The Sanyo Shinkansen (山陽新幹線, Sanyō Shinkansen) is a shinkansen line that connects Osaka (Shin-Osaka Station) with Fukuoka (Hakata Station) on the island of Kyushu. It was the second shinkansen line to be built and was completed in 1975. Today trains reach speeds of up to 300 km/h.
The Sanyo Shinkansen is operated by the West Japan Railway Company, commonly known as JR West. Some trains along the Sanyo Shinkansen provide through service to the Tokaido Shinkansen to/from Tokyo and to the Kyushu Shinkansen to/from Kagoshima.
Five train categories operate on the Sanyo Shinkansen:
The Nozomi serves only major stations along the Sanyo Shinkansen, and typically requires 2.5 hours to reach Hakata from Shin-Osaka. There are usually three departures per hour (two between Shin-Osaka and Hakata and one between Shin-Osaka and Hiroshima) and more during peak hours. Most Nozomi trains provide through service to the Tokaido Shinkansen to/from Tokyo.
Together with the Mizuho, the Nozomi is the only shinkansen train that cannot be used with the Japan Rail Pass. However, it is covered by the JR Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and JR Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass.
One 16-car Hikari train from Tokyo continues along the Sanyo Shinkansen as far as Okayama each hour, serving all stations between Shin-Osaka and Okayama. The 8-car Hikari Rail Star trains, which used to run between Shin-Osaka and Hakata, have been almost completely replaced by Sakura trains (see below) as of March 2012.
The Kodama is the slowest train category along the Sanyo Shinkansen, stopping at all stations along the way and requiring almost five hours to reach Hakata from Shin-Osaka. Train sets of eight cars are employed as Kodama trains along the Sanyo Shinkansen. They do not carry Green Cars.
The Mizuho is the fastest train category along the Sanyo Shinkansen and provides through service to the Kyushu Shinkansen to/from Kagoshima. However, currently there are only about half a dozen round trips per day, mainly in the mornings and evenings. Besides the Nozomi, the Mizuho is the only shinkansen train that cannot be used with the Japan Rail Pass. However, it is covered by the JR Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and JR Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass.
Like the Mizuho, the Sakura operates between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo Station on the Kyushu Shinkansen, but stops at a few more stations than the Mizuho. Green car seats make up only half of car number 6, while reserved seating comes in rows of 2x2 seats that are almost as comfortable as the Green Car seats. Non-reserved seats come in rows of 3x2 seats.
Note: For simplification, some rare train compositions and stopping patterns are omitted.