[Recorded 28 November 2018] For over fifty years the shinkansen has been transporting people across Japan punctually, quickly, comfortably and safely. When it began services on 1 October 1964, in time for the Tōkyō Olympics, it heralded a new age in railway transport and since that time the shinkansen network has continued to grow with many changes since the break up and privatisation of the railways in 1987. Meanwhile the aviation market has also continued to evolve, with ANA becoming Japan’s biggest airline in recent years, the construction and expansion of airports, and the introduction of Low Cost Carriers. But there is more to these trains and planes than merely means of transportation; they also reflect a range of aspects of Japanese society. This paper will look at a range of issues relating to their design and usage that will reveal ways in which they can help us to understand Japanese society.