The unveiling of the latest shinkansen, or bullet train, model in Tokyo this month brought crowds of travelers and railway fans eager to get a look at the sleek design and bright red paint job. The new E6 Series, also known as the Super Komachi, is one of Japan’s fastest commercial trains with a speed just under 200 miles per hour, and with service running towards the country’s north, operator JR East hopes it will help restore travel to the earthquake and tsunami-recovering regions.
Extra security guards have been needed in order to keep the crowds of eager train travelers a safe distance from the high-speed locomotive. Running on the Akita Shinkansen Line, the Super Komachi has been traveling at speeds of 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph), but will soon start running at its top speed of 320 kph (198.8 mph), matching the world record with trains in France. Among the technological advancements are a nose that measures an incredible 12.8 meters (42 feet) long, which helps to reduce noise and lower the aerodynamic pressure when entering tunnels at high speeds. The seven-car E6 Series also features an active suspension system that cuts cabin vibration, allowing passengers to enjoy their drinks with ease while moving at some of the fastest speeds in Japan.
The bullet train’s name and color are also honorary nods to the North, with the bright red color symbolic of masks of namahage ogres, important creatures in Akita Prefecture folklore and New Year’s costumes. The name Komachi is also taken from the beautiful, legendary poetess Ono no Komachi, said to have been born in Akita roughly 1,200 years ago. The Super Komachi will reduce the existing travel time between Tokyo and Morioka, Iwate Prefecture by as much as 15 minutes. JR East hopes the new train will encourage more people to make visits to the Tohoku, or northeast, region, still recovering from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.