Work on the Tōhoku Shinkansen connecting Tokyo with the north of Honshū commenced in November 1971, and the line opened in stages from June 1982. The line reached Aomori in December 2010. 

An extension passing through the Seikan Tunnel should reach Shin-Hakodate, on Hokkaidō in March 2016 and Sapporo by 2035.

Branch lines of the Tōhoku Shinkansen, the Yamagata Shinkansen (Fukushima – Shinjō) and Akita Shinkansen (Morioka – Akita) run on the Tohoku line from Tokyo, then branch onto lines where the original narrow gauge has been upgraded. 

Since these are not purpose built Shinkansen lines, the maximum speed is limited to130 km/h, but travel time is reduced since passengers no longer need to change trains at Fukushima and Morioka.

Planning for the Jōetsu Shinkansen connecting Tokyo and Niigata was initiated in 1971 by Niigata-born Prime Minister Tanaka, and services began on 15 November 1982, branching off the Tōhoku Shinkansen at Ōmiya.

Work on the Nagano Shinkansen was finished in time for the Winter Olympics in 1998. The line branches off the Jōetsu and Tōhoku lines at Takasaki and forms the first section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, with an extension from Nagano to Kanazawa scheduled to open in March 2015. 

From there, the line should proceed on to Tsuruga and will eventually loop back to Osaka.

Work on the Chūō Shinkansen, a maglev (magnetic levitation) line from Tokyo to Osaka via Nagoya was due to commence in 2014, with the line following the shortest route through (as in under) the Japanese Alps from Shinagawa to Nagoya with 86% of the 286 km route underground. 

© Ian Hughes 2017