The rapid development of high-speed rail (HSR) is influencing regional development, regional structure, commuting, and regional integration. East Asia is the region with the world’s first and largest current operating and planned HSR network. In this paper, we examine the evolutionary mechanism and impacts on the transport circle and accessibility of HSR in East Asia. The results indicate that the HSR network first follows a “core-core” model and then forms a corridor in Japan, South Korea, and China Taiwan, but then forms a complete network in China Mainland. The current operating HSR lines are mostly distributed in regions with developed economies and dense populations, and more than half of the population and GDP in China can be served by HSR within 1 hour’s travel time. The planned HSR network will expand to the western region of China and Japan and the southern region of South Korea. The development of the current operating and planned HSR network considerably enlarges the transport circle of core cities, especially cities along trunk HSR lines. This 1 h transport circle of core cities has formed continuous regions in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, Tokyo, Seoul, and along trunk HSR lines. The HSR network will bring about substantial improvement in accessiblity, but also increase the inequality of nodal accessibility in China Mainland. Spatially, the spatial patterns of the weighted shortest travel time of cities in China Mainland, Japan, and South Korea all present the “core-peripheral structure”, taking Zhengzhou, Tokyo, and Seoul, respectively, as core cities, and cities located along the trunk HSR lines gain large improvement in accessibility.