A 200 series on an Asahi service in Tokyo in August 2002
Service typeShinkansen
First service1960 (Semi-express)
1982 (Shinkansen)
Last service30 November 2002
Former operator(s)JNR
JR East
Line(s) usedJoetsu Shinkansen
On-board services
Class(es)Standard + Green
Catering facilitiesTrolley service
Rolling stock200 series, E1 series (train), E4 series
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Electrification25 kV AC overhead
Operating speed275 km/h (170 mph)

The Asahi (あさひ) was a limited-stop train service that operated until November 2002 in Japan on the Joetsu Shinkansen high-speed line between Tokyo and Niigata.[1]


The Asahi shinkansen services ran approximately hourly, with two down services (Asahi 1 and 3) permitted to operate at 275 km/h in the tunnel section between Jōmō-Kōgen and Urasa using specially modified 200 series (F90) sets, completing the journey in 1 hour 40 minutes (compared to the fastest journey time of 1 hour 37 minutes in 2008 for Toki services operating at a maximum speed of 240 km/h).[2][3]

Rolling stock

An E1 series on a Max Asahi service in June 2002
An E1 series on a Max Asahi service in June 2002


The name Asahi, meaning "morning sun" in Japanese, dates from before World War II, when it was used for an express train operated by Japan from Rason in Korea (present-day North Korea) to Hsinking in Manchuria (present-day China).[4]

It was first used in Japan on 1 November 1960 for semi-express (準急, junkyū) services operating between Niigata and Sendai. This service was renamed Benibana from 1 July 1982.[2]

From the start of services on the newly opened Joetsu Shinkansen on 15 November 1982, Asahi was the name used for the limited-stop shinkansen services operating initially between Ōmiya and Niigata, later between Ueno and Niigata, and eventually between Tokyo and Niigata.[2] At the start of Joetsu Shinkansen operations in 1982, 11 Asahi services operated in each direction daily. With the start of shinkansen operations from Ueno on 14 March 1985, the number of Asahi services was increased to 34 in each direction daily. From 10 March 1990, two down services (nicknamed Super Asahi) were timed to operate at a maximum speed of 275 km/h in the tunnel section between Jōmō-Kōgen and Urasa. New E1 series "Max" 12-car sets were introduced on Max Asahi services from 15 July 1994, with two workings in each direction daily between Tokyo and Niigata. The number of Max Asahi services was increased to five in each direction daily from 3 December 1994.[5] E4 series "Max" trains built in 1997 were first assigned to Max Asahi services on 7 May 2001.[6]

The Asahi name was discontinued from 1 December 2002 when the Toki name was re-introduced for all Tokyo to Niigata trains.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b JR新幹線&特急列車ファイル [JR Shinkansen & Limited Express Train File]. Japan: Kotsu Shimbun. 2008. p. 22. ISBN 978-4-330-00608-6.
  2. ^ a b c 列車名鑑1995 [Train Name Directory 1995]. Japan: Railway Journal. August 1995.
  3. ^ JR Timetable, December 2008
  4. ^ Imao, Keisuke; Hara, Takeshi (November 2009). 日本鉄道旅行地図帳 歴史編成 朝鮮・台湾 [Japanese Railway Travel Atlas Historical Makeup – Korea and Taiwan] (in Japanese). Japan: Shinchosha. p. 3. ISBN 978-4-10-790032-6.
  5. ^ JR特急10年の歩み [10 Years of JR Limited Express Trains] (in Japanese). Japan: Kousai Shuppansha. May 1997. ISBN 4-330-45697-4.
  6. ^ Yamanouchi, Shūichirō (2002). 東北・上越新幹線 [Tohoku & Joetsu Shinkansen]. Tokyo, Japan: JTB Can Books. ISBN 4-533-04513-8.