The East Japan Railway Company offers the Yamagata Shinkansen, a sophisticated Japanese high-speed train also known as a bullet train. The Yamagata line first came into service in 1999, and links Tokyo, the nation capital, with the city of Shinjo in north-central Yamagata Prefecture (the only exception is between Tokyo and Fukushima, which is served by the Tohoku Shinkansen line). Because the Yamagata runs on regular railway tracks, it is often goes by the nickname “mini-shinkansen”.
Currently, there are two kinds of Yamagata Shinkansen trains operating on the Tokyo to Shinjo route: the E3-1000 Series and E3-2000 Series. Each has a maximum travel speed of 130kms per hour. Most Yamagata trains offer two passenger seating classes: the “Ordinary Car” (basically a standard class coach) and the “Green Car” (similar to first or business class).
The distance between Tokyo and Shinjo is approximately 421 kilometres, and the average travel time by Yamagata is 3 hours, 30 minutes. En route, there are stops in the cities of Fukushima, Yonezawa, Kaminoyama and Yamagata.
Purchase a JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) e-ticket to get onboard the Yamagata Shinkansen train. This handy, all-encompassing pass gives you limitless travel possibilities between Tokyo and the northeastern part of Japan’s main island. The JR EAST PASS also includes travel by Akita, Joetsu, Hokuriku and Tohoku Shinkansen. Passes can be used for 5 flexible travel days over a 14-day period.
Get your pass to exceptional value and flexibility as your plan your journey through the breathtaking Tohoku region of Japan!
Passengers are allowed two pieces of luggage, up to a maximum weight of 60 kg and having total dimensions measuring no more than 250 cm (based on height, length and width). Delivery services are available.
Bicycles are permitted at no extra cost but must be folded or disassembled and packed inside carrying cases.
Small pets including dogs, cats and birds are allowed onboard. However, they must travel in a cage or similar container no bigger than 90 cm (based on height and length) and must weigh less than 10 kg.
Passengers in wheelchairs have access to special seating on the train but must make a request at the station they are boarding from 2 days in advance. Wheelchairs must conform to maximum size requirements and those with steering wheels are generally not allowed. Elevators and escalators at stations are wheelchair-friendly. Strollers can be carried onboard at no extra charge, as long as they are folded and placed either in front of the seat or in the designated luggage compartment.
Yoyogi Park (Tokyo)
The 4th largest park in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park is located next to the Meiji Shrine, one of the country’s most notable temples. The site itself has an impressive history dating back to 1910. Today, the park is famous for its lively atmosphere that draws sports enthusiasts, musicians, painters, cosplay fans and curious onlookers alike.
Shinjo Castle (Shinjo)
Built in 1622, Shinjo Castle was the home and headquarters for the Tozawa clan, a group of powerful feudal lords of Shinjo Domain during most of the Edo Period. The remains of this once-prestigious castle can be found in Mogami Park, just a 15-minute walk from the Shinjo train station and about an hour’s drive from the city of Yamagata.
Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art (Fukushima)
Housing more than 2000 individual exhibits, the museum offers visitors a look into a wide array of artistic styles, including Japanese modern art, 20th Century American Realism and French Impressionism. It’s a collection destined to captivate the art aficionado as well as the casual observer.
Namekawa Great Falls (Yonezawa)
The Namekawa Great Falls is a scenic waterfall off the Abukuma River in Yonezawa. Recognized as one of the country’s top 100 waterfalls by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, the “fanning horsetail”-style cascade delivers several streams of water over a massive 330-foot outcrop of rhyolite rock.
Tsukioka Park (Kaminoyama)
Tsukioka Park is a popular site used by locals for practicing “hanami” – the traditional Japanese custom of watching flowers and appreciating their fleeting beauty. The park is home to approximately 100 Japanese cherry blossom trees and offers a fantastic view of the city’s historic Kaminoyama Castle.
Zao Onsen Ski Resort (Yamagata)
Zao Onsen is one of the best-known skiing and snowboarding destinations in Japan and the site of a year-round natural hot springs resort village. Located more than 2600 feet above sea level amongst scenic mountains, the village includes a range of hotels, restaurants and souvenir boutiques, plus a family snow park for children.