The people who run Japan's Shinkansen railway service are looking to raise the bar. Their bullet train service has set the pace in speed and safety for more than 50 years. And they now aim to provide passengers an even better experience while on board.
Just two months to go until these attendants start serving customers.
The instructor, Sonoko Takahashi, is from Kanazawa, the final stop on the new Hokuriku shinkansen line. She used to work as a flight attendant on first-class cabins of international flights. She now trains shinkansen attendants, and has taught over 100 so far. She says she wants them to aim for a high level of service.
The new line will allow passengers to travel from Tokyo to Kanazawa in 2 and a half hours. The trains have luxurious "Granclass" cars.
That's where the attendants will be working. A one-way Granclass ticket will cost about 230 dollars. Food and drinks are included in the price, but it's still almost twice as much as an ordinary ticket.
These luxurious cars were first introduced four years ago on another bullet train line. The attendants welcome the passengers on board, serve them food and provide other amenities. Takahashi has headed the service in Granclass from the start.
She drew up a manual covering everything from fares and timetables to how to respond in the event of an accident. She has rewritten it numerous times, and wonders if it will ever be finished. The training will continue until the new shinkansen goes into service in March.
There's one thing that Takahashi makes sure her students remember. It's that for the best possible service, the most important thing to do is smile and provide traditional Japanese hospitality.
She says her only goal is for Granclass passengers to have a great experience.
It looks like travelers on the Hokuriku shinkansen can look forward to not just speed and reliability -- but a luxurious journey filled with smiles.