At that time, all those who applied to be Shinkansen drivers were full of curiosity because driving the bullet train meant experiencing a different world. My wife urged me not to volunteer for the mission out of fear that I might die in an accident while driving a totally unknown train.
JNR held about a week of aptitude tests to select Shinkansen drivers, during which I did various things.
For example, we were given colored pencils to draw a house on paper. That was meant to test how much we could draw by doing our best in a limited time while an examiner held a stopwatch.
You weren't considered prime Shinkansen driver material if you colored a roof brown, took a different-colored pencil and then used the brown pencil again. This was regarded as a sign of poor planning, because we had limited time to draw.
We took these aptitude tests in the early days of Shinkansen driver development. I suppose JNR didn't yet know what it should do. I heard that the company did not assign such tests in later years.
JNR also checked how prospective drivers reacted to stress by using a device similar to a lie detector while giving them impossible tasks.
We were surprised by an alarm bell and a red light. You didn't lose many points if the needle of the polygraph moved at that moment. However, you were deemed unqualified as a Shinkansen driver if the needle continued swinging even after that. In other words, those who lingered over their failure were judged undesirable as Shinkansen drivers. JNR checked all those factors thoroughly.
We couldn't do trial runs on the entire Tokaido Shinkansen line until September. I was in charge of the first test drive from Tokyo to Osaka. The Shinkansen was only allowed to run at 70 kph on the entire line, so the trip took more than 11 hours.
This was also because we could not make smooth stops at stations. In Nagoya, I first stopped near Nagoya Stadium [before the station] and spoke with the station by phone. I then entered the station but barely stopped within it.
I experienced various test runs about a year before the Shinkansen went into service. However, many Shinkansen drivers in the early days were expert drivers of trains on conventional railway lines—which meant that JNR thought it was all the same driving electric trains regardless of whether they were for Shinkansen or conventional lines. I suppose the inauguration of Shinkansen service was very challenging for us.