If there’s one thing we know, it’s that you should always wash your hands after going to the bathroom. If there’re two things we know, though, the second is that you’ll never get anywhere in life being fixated on the past. So while 2014 was a pretty good year for us, we’re already looking to the year ahead, which is already promising seven cool happenings for Japan in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014
A trip to Japan is never complete without sampling the random chocolate and candy the country has to offer — the ultimate treat is trying all the different Kit Kats! But with so many flavors, it’s always hard to choose which ones to bring back as a souvenir. That’s why we suggest buying the newest one, created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the very first Shinkansen in Japan. (And no, it doesn’t taste like train).
Michelle Lynn Dinh
Oct 9, 2014
For most people, getting to fly first class in an airplane to some far off destination is a fleeting dream, too expensive to actually accomplish. So for those of you wishing you could enjoy free slippers and a dedicated cabin attendant but don’t want to shell out half a year’s salary to do it, look to the first class section of the shinkansen, Japan’s high speed bullet train.
One of our Japanese reporters took a ride on the Hayabusa E3 Shinkansen in “Gran Class” from Tokyo all the way up north to Aomori and documented his luxurious trip. Take a look inside his first class cabin experience!
Sep 26, 2014
The Superconducting Magnetic Levitation Train (SCMaglev) has been in development by Japan Railways for decades and has already broken various world speed records for railed vehicles during test runs. However, it won’t begin operation in Japan until 2027.
That is unless you are one of the lucky few chosen for a series of test runs being conducted in November and December of this year. If you apply by midnight on 30 September you’ll get a chance to ride the train of the future today! What are you waiting for?! Go!
Actually, wait! There’s some useful information you should probably read here first. Then go!
Jun 15, 2014
You could argue that the Shinkansen is the greatest engineering marvel Japan has ever put together. Amazingly fast, the bullet train is also bulletproof in its reliability and punctuality, with almost no delays and not a single accident since the high speed rail service was opened in 1964.
To find a much cooler piece of Japanese technology, you have to go into the world of science fiction and anime robots. Now, some clever designers have put two and two together and created a transforming mecha character based on Japan’s fastest train.
Jun 5, 2014
Ask anyone in Japan if they love the shinkansen, and they’ll probably say yes. Commonly known as the bullet train, it’s convenient, handsomely designed, and the train’s aerodynamic nose is surprisingly an artisanal masterpiece, carefully formed by hand out of numerous metal plates in order to achieve the perfect curves.
Becoming a conductor of one is a typical kindergarten dream, and while a lot of kids grow out of that phase, some emerge as bona fide train fanatics who go by many monikers: tetsu-ota, tetchan, tetsu-kichi (as in “crazy”), you name it. Unfortunately, travel by shinkansen may be fast and luxurious, but it’s generally not cheap—for example, a three-hour one-way ride from Tokyo to Ōsaka can cost around 14,300 yen (US $140).
So what’s this about a 240-yen ticket in Nīgata Prefecture that has train enthusiasts all abuzz? A seasonal train station that’s actually part of a ski resort? A place called “Cowabunga” 125 miles north of Tokyo? Let comedian and self-declared train otaku, Ayako Suzukawa, be your guide today!
May 10, 2014
Two phrases sum up a distinct dichotomy of life in Japan. The first is gambaru, to do one’s best, and it lies at the root of so many of the country’s academic, economic, and scientific achievements.
On the other hand, you’ve also got gaman suru, to put up with things, which is why the same country which produces so many handy gadgets still seems largely fine making do without things such as garbage disposals and clothes dryers.
These two equal but opposite attitudes seem to have collided at Toge Station in Yamagata Prefecture, a distinctly low-tech structure with a connection to one of Japan’s most impressive engineering feats.
Japan first started issuing commemorative coins in 1964 to celebrate the Tokyo Olympic Games two specially designed coins face-valued at 100 yen (US$0.98) and 1,000 yen, respectively. They would be the first in a long string of special coins celebrating events such as an Emperor’s 60th year on the throne and the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition’s 50th anniversary.
October 1 marks the 50th anniversary of the Japan’s famous bullet train lines, and so the Ministry of Finance has seen fit to put out yet another pair of coins. The first one revealed puts the legendary train lines right up there with Japan’s other iconic symbols.
Apr 27, 2014
Japan’s shinkansen, or bullet train in the West, was the world’s first high-speed train running at 200km per hour, and today the Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the world’s most used high-speed rail line. Impressively, even with over 120,000 trains running on the line each year, the average delay time is a mere 36 seconds!
Part of the reason the bullet train system can run as smoothly as it does is thanks to the ‘hospitality group’ working behind the scenes of the sleek, futuristic facades of these famous trains. These cleaning crews are charged with covering every inch of a train’s interior when it arrives at its final stop and preparing it for the next wave of customers–and they have just seven minutes to do it.
Oct 12, 2013
No matter what language you speak, words can sometimes have a way of landing us in trouble. Sometimes we exaggerate for the sake of making a sentence simpler by saying things like “just a sec.” Other times idiomatic phrases like “talk someone’s ear off” can lead to absurd literal translations.
And then there are times when a simple turn of phrase can inadvertently lead to a major incident involving the police and talk of a potential terrorist attack.
As one of Japan’s largest train stations, Tokyo Station is the central hub for many of the JR lines as well as the Shinkansen (bullet train). You can expect some standard grub in most stations, but Tokyo Station has plenty of food places that go beyond the basics. Before setting out on a trip, why not arrive a bit early and enjoy a delicious breakfast before boarding your train? It’s the perfect start to your adventure. Here we introduce five of the best breakfast spots within the station itself.
New Shinkansen to Use Revolutionarily Simple Stations, Cuts Include Ticket Booths, Waiting Rooms, Humans
May 17, 2013
On 13 May, JR Central released station design plans for their upcoming Chuo Shinkansen running from Tokyo to Nagoya and later Osaka. In the words of JR, these stations were designed “not to rely on traditional styles” and “to boldly pursue functionality and efficiency.”
However, when the details emerged to a train station loving public, the reaction was less than enthusiastic with comments along the line of “too bold.”
Mar 16, 2013
JR Central may want to consider banning the use of 10 yen coins from their mighty Shinkansen bullet trains due to the potential hazards they pose.
On 12 March a 400-meter, 715-tonne shinkansen train capable of 300 km/h speeds was pulled off duty because of a single 2.4-centimeter 10 yen coin.
Dec 9, 2012
Japan gets all the cool Kit Kats. Since 2000, Nestlé has introduced over 200 flavors and varieties of the chocolate bar to Japan, from chestnut and espresso to baked corn and soy sauce.
Some flavors come and go with the seasons and others are exclusive to certain regions; at the souvenir shops of my home prefecture Nagano you can find the tasty Shinshu Apple flavor and the questionable Ichimi Ground Red Pepper flavor.
One of our Japanese reporters recently came across a new variety of Kit Kat at Nagoya Station that we thought was pretty cool. While the Kit Kat bars themselves are the regular milk chocolate flavor—which, mind you, differs from country to country—the box art is inspired by the Tokaido Shinkansen line and should be familiar to anyone who has ridden the bullet train in Japan.
The Wii U — Nintendo’s first new home console in six years — may not be available until next Saturday here in Japan, but that didn’t stop our team getting hold of a North American unit and getting stuck into some quality gaming early.
Gamers among you will already know a little about Nintendo’s newest baby, but for the uninitiated, here it is in a nutshell: the Wii U combines the remote-wielding mayhem of everyone’s favourite Nintendo system with a unique new controller featuring a touch screen that can be used with or without a TV set, all topped off with a layer of gorgeous high-definition visuals. The idea is that the player uses the screen to interaxct with their games in a new way or, as we did here, use the gamepad screen in place of a TV set.
Sounds good, right?
But until we got our hands on a Wii U, we never fully appreciated just how much of a game-changer it was. We’ve played Sony PSP and Nintendo DS consoles on the go for years now, but imagine being able to take your actual home games console out on the road. Or how about on a high speed train…
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”1
- No more photo retouches! New makeup for cosplayers claims to create photo-perfect skin2
- Cross-dressing Cosplay Idol Group a Huge Hit in China3
- New video claims one Japanese ISIS hostage killed, authenticity of video under investigation4
- Evangelion couple rings let you tell your sweetheart you love him or her like Shinji loves Kaworu5
- New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time6
- Attack on Titan’s Universal Studios Japan attraction opens7
- Huge six-meter (19.7-foot) anime hug pillow will prove you’re a great big otaku 【Video】8
- Yokohama’s adorable hedgehog dumplings are packed with spikey cuteness and creamy custard9
- Japanese village converted into gorgeous open-air museum makes an easy day-trip escape from Tokyo10
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”1
- Edo era Samurai were pretty gay2
- Netizens hatch adorable baby birds from supermarket eggs, provide evidence3
- New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time4
- Attack on Titan’s Universal Studios Japan attraction opens5
- New plus-sized idol group hopes to broaden the image of beauty in Japan 【Video】6
- Secret backmasked message found hidden in Dragon Ball Z ending song7
- Mystery in Shinjuku as woman plunges to death on visiting restroom8
- Disney Store is all grown up with new branch designed for adult women opening in Tokyo9
- With adult responsibilities looming, Japanese teen lets loose with epic Frozen chalkboard art10
- Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 50 percent by doing absolutely nothing1
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”2
- Cosplay ideals vs. cosplay reality, a.k.a. cool vs. funny 【Photos】3
- Internet ready to shut up and take your money as preorders finally start for Cat Ear Headphones4
- Edo era Samurai were pretty gay5
- Ugly-cute makeup genius feeds off negative troll comments on Twitter6
- “Malaysian girl holding things” is our new favourite Instagram account 【Photos】7
- Teacher draws over students’ doodles to make red pen masterpieces8
- Photos of people lining up outside of the Sapporo Apple Store make us feel positively frozen9
- Netizens hatch adorable baby birds from supermarket eggs, provide evidence10
- “No one sleeps in her class!” Internet goes gaga for gorgeous Chinese science teacher1
- Hayao Miyazaki working on new project, says “I’m going to continue making anime until I die”2
- Self-taught Singaporean artist creates unbelievably realistic art on plywood3
- Buyers’ remorse in China: After a record-breaking day of online shopping, the angry selfies begin4
- 1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours5
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】6
- Japanese high school holds annual contest to decide the prettiest “girl” in school7
- Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 50 percent by doing absolutely nothing8
- Sorry guys! Video of “sexy ice cream girl” in Taipei only delivers on half its milky promises9
- Oysters’ amazing cleaning skills shock Japanese netizens who question their shellfish habit10
- New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time
- Attack on Titan’s Universal Studios Japan attraction opens
- Huge six-meter (19.7-foot) anime hug pillow will prove you’re a great big otaku 【Video】
- Yokohama’s adorable hedgehog dumplings are packed with spikey cuteness and creamy custard
- Japanese village converted into gorgeous open-air museum makes an easy day-trip escape from Tokyo
- Out of this world Valentine’s chocolates are (almost) too gorgeous to eat
- Fly-kicking good?! KFC Malaysia apologises after employees brawl in front of customers
- Here’s how a 2000-year-old Chinese art can make you more productive
- Creating your own custom etched glass is a lot simpler than you think
- Seven Japanese drugstore beauty products loved by women abroad
- Are you smarter than a (Japanese) 5th grader? Take this mind-bending test and find out!
- We try beer with whipped cream on top…because we’re fancy
- Historical Japanese swords turn into hot and battle-hardened Blade Boys in new mobile game