The Tokaido Shinkansen (東海道新幹線, Tōkaidō Shinkansen) is a shinkansen line that connects Japan's three largest metropolitan areas (Tokyo/Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto) with each other. It is Japan's best used shinkansen line with departures every few minutes.
When opened in 1964, the Tokaido Shinkansen was the world's first high speed railway line. Then trains ran at 210 km/h. Nowadays they reach speeds of 285 km/h. The line is operated by the Central Japan Railway Company, also known as JR Central or JR Tokai. Tokaido is the name of the main road, which connected the former capital of Kyoto with today's capital of Tokyo during the feudal age.
Three train categories operate on the Tokaido Shinkansen:
The Nozomi is the fastest train category along the Tokaido Shinkansen, serving only major stations and requiring about 2.5 hours to reach Shin-Osaka from Tokyo. There are usually four departures per hour in each direction, and even more during peak hours. Many Nozomi trains continue beyond Shin-Osaka along the Sanyo Shinkansen to Hiroshima or Hakata. The Nozomi is one of the few JR trains that require a supplement fee for Japan Rail Pass holders.
The Hikari is the second fastest train category along the Tokaido Shinkansen, serving a few more stations than the Nozomi and requiring about three hours to reach Shin-Osaka from Tokyo. There are two departures per hour in each direction, one operating between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka and the other between Tokyo and Okayama on the Sanyo Shinkansen.
The Kodama is the slowest train category along the Tokaido Shinkansen, stopping at all stations along the way and requiring about four hours to reach Shin-Osaka from Tokyo. There are usually two departures per hour in each direction, one operating between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka and one between Tokyo and Nagoya. Some trains during AM and PM rush hours are fully non-reserved.
Note: For simplification, some rare train compositions and stopping patterns are omitted.