The E4 Series Shinkansen were the second series of completely bi-level Shinkansen high-speed trainsets to be built in Japan (the other being the E1 Series; the 100 Series also featured two bi-level cars per trainset in some configurations). They operate on the Tōhoku, Jōetsu Shinkansen and Hokuriku Shinkansen. E4 trains feature double-decker cars to accommodate additional commuter traffic around Tokyo and other urban areas. They are often coupled to 400 Series trains on the Tōhoku Shinkansen at Fukushima.
Two eight-car sets can be coupled together for extra capacity: the sixteen-car E4 trainset is the highest-capacity high speed rail trainset in the world, carrying a total of 1,634 passengers.
26 units were built between 1997 and 2003. As with the earlier E1 series trains, maximum speed is 240 km/h.
In order to minimize trackside noise, large sections of the Tōhoku and Jōetsu Shinkansen track are built in elevated concrete viaducts. The sides of the viaduct generally obstruct the view of passengers sitting in the lower floors of bi-level shinkansen.