Hideo Shima, the main designer of the D51 "Degoichi" steam locomotive, displayed his expertise as JNR's chief engineer.
Shima and his father shared the dream of developing a high-speed railway.
His father, Yasujiro, was also one of the best railway engineers in the nation. Yasujiro played a leading role in the Railways Ministry's deliberations on its unrealized bullet-train concept, calling for the development of trains with speeds of up to 200 kph. Hideo, his eldest son, was designing train cars for the ministry at the time.
When Hideo later supervised Shinkansen development, he stressed using existing technologies with an eye on safety, comfort and maintainability, rather than just technical advances. A 250-kph railway would have been possible, but he saw that as unreasonable.
"No brand-new technologies were used for the Shinkansen."
"We took no risks in applying technologies. [The Shinkansen] was the result of teamwork."
Shima's words in later life reflect the Shinkansen philosophy that enabled the bullet trains' legendary safety record, with not a single passenger death over the past 50 years.
Shima also left JNR in 1963 before the start of Shinkansen service, following Sogo, who had entrusted him with developing the system.
Sources: Feb. 11, 2012, Yomiuri Shimbun morning edition, Sept. 6, 1999, Yomiuri Shimbun morning edition, and Nov. 3, 1971, Yomiuri Shimbun morning edition