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A new bullet train line opened up in Japan recently that connects the whole island of Kyushu. When the line opened, there were huge celebrations all over the island, and there was even an award-winning commercial for the bullet train line. So if this was such a big deal, why have we not heard of it?

Kyushu is the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, right below the main island of Honshu. This new bullet train (also known as shinkansen) line is the first one to ever connect the whole island north to south, and it’s kind of a big deal.

Why is this new bullet train line so important? It halves the time it used to take to travel Kyushu, it introduces an awesome new type of bullet train (the N700 series, for all you train nerds out there), and is one of the last steps in connecting all of Japan (excluding Okinawa) via bullet train from north to south.

But the bottom line is that you can now cruise from the top to the bottom of Kyushu in style and luxury at about 200 miles per hour in about the same time it takes to watch a movie. Pretty cool, huh?

Do The Wave!

There was even a commercial made for the new bullet train line. 30,000 people ran alongside the train doing what they called the world’s longest wave as it took its 150 mile maiden voyage. People cheered, dressed up, did flips, made signs, and most importantly, flew rainbow-colored banners all the way up and down the line. It’s like if a giant Nyan Cat ran alongside the train for an hour and a half.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5kU6mImUh0']

Unfortunately, the bullet train line opened the same day as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. The commercial was pretty much immediately pulled after the disaster because it seemed in poor taste to have such a celebratory commercial when the country was suffering so much. Opening ceremonies for the line were delayed or cancelled.

A few months after the disaster though, the commercial won a Gold Prize at the international Cannes Lions festival (not to be confused with the Cannes that gives artsy films those palm awards). This new award made a lot of people see the commercial in a new light. Looking back an the commercial, it’s a nice sign of people coming together over something after the catastrophe.

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  • Saitohama

    Oh, so that’s where the old Power Rangers have been hiding this whole time. . .

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    They’ve just been waiting for the return of their greatest nemesis: the train!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000185670208 Nick Haupt

    I wonder how long it’ll be before every island is connected via trains on/under water…

  • Anonymous

    I saw the line under construction while I was on my way to Kagoshima a couple of years ago.  Hopefully, I’ll get to visit this region again soon!

  • Luisete

    Great piece but you’ve mistaken the trains! :) the 800 series have been in use for some time in the already existing section of the Kyushu line between Shin-Yatsushiro and Kagoshima-Chuo. Now, with the completion on the line, aa variant of the N700 is in use (less cars than in the Tokaido line). The video is superb, by the way. It shows hope!

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  • John

    And there’s our train nerd ;)
    So the Kyushu line uses both the 800 series and the N700s now?

  • http://twitter.com/simplyshiny Allie Chambers

    my only memory of the bullet train in Japan is the bathrooms.  Traditional Japanese toilets + fast moving train suddenly moving faster = well….falling….

    anywho, after that TMI, I loved that video. Especially with the thought that it could be kind of motivational…
     

  • http://twitter.com/andoryuu3 案努龍

    A bigger deal than Ron Burgundy, even!

    My girlie girl is from Kagoshima and my friends all live in Kitakyushu, so pretty cool for me.

    Even so… The thing that sucks is from Osaka and down, the JR rail pass is NOT valid for Shinkansen! So I will likely be lame and take the alternative.. slow trains.. :|

    But hey, at least it’ll be scenic. Maybe I’ll break down in December and ride that bull anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bianca-Porter/100000530727677 Bianca Porter

    congrad to japan and their new line, such a happy video to, :) it does show hope. are they going to start airing it again?

  • キツネじゃない

     U-underwater?! That’s going to be kinda inconvenient for all those people doing the wave… Maybe scuba divers?

  • Sorianojairo

    for some weird reason when the guy started giving thanks, gave me goosebumps and got tears out of me xp like to see happy people

  • Madbeanman

    Hashi are you sure you didnt confuse the ad for the shinkansen with an ad for gay pride. There is an awful lot of rainbow in the video.

  • Iwan Santoso
  • Leesy

    “is one of the last steps in connecting all of Japan (excluding Okinawa) via bullet train from north to south.”

    No one ever remembers Shikoku :(

  • Kafka

    My Japanese teacher in Nagasaki was annoyed about this project from the beginning as it was a big waste of government money in her opinion. The time it saves from getting the normal train to Fukuoka and then changing over to the shinkansen is marginal (30 mins if I remember correctly). I’m sure it was a great boost to the local economy in the area.

    I always wanted to travel by Shinkansen, but I always found it cheaper to travel by plane when I went from Nagasaki > Tokyo & Nagaski > Niigata. :(

  • http://www.kilala.nl Cailin Coilleach

    Not valid below Osaka? Since when?! 

    When i visited Japan in 2007/2008 I had a JR RailPass and used to to travel between Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. No problems at all.

  • Tawlar98

    They could do underwater tunnels. That’d be seriously awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1481947446 Riley Hollobaugh

    神村学園吹奏楽部!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Whoops! You’re absolutely right. Thanks for correcting me.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Whoops! You’re absolutely right. Thanks for correcting me.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Whoops! You’re absolutely right. Thanks for correcting me.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yeah, the time saved isn’t that great, but I’m sure it’s more convenient than transferring from train to train and making a bunch of stops.. And in terms of wasted government money, there are much worse projects. :p

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    It looks like it won a bronze in that category, but it also won a gold in another category: http://www.canneslions.com/work/outdoor/entry.cfm?entryid=7892&award=2

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    From what I can tell, there are vague plans in the future for a shinkansen line in Shikoku, but it’s definitely getting the short end of the stick at the moment :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1062810014 Alexander Michaelson

    They did! That’s how Hokkaido is connected via Shinkansen–with an underwater tunnel.

  • Julia

    When you live in Kagoshima (as I did), this is an exciting thing. Before we had to transfer and take the “Tsubame relay” because the shinkansen line wasn’t complete. It was pretty inconvenient and the relay was very shaky train that was slightly uncomfortable compared to the actual shinkansen. So yaaay! :)

  • Jon E.

    Yeah, I rode that to Hakodate and Sapporo! Unfortunately, there are no windows to see….lol

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  • Anonymous

    Are you saying that you took the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Hakata station? Because JR’s English Rail Pass website claims the rail pass is not valid for that shinkansen, nor is it valid for the Kyushu shinkansen.

    Other trains, yes, no problem. But my friends from Kitakyushu (50+) usually responded weird when I said I would use the Rail Pass on the shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to visit them. And that’s around the time I discovered that bit on their website.

  • Cailin Coilleach

    No it doesn’t say that at all. It says that, as usual, you cannot use the nozomi through Kyushu, but you can use Hikari, Tsubame and others. But apparently it’s fine to use the shinkansen from Osaka to Hakata. We definitely plan on doing this in a few weeks.

    http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en004.html

    And no, back then I didn’t take the shinkansen to Hakata, but to Kokura which is of course closer to Osaka.

  • http://twitter.com/VXLbeast VXLbeast

    You simply cannot watch that without smiling.  It’s impossible.

  • http://twitter.com/VXLbeast VXLbeast

    First thing I thought when I saw the colorful suits was, “The Prism Rangers!”  Then I was all like, “Oh, I guess those are the power rangers”.  Oh well.

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