Japan has launched its first bullet train service to the northern island of Hokkaido, connecting Tokyo with some ski areas in Hokkaido and the port city of Hakodate. The trains will cover a distance of approximately 92 miles over the new stretch and travel at a maximum speed of about 162 miles an hour.
The country aims to extend the network of bullet trains, called Shinkansen in Japan, to all tourist destinations in the country as the number of foreign tourists that visited Japan in 2015 totalled about 20 million. The numbers for the first two months of 2016 indicate a rise this year.
In 2014, Japan started a new bullet-train service to Kanazawa, another tourist destination on the Japan Sea coast. The feudal castles and gardens of Kanazawa are well known.
The new bullet train service, built at a cost of approximately $5bn (£3.54bn), will pass through the Seikan Tunnel, one of the world's longest tunnels. Harumi Takahashi, the governor of Hokkaido, said, "The prefecture will enter its tourism season soon, so I hope tourists will take the new Shinkansen trains here."
The Japanese government is now aiming to extend the train line to Sapporo, the biggest city in Hokkaido, by 2030, and have already drawn up plans. Plans to connect mainland Japan with Hokkaido through a bullet train service had started way back in 1973, nine years after the launch of the Shinkansen in Japan.
The bullet train service to Hokkaido, however, will take more time and be costlier for travellers when compared with air travel. The train journey from Tokyo will take around four hours or a little more, compared to a 90-minute flight. The Shinkansen from Tokyo to the last stop, Shin-Hakodate Hokuto station, will cost 22,690 Japanese yen (£142, €179.67, $200.65), higher than discounted air tickets, according to The Wall Street Journal.