A Nationwide High Speed Train Network
When the Shinkansen first started running, it served only the Tokaido route between Tokyo and Osaka. But since then, other Shinkansen lines have been added, and the bullet train network now extends throughout Japan. The San'yo route connecting Osaka with Okayama (180 kilometers, 112 miles) opened in 1972 and was extended from Okayama to Fukuoka (442 kilometers) in 1975. The Tohoku route from Omiya to Morioka (505 kilometers) and the Joetsu route from Omiya to Niigata (304 kilometers) both opened in 1982 and have since been extended from Omiya to Tokyo. The Nagano route from Takasaki to Nagano opened in 1997 - just in time for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. And in December 2002 the Tohoku route was extended north to Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture, which is near the northern edge of Japan's main island. The trip from Tokyo to Hachinohe (632 kilometers) takes just 2 hours and 56 minutes on the Shinkansen train called Hayate (meaning strong breeze). The Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen routes were completed in 1992 and 1997, respectively. No new facilities had to be built for these lines to open; the tracks just had to be widened. In 2004 the Kagoshima route of the Kyushu Shinkansen opened, serving the 127 kilometers between Shin Yatsushiro and Kagoshima.