Difference in Shinkasens: Nozomi, Hikari, Kodama, Mizuho, Sakura

The bullet trains Nozomi, Hikari, Kodama, Mizuho and Sakura runs in either or both sections of the railway networks called the Tokaido Shinkansen Line and/or Sanyo Shinaknsen Line, which are divided into different sections with different companies that regulate them. 

The Tokaido Shinkansen is the swift Japanese bullet train line that run between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. Regulated by the Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), the 3 Shinkansens that run throughout the Tokaido line includes the Nozomi (the fastest among the 3 bullet trains), Hikari, and the Kodama. 

The Sanyo Shinkansen is another network of swift bullet trains between Shin-Osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka City), which are 2 of the biggest Cities toward the west areas of Japan. The locomotive services throughout the Sanyo area is controlled by the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) excluding the area of Shin-Osaka which is regulated by the JR Central. 5 of the Shinkansens that run throughout the Sanyo line includes the Kodama, Nozomi, Hikari (3 of which also run in the Tokaido areas), Mizuho and Sakura. 

Nozomi Bullet Train
*Not valid for JR pass holders

The Nozomi is the swiftest train among the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansens. Its stopping points are limited to the amplest of train stations between Shin-Osaka and Hakata. Nozomi's fastest train edition, the N700 series travels from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka (a distance of 515 km) in roughly 2 hours & 22 minutes, sustaining its rate of movement at 168 mph (270 km/h). 

Two Nozomi Shinkansens passing one another at Himeji Station, Hyogyo Prefecture. Photo by: Flickr@LASZLO ILYES

Two Nozomi Shinkansens passing one another at Himeji Station, Hyogyo Prefecture. Photo by: Flickr@LASZLO ILYES

Sanyo Shinkansen's N700 series operated under JR Central. The photo was taken at Nishi-Akashi Station, Hyogo Prefecture in 2016. Photo by Flickr@hans-johnson

Sanyo Shinkansen's N700 series operated under JR Central. The photo was taken at Nishi-Akashi Station, Hyogo Prefecture in 2016. Photo by Flickr@hans-johnson

Mizuho Bullet Train
*Not valid for JR pass holders

The Mizuho bullet trains include the JR West & JR Kyushu's N700-7000 & N700-8000 series running between Shin-Osaka & Kagoshima-Chuo. These series include train sets of 8 cars by its quickest travel time at 3 hours & 45 mins, a few of them being 25 minutes faster than the Sakura bullet trains.

Hikari Bullet Train
*Valid for JR pass holders

Hikari are swiftly traveling locomotive service running within the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines. This train makes more stops compared to the Nozomi, but it reaches destinations faster than the Kodama shinkansen, which makes even more stops. 

*Hikari is the quickest bullet train that the JR pass covers.

Kodama Bullet Train
*Valid for JR pass holders

The train name "Kodama" is interpreted as the word meaning "echo". This train comes to a halt at all stations that the Nozomi passes on its route inside the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. This makes this locomotive service the slowest of all shinkansens, and are used mainly to transfer between minor stations such as Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture. Train goers within exclusive towns, such as Tokyo & Osaka popularly travel on the Nozomi or Hikari transportation suppliers, making smaller amounts of stopping points. 

Kodama Shinkansen's N700 series reaching speeds up to 186 mph (300km/h).. PHOTO BY FLICKR@Yuya Tamai

Kodama Shinkansen's N700 series reaching speeds up to 186 mph (300km/h).. PHOTO BY FLICKR@Yuya Tamai

Sakura Bullet Train
*Valid for JR pass holders

Regulated by the JR Kyushu, the Sakura Bullet Train travel within Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo. The Sakura route and destination are similar to that of the route the Hikari takes where both of the trains stop in Shin-Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kokura, Hakata, Kumamoto and Kagoshima etc. 

Models

*N700 series
These series reach the maximum speed of 186 mph (300 km/h). Its "tilting capability", with the max tilt of one degree of the train due to its tracks, allows for the train to keep a stable speed of 168 mph (270 km/h) when passing curves. It also has the fastest acceleration ability.

*700 series
These series reach the maximum speed of 177mph (285km/h). These series are the only trains without a smoking room, only when running in links of 8 cars.

Number of Cars

The bullet trains will run in links of either 8 cars or 16 cars. Depending on how many cars there are, your boarding location at the platform will differ. Please make sure to refer to the printed signs on the ground or the panels above your head, as they will indicate your boarding locations.

Overall Contrast

The difference between bullet trains that are valid with the JR pass (Kodama, Hikari, Sakura) and the invalid trains (Nozomi, Mizuho) is that the valid JR pass locomotives tend to have more stopping points, which stops at minor stations when compared with the Nozomi or Mizuho services. Although the extent of its maximum speeds are roughly identical, the time towards the destination differs as one group of trains stop less than the other. 

Here is an example of how many stops these trains make between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka:

NOZOMI: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka
HIKARI: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Gifu-Hashima, Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka
KODAMA: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Odawara, Atami, Mishima, Shinfuji, Shizuoka, Kakegawa, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Mikawa-Anjo, Nagoya, Gifu-Hashima, Maibara, Kyoto, Shin-Osaka

The Shinkansen progress from the 1968s traveling roughly at 200 km/h to todays bullet trains traveling at the maximum speeds of 300 km/h. The "a" in the N700A series stands for advanced which is an improvement version of the N700 series. PHOTO BY FLICKR@PROMoto Club4AG Miwa

The Shinkansen progress from the 1968s traveling roughly at 200 km/h to todays bullet trains traveling at the maximum speeds of 300 km/h. The "a" in the N700A series stands for advanced which is an improvement version of the N700 series. PHOTO BY FLICKR@PROMoto Club4AG Miwa