakata station
A Hikari Rail Star at Shin-Osaka station
A 700-series shinkansen passing Hamanako

I still remember the first time I saw a 700 series. It was in 1999, the year that the 700 series was introduced, and I was on a hikari service that had stopped at Fukuyama to allow a nozomi service to pass. I checked my timetable and spotted that it was going to be a 700 series so got out of the back of the train and went to take a picture as the 700 series passed. Although the picture was taken before I had a digital camera, I do have a scan of it…

Since then I have taken many more pictures of the 700 series…

Passing Sekigahara
A display in Tokyo Station for the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen

I remember that the first time that I saw the 700 I didn’t think it was as amazing as I was expecting. I guess it had hard shoes to fill, being the next new shinkansen along the Tokaido and San’yo Shinkansen after the 500 series. But, as I discuss in the Interview for the Compounding Curiosity Podcast, I came to like its duckbill platypus look. Like the E4, it was an interesting train to photograph due to the angles and curves on the front of the train. It’s not perfect, it’s flawed. And, as I discussed in relation to the 500 series and Concorde (and connects with the discussion on wabi sabi) ultimately that’s something that gives it more character and a type of beauty. On top of this, the profile view is amazing – so sharp.

While the 700 series has been retired on Tokaido Shinkansen, it’s still possible (as of 2021) to see it on the San’yo Shinkansen, often as the Hikari Rail Star service, which is my favourite one to look at and travel on (the reserved carriages are 2×2 rather than 2×3). Was never that keen on the ‘Silence Car’ – but otherwise the Rail Star is fabulous.

In addition to the plethora of photos, I also have some 700-series memorabilia. This includes a model that I bought while in Japan one year…

and a keyring…

While the 700 series is becoming harder to see, it continues to live on in my teaching. As with the E4, I feature a video of being in the cab – showing how the train is kept on schedule. I’ve been in the cab of the 700 series twice, which no doubt adds to why I particularly like this shinkansen (I’ve been in the cab of all of my top 4 (albeit the 800 while it was at the factory – but I’ve also been in the cab of the E2, which was not so high on the list). It’s the series of shinkansen that I particularly associate with the four years that I was working on my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan. I think the 700 series is the one that had the most photographs in the book. It was also on a 700 series that I wrote the preface to the book on 1 October 2004, the 40th anniversary of the opening of the shinkansen.

Although technically not a 700 series, I have also discussed about getting lucky with photos in relation to the T4 Dr Yellow, which is based on the 700 series.

So where did the 700 series finish on my list of favourite shinkansen? As I also discuss in the Interview for the Compounding Curiosity Podcast, it’s at the top, at Number 1.

To recap here is the list in rank order:

  1. 700 series
  2. E4 series
  3. 500 series
  4. 800 series
  5. E7/W7 series
  6. N700 series (including N700A and N700s variants)
  7. 100 series
  8. 0 series
  9. 400 series
  10. E1 series
  11. 300 series
  12. E2 series
  13. E6 series
  14. E5/H5 series
  15. 200 series
  16. E3 series

See also

6 Comments Add yours

  1. eujin says:

    The Hikari Rail Star has a nice paint scheme and the shape has grown on me too, but the 700 series wouldn’t be in my top 3, which would be 500, 800, E4 in that order. In fact, I’m not even sure I’d have the 700 above the 0 series or even the 300 or 400.

    Liked by 2 people

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