shinkansen

Japan’s real and anime world technological icons combine with this Shinkansen transforming robot

Japan’s real and anime world technological icons combine with this Shinkansen transforming robot

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.

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$2.34!? Cheapest bullet-train ride in Japan lasts 3 minutes, but memories are forever【Photos】

$2.34!? Cheapest bullet-train ride in Japan lasts 3 minutes, but memories are forever【Photos】

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!

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It may look like a tool shed, but one of Japan’s fastest trains passes through this station

It may look like a tool shed, but one of Japan’s fastest trains passes through this station

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.

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Silver 1,000 yen coin to be issued for Shinkansen’s 50th anniversary

Silver 1,000 yen coin to be issued for Shinkansen’s 50th anniversary

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.

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Race against the clock: Shinkansen staff have just 7 minutes to get bullet train ready to ride

Race against the clock: Shinkansen staff have just 7 minutes to get bullet train ready to ride

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.

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Shinkansen stopped and searched by police because of passenger who really had to pee

Shinkansen stopped and searched by police because of passenger who really had to pee

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.

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Tokyo Station’s top 5 breakfast spots

Tokyo Station’s top 5 breakfast spots

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.

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New Shinkansen to Use Revolutionarily Simple Stations, Cuts Include Ticket Booths, Waiting Rooms, Humans

New Shinkansen to Use Revolutionarily Simple Stations, Cuts Include Ticket Booths, Waiting Rooms, Humans

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.”

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10 Yen Coin Takes Out Entire Shinkansen Train, Passengers Evacuated and Delayed

10 Yen Coin Takes Out Entire Shinkansen Train, Passengers Evacuated and Delayed

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.

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High-Speed Chocolate: A Look at the New Shinkansen Kit Kat and Other Cool Japanese Kit Kat Packages

High-Speed Chocolate: A Look at the New Shinkansen Kit Kat and Other Cool Japanese Kit Kat Packages

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 countrythe box art is inspired by the Tokaido Shinkansen line and should be familiar to anyone who has ridden the bullet train in Japan.

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We Take Our New Wii U for a Ride on a Bullet Train, Works Like a Charm

We Take Our New Wii U for a Ride on a Bullet Train, Works Like a Charm

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…

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