Frances Frye is visiting from Nagano. She says the shinkensen, better known as the bullet train, is fast, clean and comfortable. Noreen Payunk agrees. She especially liked the fact it was warm.
This leg of the bullet train system opened in October of last year, sped on by the coming Olympics. Tokyo is at the center of the $6 billion dollar rail system, with plans to expand. The average round-trip ticket is about $75.
Most of the track is elevated, which provides an awesome view of the countryside. There are no shinkensen crossings with vehicle traffic, but some argue the shinkensen eats up precious space in a packed in country.
It's amazingly quiet and amazingly fast. Topping out at 180-miles-per-hour, the shinkensen can take a toll on the senses. Pat Hicks, another Laurinburg, NC resident, says the tunnels caused her ears to stop up.
Most people say the best thing about the bullet train is the time it saves you. Toyko to Nagano by car takes five hours on a good day. Shinkensen offers 24 round-trips a day, some in just 79 minutes.