There's a lot of national pride in the continued development of Shinkansen trains and routes. Not long before I visited, they had opened a Hokuriku route, which has made Kanazawa, a formerly backwater town, a major destination. A route to Hokkaido is in the works. The rides are priced nearly as much as airlines tickets, which means, like airlines, JR has to offer discounts. They come in various forms such as sales of tickets through third party discount ticket brokers, block sales to businesses and travel agencies and rail passes for foreigners. The trains are filled to capacity during the holidays and rush hour, but at off-peak hours there are plenty of empty seats. Regardless of the economics, it's a marvel to travel like the wind on one of these trains. This sheet was issued in 2014.