Education About Asia: Online Archives

Old Man Thunder: Father of the Bullet Train

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By Bill Hosokawa
DENVER: SOGO WAY, 1997
MAPS, INDEX, GLOSSARY. 224 PAGES

Reviewed by George B. Pruden

Its official name is Shinkansen (“New Trunk Line”), but its sleek lines and distinctively shaped front end make it instantly recognizable as the Bullet Train even outside Japan. It began operation on October 1, 1964, just before the Tokyo Olympics opened. Both the train and the Olympics signaled Japan’s remarkable recovery from the devastation of World War II in less than two decades. Yet few people outside Japan are aware of how the Bullet Train came to be built and even less that it was due primarily to the vision and tenacity of one man: Sogo Shinji.