Sayonara, Doctor Yellow: Shinkansen Test Train Headed for Retirement

Unseen Japan
3 min readJun 14, 2024

It’s said that “seeing it brings happiness.” But no more: Japan’s famous “Doctor Yellow” diagnostic Shinkansen train is entering retirement.

Picture: Hokuto / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

By Jay Allen

It’s been a staple of train fans in Japan for years. However, its time has come to head off towards the sunset (at very high speed). Here’s why Doctor Yellow, the famous Shinkansen test train, is no longer needed.

“Seeing it brings happiness”

Doctor Yellow
Picture: Nozomi / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

A famously recognizable site in Japan, Doctor Yellow is the test train used on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines by both Japan Railways Tokai and Japan Railways West. The train bears equipment that ensures there’s no warping in the tracks and no deficiencies on the routes used by the company’s high-speed “bullet train” cars.

Doctor Yellow runs about once every 10 days. Additionally, its run schedule isn’t officially posted, which makes a sighting rare. Train enthusiasts and Shinkansen users often post sightings of the car to social media. Because seeing it is such a rarity, it’s said that “seeing Doctor Yellow brings happiness” (見ると幸せが訪れる; miru to