For convenience, frequency, punctuality and passenger comfort Shinkansen services are hard to beat. Trains depart with split second punctuality; carriage interiors are spacious; seats usually face forward but can be turned 180 degrees to create a group of seats facing each other. 

Most trains have both non-reserved seats and reserved seats in two classes, but reservations are required for Hayabusa, Hayate and Komachi.

Regular seats are laid out in threes on either side of an aisle and offer generous legroom. 

The equivalent of airline business class on aeroplanes comes in Green Cars, with two seats on either side of the passageway, footrests, reading lights, electrical outlets for both seats and a seat warmer. 

The newest trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen offer the equivalent of first class with single seats and additional amenities.

Trains have overhead shelves that handle airline carry-on baggage, and there is space for two or three suitcases behind the last row of seats in each carriage on a first in best-dressed basis. 

There's probably enough room to fit a suitcase into the space in front of your seat, though it's not the most comfortable solution.

For travellers who live outside Japan discounts offered by the Japan Rail Pass make Shinkansen travel an extremely cost effective means of travel on all services except Nozomi and Mizuho, but you can only access regular seats.

Most trains have food carts with a selection of snacks, drinks and boxed bento meals. 

WiFi is available on some trains between Tokyo and ShinOsaka but requires a subscription or a one-day pass that has to be purchased before you board the train.

© Ian Hughes 2017