trains

Just how fast is Japan’s new maglev train? See for yourself【Video】

It may not be due to begin ferrying passengers between Tokyo and Osaka for another 10+ years yet, but Japan’s magnetic levitation (maglev) train is already zipping up and down a special section of test track in Yamanashi Prefecture, and it’s nothing short of spectacular.

Check out our video of this thing in motion – oh, and try not to blink because you really might miss it.

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Nine tips for surviving Japan’s hellishly crowded trains

If you have ever ridden a train during rush hour in Japan, you know it takes a certain amount of fortitude to survive it. If you are just visiting the country, sometimes you can avoid those super stuffed trains, buy if you live or spend an extended length of time in any big city in Japan you just can’t avoid taking a packed train. Whether it’s rush hour in the morning, rush hour at night, or the last few trains home, you will often find yourself in a position where you have to give up the luxury of personal space in exchange for a ride home.

It takes a certain amount of skill to stay upright as well as a bit of creative ingenuity to pass the time and avoid feeling claustrophobic in order to survive the crowded train. We’ve collated nine of the best tips to help you get through a hell-like train ride.

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Group of teenage Thai actors placed under house arrest for dancing on Japanese train 【Video】

Anyone who has ridden the trains in Japan has probably had a very different experience from riding them in their home country. The trains I ride here in Boston are loud, not the cleanest, and full of people talking and listening to music as if there’s not a hundred others around them. In Japan though, that doesn’t fly. Everyone is motionless, remains quiet, and mostly respectful of others.

One group of Thai teenage actors found that out the hard way. They filmed themselves doing the unspeakable act of dancing while on a train in Japan, and quickly found themselves on the receiving end of some harsh punishment: six months of house arrest and banned for six months from all forms of social networking sites.

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A simple change to train station platforms could save hundreds of lives

With cherry blossom season well underway, Japan is currently all about the hanami parties. These usually consist of sitting under the beautiful cherry blossoms and drinking with a bunch with friends or coworkers. With well-enforced policies against drunk driving, trains and subways are the optimal way of getting home after a day spent enjoying the pink flowers and fresh energies of spring. So it’s no surprise to see that a rise in alcohol consumption also increases the number of people falling onto the tracks.

JR West, the main railway company for the Kansai area, carried out a two-year study to find the best way to prevent these moments of imbalance, and the answer may be as simple as a 90-degree turn in a different direction.

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Morioka Station’s sweet message to recent high school graduates causes passersby to tear up

As people in different parts of the world change their calendars to April at this very moment, the class of recently graduated Japanese high school students are getting ready to embark on their next journeys in life. For many of them, this time marks a major turning point as they move away from home and head to even bigger cities for college or careers.

The recent graduates in at least one Japanese city can take comfort in knowing that their community will be waiting patiently for their return home at vacation. The staff at Morioka Station in Iwate Prefecture recently left a heartfelt message inside the station wishing their local high school graduates the best of luck as they set out in life, and it seems that more than one passerby has teared up at the sight of it. 

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“We Finns just like it simple”: Net users can’t get enough of Helsinki Metro map

Finland: land of the Moomins, Santa Claus Village, and exceedingly simple metro lines.  

A series of maps comparing the municipal subway layouts in major cities around the world has been tickling some net users who just can’t get enough of Helsinki’s metro design. Some are calling it proof that Finns like to keep things simple–and you’ve got to admit, when you see the image stacked up next to a map of Tokyo’s metro system, they may have a point!

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Fukui Station, the upcoming Shinkansen station, is also home to roaring dinosaurs!

The steady expansion of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train lines is a project welcomed by everyone from train fans to average citizens who just wants to get around the country as easily as possible. Last Friday saw the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, the line connecting Tokyo with the Hokuriku region. The newest train stations are located in Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures, but all the attention on-line is actually focused on Fukui Station!

Though the Shinkansen line won’t actually make it to Fukui Prefecture until 2025, people still love the station, which currently serves a variety of JR and Echizen lines, thanks to its Jurassic Park-like scenery. That’s right, Fukui Station is overrun by dinosaurs!

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Crazy station’s 290 steps from gate to platform make it the deepest and spookiest in Niigata

Japan is in the middle of a luxury train boom, but that doesn’t mean every station in the country is a palace of creature comforts. In the most rural areas, the station is often little more than an unstaffed slab of concrete poured next to the rails.

Things are just a bit more infrastructure-intensive at Tsutsuishi Station, however. That’s because while its above-ground facilities may not be much to look at, the platform is located at the bottom of a stairwell that descends 40 meters (131 feet) into the earth.

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Osaka railway creates superhero to attract foreign tourists, makes name unintelligible to them

A new superhero has arrived to save the people of Osaka from evildoers. This is great because just the other day some savage left an empty can in my bicycle’s basket while I parked it.

Unfortunately for me, his beat is just on the Rapi:t express train running between downtown’s Namba Station and Kansai International Airport. But if you happen to find trouble on the way to or from KIX there’s only one name to call out for help: Rapi…Ra…Rapee-itl-dee-yer!!?

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Italian man kisses woman on train in Wakayama “as a greeting,” gets arrested instead of her number

Assuming it’s done in a gentlemanly manner, I don’t see anything wrong with a man who spots an attractive woman politely introducing himself. Good manners of course dictate that if she appears bothered or uninterested he should abort with all haste. As long as the initial overture is made in a respectful manner, though, I don’t see the harm in taking a shot, low-percentage as it may be, to see if the woman is receptive to a little conversation.

In my time in Japan I’ve even seen a few instances of men and women who just met on the train chatting happily with each other, then exchanging phone numbers or email addresses before one gets off. Still, even I draw the line somewhere, and it’s at a point well before suddenly planting your lips on a woman you’ve never spoken to, as one man recently did while riding the rails in Wakayama Prefecture.

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Warranted anger or overreaction? Tokyo train driver snaps at train enthusiast for taking a picture

The word otaku in Japanese isn’t just limited in use to fans of anime and manga. It can be used to refer to fans or enthusiasts of a number of things, and with the abundance of trains weaving throughout the country, it’s not surprising that Japan has a fair number of “tetsudou otaku,” or train enthusiasts. Within that group there are also “toritetsu,” who enjoy taking pictures of trains.

Recently, a video surfaced on YouTube which shows a Tokyo Metro train driver scolding one toritetsu for taking a flash photo of the train, and while most Japanese netizens seem to be in support of the driver, there are some of the opinion that the driver could’ve handled the situation differently.

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We try one ekiben shop’s three most popular bento boxes- out of a selection of 170 kinds

On March 14, the new extension of the Nagano Shinkansen line will open, connecting Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures to Tokyo. This is exciting news for Chubu region locals and Tokyoites alike, as the trip from the northern central prefectures to Tokyo will take a mere 2.5 hours, so everyone is preparing for some fun day trips!

What’s the best part of Shinkansen day trips (other than effortlessly speeding through beautiful Japanese countryside)? Ekiben! Ekiben are lunch boxes sold in train stations, specifically to be taken on long train rides. One of our Tokyo-based writers visited a famous ekiben shop, which sells over 170 bento box options and ate the top three kinds. Do they deserve their rankings at the top?

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Here’s what Kyoto’s subway looks like plastered with anime girls

As we recently reported, the bigwigs at the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau got together a while back and had a little brainstorming session regarding how to convince more people to use the subway. So what did they come up with?

Super-kawaii moe anime girls plastered all over the place! All part of the “Let’s ride the subway” advertising campaign, which hopes to bring in an extra 50,000 passengers a day. So how are people reacting to the sudden plethora of brightly colored cuteness all over their train platforms and carriages?

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Cute anime railway girls keep passengers company on Tokyo Skytree train

Japan is no stranger to weird and wonderful product collaborations between companies. We’ve seen Mos burger x Mister Donut creations, a Hello Kitty invasion of The Very Hungry Caterpillar books and even Sailor Moon girls teeing up with sanitary pads.

So when the ten-year anniversary of the Tetsudou Musume (Railway Girls) anime rolled around this year, their new collaboration could have taken them anywhere. Thankfully, the girls have gone the more conventional route – by tying up with an actual train and riding together with you in 2-D form inside the carriages.

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High-speed rail in China just got moe-fied

Taiwan has their cute rail mascot, and now China’s getting in on the act, too. Originally doujinshi characters, these anthropomorphised moe anime versions of high-speed trains have now made their debut at an official rail event. Read on to see the cosplaying cuties and their 2-D counterparts.

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Things left behind on Japanese trains: A sad photographic collection to make you wonder

From the super-efficient bullet train cleaning team that whizzes in and out in a seven-minute turnaround, to stories of entertainingly brilliant station customer service, there are heaps of things to love about Japan’s rail system, which ranks amongst the cleanest and most punctual in the world.

One other cool thing about Japanese trains – or perhaps about Japanese society in general – is that if you lose something, you stand a pretty good chance of getting it back again. Even valuable items like smartphones or wallets often end up handed in to lost property and returned to their original owner.

Today, though, we bring you a collection of some of the more unusual items left on trains around Japan – things that made other commuters go “Huh? Why’d someone have that on the train anyway?”

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Seven cool things set to happen in Japan during 2015

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.

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Schoolboy offers elderly man seat on train, gets publicly berated for doing just that

Japanese people have a reputation for being polite and well-mannered, so the frequent sight of so many people, rather than giving up their seat as they should, suddenly becoming engrossed in their smartphones or pretending to sleep when a pregnant woman or elderly person boards always comes as a bit of a surprise to me.

Of course, there are still plenty of kind and courteous people who offer up their seat without fail. On such occasions, the elderly passenger will often decline the offer, either because they will be getting off in a couple stops, or because despite appearances they still feel young and genki enough to stand for the journey. One elderly man in particular, though, took offense at a young boy who kindly offered up his seat recently.

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New app allows commuters to share info on train delays through Twitter

While trains in Japan are revered for their reliability and punctuality, sometimes the inevitable happens, and services become delayed. If you are one of the hundreds of thousands in Japan who depend on the trains to get you to and from work each day, it can really put a damper on things to arrive at the station and find your platform crowded with other commuters, expecting a long wait.

If you had known about the delay beforehand, you could’ve planned a different route, or if that’s not an option, you could have stopped somewhere for some coffee to kill the time. It would be great if there was an app for that, you think.

Well, lucky for you there is!

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Dedicated railroad otaku creates the digital swiss army knife of Tokyo Metro maps

This past year the Tokyo Metro has been brought to life in many different ways, ranging from a spaghetti-alien map to, well, a 3-D spaghetti-alien map. But it’s the latest re-imagining of the Tokyo Metro in the highly versatile SVG format that’s currently causing a lot of commotion online.

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