trains

Policewoman’s posterior produces poetic justice as she arrests man she says groped her on train

Police in Hyogo Prefecture are reporting the arrest of a man suspected of being a chikan, Japan’s embarrassing subclass of perverts that grope unsuspecting women on crowded trains. The suspect’s capture wasn’t the result of a sophisticated sting or surveillance operation, though. As a matter of fact, the arresting officer didn’t even have to chase the man down, as the police claim he was caught red, and butt, handed when he grabbed the behind of a fellow passenger who’s also a policewoman.

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Taiwanese subway’s anime mascot wants you to mind your manners, watch out for the Hamburglar

While Japan can boast the most anime girl mascots, both in total and on a per capita basis, the country doesn’t have a monopoly on cute 2-D spokeswomen. Among other neighbors in Asia, Taiwan has shown it’s willing to take a page from Japanese otaku imagery now and again.

Last winter, for instance, McDonald’s workers at one branch in Taiwan dressed up in maid outfits. And if you’re choosing fast food because there’s someplace you’ve got to be, your anime preferences will still be catered to if you choose to get there with the Kaohsiung City subway and its new, doe-eyed, miniskirted mascot.

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Creepy or cute? Feel the Panda Train’s intense gaze before sightseeing in resort town Shirahama

Though the “Panda Train” that runs between Kyōto and the beach resort town of Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture has been around for a few years, Japanese netizens recently have been making quite the hubbub over photos of its panda seats. Online reactions range from “Kawaiiii!” to “It looks like it’ll hug me to death!”, but most agree that they’re simply confused by the presence of polyurethane pandas on a train heading to a former honeymoon Mecca.

While Shirahama (lit. “White Beach”) is famous for its beautiful sand, hot springs, and remarkable rock formations, many in Japan are surprisingly unaware of its other claim to fame: pandas. Read on to learn more about the crowd-pleasing train and a theme park complex called Adventure World, which has a panda-breeding and research facility with an impressive track record that’s second only to mainland China. If you’re already tired of the cold this winter, this article may give you some ideas for next summer!

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Filled to bursting point? Rush-hour crush on Tokyo subway leaves train with broken window

The Tokyo metropolitan subway system is notorious for being incredibly crowded at rush hour, with commuters packed into narrow train carriages like sardines in a can. You’re probably familiar with images of white-gloved train conductors literally pushing people onto trains in an attempt to squeeze just one more body on before departure.

It can be very scary being squished into a mass of people like that, and this particularly holds true in case of sudden incidents such as the one that occurred this week when the window of a train literally broke due to the pressure of all of those heaving bodies. Join us after the jump for images of crushed glass and scenes of utter chaos! Okay, it’s actually only a few cracks, but still…

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1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours

On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

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Giant statue built into station in northern Japan is historical, terrifying, and awesome

The major train stations in urban Japan almost seem like small cities, packed with restaurants, hotels, and shopping space. Things are usually pretty different out in the countryside, though, where many rail stops are little more than an awning with a short bench to sit on while you wait for the trains to roll in.

We say rural stations are “usually” simple, though, because in one town up north in Aomori Prefecture, you’ll find a station guarded by what looks like a massive alien.

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Tokyo Station lists departing train’s destination as…New York?!

Foreign visitors and residents who haven’t yet gotten far off the beaten path in Japan might not recognize all of the final destinations of trains that depart Tokyo Station. Some of the various lines that intersect at the rail hub lead to places like Takao, Choshi, and Kurihama, none of which are exactly world-famous (even if the last one does have an awesome Godzilla slide).

The other day, though, one of the platform displays at Tokyo Station announced a train destination plenty of non-Japanese passengers are familiar with: New York.

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Sit back and enjoy the journey: Japan’s Top 10 local train rides

Nowadays with discount airlines, hybrid cars and night buses, it’s easy to get where you want to go quickly and cheaply. Of course, in Japan trains are probably the most utilized mode of transportation. Some train companies around Japan, however, have really taken to heart the idea that “Life is a journey, not a destination,” as there are many train lines which are designed as sightseeing trains, or just happen to pass through beautiful scenery and let you enjoy the journey – the beautiful forests, the stunning seaside, sometimes even the trains themselves are part of the experience.

Recently Rakuten Travel announced its top 10 list for the best local trains around the country. Let’s take a look at what these train lines have to offer after the jump.

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Tokyo’s Shibuya holds its first Halloween costume contest aboard a train, we ride along

Back before Halloween became as popular in Japan as it is today, Tokyo expats looking to celebrate the holiday would stage impromptu costume parties on the last car of the JR Yamanote loop line. At the time, though, most Japanese people weren’t familiar with Halloween, and this tended to freak the indigenous locals out, leading Japan Railways to eventually crack down on the festivities.

Things have changed a lot in the last 15 years, though. Tokyo is starting to seriously get into the Halloween spirit, so much so that another rail company, Tokyu, actually held a Halloween costume contest onboard one of its trains, and we went to check it out.

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South Korean design company turns subway maps into beautiful artwork you can hang on your wall

The first time I went to Tokyo alone, I got lost within the first five minutes of arriving at Shinjuku Station, unable to comprehend why there were so many transfers to different lines going in different directions. Without mobile data on my phone, I was basically one of the ‘internet-less lost gaijin’ crippled by the lack of Google Maps who ended up befriending the station master at every transfer station because, without them, I would probably have had to spend the night hanging out with the buskers on the streets.

The maps in Japanese subway stations are not only confusing, they also look like multi-colored spaghetti or weird roller coasters, and I can clearly recall thinking how nice it would be to have a better-looking representation of the city’s train lines. Thankfully, it looks like South Korean design company Zero per Zero has fulfilled my wish with their subway map designs, which are becoming a hot topic on Reddit.

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Holiday travelers in China get sleepy, creative and frisky on trains 【Photos】

Here in Japan, we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go until our next public holiday, when Sports Day comes up on October 13. Workers in China, though, can look forward to a day off much sooner with National Day of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.

The holiday marks the founding of the nation, and many people choose to spend their time off by visiting family members. The travel rush seems to have already started, but with a country as large as China, some passengers are in for a long ride back to their home towns. But when you’re spending hours upon hours on a train how do you get some shut-eye without springing for a sleeper car? By being inventive and literally flexible, as these photos show us.

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Woman on train groped by two men at once, suspects apparently unrelated

Japan is known for many great things from its delicious food and unique culture to its abundance of anime, manga, and video games. Unfortunately, it has also earned a reputation for being packed with skeevy perverts, which is actually an extremely unfair characterization–the average Japanese citizen is no more perverted than the citizens of any other country. But that doesn’t change the fact that many women still have to put up with both discrimination and sexual harassment, as a story that broke on Friday demonstrates.

A young woman in her twenties was allegedly groped while riding the train. That on its own would be bad enough, but this woman was allegedly molested by two different men at the exact same time.

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Japanese customer service: So amazing that employees will burst out of the walls to help you

One of the most awesome things about Japan is that you can expect amazing customer service just about anywhere. With exuberant convenience store clerks and burger deliverymen who reimburse you for the phone call you placed your order with, you almost expect employees to come bursting out of the walls in order to serve you…and sometimes they do!

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The most crowded train lines during rush hour in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya are…

Even though I could praise Japan’s efficient public transportation system for hours on end, there’s one major drawback about it that has left me traumatized on several occasions and never fails to induce terrifying flashbacks whenever I’m surrounded by too many people. You can probably guess what I’m talking about, right? Yup, it’s about how unbelievably crowded the country’s trains and subways can get during rush hour.

Anyone traveling in the Greater Tokyo Area or other metropolitan centers of Japan should be forewarned that the experience is not for the faint of heart–nor for the claustrophobic. I mean, you know it’s a bad sign when there are actually station staff on hand during peak rush hours to squeeze as many passengers as possible into each car. That said, if you’ve traveled or happen to live in Japan’s capital, you can undoubtedly sympathize with the following ranking of the most crowded train and subway lines in Tokyo at rush hour. And just so you don’t think Tokyo gets all the love, we’ve also thrown in the lists for Osaka and Nagoya, too!

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Kansai scraps “power off” mobile phone ban on trains; Kantō won’t budge

There are seemingly endless things one is not allowed to do on Japanese trains: eat or drink, put on makeup, talk on the phone, take up too much room. Most of these are sensible if strict, making life more pleasant for everybody in a jam-packed carriage. There’s one rule that’s a bit more unusual, though, and that’s the requirement that you switch your phone off near the priority seats.

Mobile phones can interfere with pacemakers, ran the conventional wisdom. So to give passengers with medical equipment a safe haven from electronic interference, most train companies asked passengers to switch phones off completely in certain areas. This summer, rail companies in Kansai more or less ditched that policy, saying it’s no longer necessary. Tokyo, meanwhile, shows no signs of changing the rules. Read More

Train-inspired rice cookers for all the railroad lovers out there

Last spring, pictures of a series of Japanese train-themed rice cookers surfaced online. Die-hard train fanatics were quick to rejoice, and eagerly awaited the products’ release date. After all, what better way to show a love of your hobby than in the form of a practical, everyday object that feeds you?

There was just one little problem–these awesome appliances are actually only fan-made inventions.

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Dog-carrying accessory spotted on Japanese train is awesome, borders on animal abuse

You know those hilarious baby pouches that parents use to strap their kid to their backs, and the kid instantly falls asleep, because that’s what babies do? And then the baby’s limbs just wobble around while the parent walks and you have to do a double take because it kind of looks like the baby is dead at first?

Well, those pouches are apparently also being used on dogs in Japan lately.

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Are Women-Only train cars illegal in Japan?

File this one under things we hope don’t fall into the wrong hands: Those Women Only train cars in Japan aren’t actually enforceable under the law.

All foreign men in Japan can recount their first harrowing experience of obliviously stepping onto a train, only to find that literally every single other passenger was a woman. There’s a moment of confusion and, if you’re lucky, a good Samaritan politely explaining that wieners don’t belong here, followed by the terrible realization that you’ve broken not only an official rule set forth by the train company but also an unwritten social rule, which is kind of almost worse. But, from here on out, you can rest assured that even though you’re committing a social taboo, you’re not breaking any laws!

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Enjoy the serenity of Fumikiri Temple, but don’t get hit by a train while doing so

There are thousands of Buddhist temples dotting the landscape in Japan, and as a result some of them end up in unique locations. One such temple is Henjoin in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

You’re welcome to visit any time but just be careful not to get hit by the Airport Express out of Sengakuji Station that passes right through its entrance. This and many other trains zoom across the temple precincts on a regular basis as they travel along the Keikyo Main Line.

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To sit or not to sit? Linguistic and societal debate on Japanese train seats for the elderly

With how crowded trains get during rush hour in Japan, finding an open seat can be like discovering an oasis in the desert, or a cold can of Ebisu beer in the fridge nestled behind a group of lesser brews. Oftentimes, though, you’ll step into the train and find every seat occupied.

While no one really likes standing for a 30- or 60-minute ride, for some elderly, pregnant, infant-accompanying, or handicapped passengers, that’s not just an unpleasant situation, but a painful, or even impossible, task. Those groups of people still have as much need for mobility as anyone else, though, so rail companies put up signs directing those passengers to special seats for them along the corner benches of each car.

It seems that able-bodied passengers in different parts of Japan react differently to these suggestions, though. Not only that, not everyone believes keeping those seats open is the right thing to do, and a lot of it has to deal with a subtle difference in the wording used in Tokyo and Sapporo.

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