The key railway artery in Japan, the Shinkansen or "bullet train" line between Tokyo and Osaka, will introduce Wi-Fi by March 2009, Japan Railways announced.
These trains are already incredibly comfortable, primarily because they are clean and quiet, and they usually deliver you to a key central location in each city. Another perk is the on-platform food vendors who sell totally passable box lunches, sometimes including sushi, without much of a mark-up.
The main drawback to these trains is they're not cheap. And while the JR announcement (in Japanese) doesn't mention whether there will be a charge, I'm guessing they'd brag if it were free, and free Wi-Fi is pretty rare in Japan, at least compared to Chinese and U.S. cities, where coffee shops rarely have the infrastructure for paid connections.
The service is to offer up to 2 megabit connections, and will be built in cooperation with NTT, Japan's massive, partially government-owned telecom.
I can't wait to be in Japan and rich enough to tick off the minutes at high speeds online. Until then, riders will have to search for ambient signals at station stops to send and receive e-mails, something I've found works pretty well on downtown Tokyo JR trains, but can be much harder on the Shinkansen.
Via Ajiajin, and thanks Hose.