TOKYO: Japan on Saturday launched a new Shinkansen bullet train service linking Tokyo with the ancient city of Kanazawa, which is famed for its huge castle and traditional food and crafts.

Operating at speeds of to 260 kilometres (160 miles) per hour, it cuts travel time to Kanazawa, in the central region facing the Sea of Japan (East Sea), by more than an hour to just two hours and 28 minutes. Japan already operates bullet train lines from northern Aomori through to southwestern Kyushu.

But the coastal Hokuriku region was not connected with the network, and travellers had to switch trains or fly between both sides of the main island of Honshu. With the final section to Kanazawa now completed more than 40 years after it was planned, the coastal region hopes to attract more tourists and businesses.–AFP

Japan launched its first Shinkansen service between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympics.