I visited Yamanashi, to take the SCMaglev for a test run, unaware of the demand for tickets to get on board. With the train only open to the public roughly 40 days out of the year, rail fanatics consider the ride a golden ticket of sorts. The Central Japan Railway Company has been conducting tests along the same 40 kilometer track for the past 20 years, but interest has skyrocketed, since the SCMaglev reached speeds of 375 miles per hour in 2015, setting a world record.
The limited slots are determined by a nationwide lottery. The unlucky ones, are relegated to the overlook and the Yamanashi Prefectural Maglev Exhibition Center, where every SCMaglev sighting is heralded on a public speaker system,
The preboarding process itself is an event, with music blaring, and passengers lining up for photos with a maglev cut-out.
On board, the SCMaglev looks and feels like any other high-speed rail. That is, until the train starts to reach speeds of 310 mph. The floor starts to vibrate. The cabin sways slightly.
By the time the wheels retract, lifting the train off the tracks, it feels like a plane taking off.
"There really isn't much of a view, but you can just feel how fast it's going," said Takashi Yoshiba, who brought his 4-year-old son Ryouma and his 1-year-old son Keima for the ride. "When we reached speeds of 500 kmph, you could hear the passengers cheering."
Once complete, the train will connect the 215 mile stretch between Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 minutes, slashing the current travel time by more than half. Engineers don't expect the project to be completed for another decade, but with the country's population rapidly aging, the JRC already has its eyes set on exporting the technology to the U.S.
"If they adopt this system, then the volume that the manufacturer produces will be bigger, and hopefully they can reduce the cost and that might affect the profit," Seki said.
Specifically, JRC is eyeing the Northeast Corridor — the 220 mile stretch between New York and Washington.
It's a route that currently takes nearly three hours on Amtrak's Acela Line. The SCMaglev promises to slash it to just one.
Wayne Rogers, chairman and CEO of The Northeast Maglev (TNEM), the private company promoting high speed rail, says any maglev system would require brand new infrastructure, separate from the existing tracks.