JR Tôkai (overview)

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Overview over the areas covered by the JR companies (click to enlarge)

JR Tôkai is also known as JR Central. The name Tôkai ("Eastern Sea") refers as a rule to the 4 prefectures of Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie and Gifu, though Mie prefecture is also counted as belonging to the Kinki region. Tôkai thus is the Pacific coast region of central Japan and the region around Ise Bay, dominated by the city of Nagoya. The former Tôkai Road (Tôkai-dô) was Japan's most important inter-regional route, linking Tôkyô (until 1869 known as Edo) with Western Japan, either Ise or Kyôto; the Tôkai-dô is particularly well-known in the West thanks to the series of woodcut prints (1833/34) by the artist Hiroshige.

The "heart" of JR Tôkai is the Tôkaidô Shinkansen, the world's busiest high speed railway, carrying nearly half a million passengers per day! It is 515, 4 km long and links Japan's largest cities, Tôkyô – Nagoya – Kyôto and Ôsaka. In the east the Tôkaidô Shinkansen runs into the territory of JR East as far as Tôkyô, in the west into that of JR West as far as Shin Ôsaka.

JR Tôkai's 1067 mm gauge lines include the Tôkaidô main line between Atami in the east and Maibara in the west, passing through the Tôkaidô's main coastal cities Mishima, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Nagoya and (inland) Gifu. In addition JR Tôkai operates the local services around Ise Bay, basically all starting at Nagoya. JR Tôkai also has a few spectacular lines into Japan's central mountain range, namely the Takayama Honsen towards Toyama and the Japan Sea, the Chûô Honsen (western section) into the Matsumoto region (with express trains continuing to Nagano), the Iida-sen also into the Matsumoto region, the Minobu-sen, forming a link with JR East's Chûô-sen at Kôfu, and the Gotemba-sen, running up almost to the foot of Mount Fuji; direct services by Odakyû trains from the Tôkyô Metro and along the main line of the Odakyû Company join the Gotemba-sen not far from Odawara. To the west of Ise Bay JR Tôkai's operations include the main line around the Kii Peninsula (Kisei Honsen) down as far as Shingû.