A new generation of "bullet trains" is being introduced the length and breadth of Japan, offering faster and more comfortable service to travelers than ever before.
The latest additions to Japan railways' already impressive service - the Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa E5 series - will make their debut on March 5. The trains have already completed several test runs at 300 km per hour on stretches of track between Sendai, north of Tokyo, and Shin-Aomori Station, in the far north of Japan's main island of Honshu.
Japanese companies are presently in negotiations with a number of foreign countries and regions for the provision of high-speed train services, including California and Brazil, meaning that the trains presently being put through their paces in Japan may well be in service overseas in the near future.
A new bullet train service is due to link Hakata, on the northern coast of Japan's most southerly main island of Kyushu, with the city of Kagoshima from March 12.
Kyushu Railway Co. is looking to tap into the anticipated increase in leisure travelers due to the new high-speed link with Japan's major cities, with the introduction of a new luxury Cruise Train, which will take travelers in a three-day tour around Kyushu, taking in the major sites of Nagasaki, Beppu and Fukuoka.
The train will have six or seven carriages fitted out with sofas, dining tables and larger viewing windows.
Some will also include restaurant facilities and the number of travelers will be limited to an exclusive 30 or so on each trip.
The railway company aims to start the new service in early 2013 and tickets will cost around Y200,000 (€1,764) - although rail firms believe that travelers will be happy to pay that sort of figure for a luxury travel experience.
Luxury has been a byword in the new Hayabusa train, which incorporates a new 18-seat first class section that is akin to first class in an aircraft.
The seats in GranClass are larger and have leather coverings. They recline further than most seats and the cabin benefits from soft lighting, wool carpets and a wooden ceiling. Personal attendants - trained by Japan's most experienced flight attendants - are on hand to meet passengers' needs during the journey.