Authorities investigate Akita line bullet train derailment | The Japan Times
I firmly believe the shinkansen to be the safest way to travel in the world. This doesn't happen often, and when it does, it seems to result from extraordinary circumstances. The only other one I can remember during my lifetime here in Japan-- all 8 or so years of it-- happened during an earthquake. This one was more than likely caused by that heavy snowfall.
Fortunately, no one was hurt. Which is further testimony to the safety of these fast-movers.
One of my dreams is to take a shinkansen along the Tokaido line from point A to the farthest point B. I don't know where the thing starts or where to find its terminus. I just know I want to go from one to the other and see as much of Japan as I can passing by my window. The only problem is, the shinkansen tends to lull me to sleep so I might miss a great deal of scenery.
And I'm no the only one. Back when I was first here teaching English, a couple of my co-workers tried to take the shinkansen back from a sightseeing trip of their own. They fell asleep somewhere after Osaka and woke up at Tokyo Terminal having passed their stop, the little town where we all lived and worked. Since it was too late to catch another shinkansen back, they had to walk around all night before bedding down in a park for another nap. They caught the first shinkansen back in the morning and arrived in time for work a little ragged but otherwise fine, with an amusing little tale. Which I have just shared with you.
Since then, I've forced myself to stay awake even as the gently rocking train and its smooth gliding sounds act as lullabies to my weary mind and body. My eyelids grow heavy and I feel myself drifting away. A sharp slap to the face and I'm back in my seat on the shinkansen wishing I didn't have to be anywhere in particular at any particular time and I could just give into the inviting dreamland...
In short, drink more Coke or coffee before you ride the shinkansen.