You may already be aware that there is a subculture of train fanatics in Japan known as densha otaku, or train nerds. But did you know that there are loads of sub-subcultures within the densha otakus? From those obsessed with train noises to experts in train lunch boxes, we’ve got them all covered for you.
- Casey Baseel
Apr 11, 2014
In a way, it’s slightly ironic that Gundam, Japan’s most venerated giant robot, is honored with a huge statue that stands in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. The original series in the franchise was titled Mobile Suit Gundam, but that 18-meter (59-foot) isn’t going anywhere since not only is it incapable of walking, Odaiba is an island and we’re pretty sure it can’t swim, either.
Coming soon, though, is a more logical wat to pay homage to the franchise: a Gundam train.
- Casey Baseel
Apr 7, 2014
In plenty of situations, Japan’s reliance on public transportation is a life-saver. Need some extra time to study for that test in first period? Pull out your notebook and review on the train to school. Had a few drinks too many? Park yourself in a seat on the subway, take a 30-minute nap, and arrive at the station with just enough power to walk home and get your key in the door.
Now, a railway in Chiba Prefecture is looking to give a hand not just to procrastinating students and heavy drinkers (who are, of course, often one and the same), but to young lovers, too, with its special priority seats for couples. That’s right, singletons, you just got one more reason to hate clingy couples.
- Philip Kendall
Apr 4, 2014
Well, that’s a much-loved part of my childhood ruined forever…
I have fond memories of rushing home as quickly possible every Monday afternoon circa 1986, pulling my mother along behind me after she had kindly come to meet me from school, and constantly asking her what time it was, fretting that I might miss even a snippet of the opening credits of kids’ TV show Thomas and Friends.
Had I known that there was just some creepy nude guy inside that little blue tank engine, though, I might have instead dragged my feet as much as possible so as not to give my four-year-old self, already with a highly active imagination and a fear of anything that wasn’t my cat or jam sandwiches, any additional nightmare fuel.
We’ve all woken up with a bad hangover and little to no memory of the night before. A few drinks with friends is a great way to unwind after work, and if a little of something is good, then a lot of something must be great, right?
Well, when it comes to alcohol, we suppose that depends on how much is a lot, but for one Saga Prefecture gentleman, it turns out that a lot was far too much. The government employee apparently fell off of a train platform and landed on the tracks, where he lay for six hours. Unfortunately, when he woke up, a pounding headache was the least of his worries.
- Casey Baseel
Mar 25, 2014
While in the last month we’ve seen an especially intense burst of promotional tie-ups between public transportation and anime, these kinds of collaborations actually go back a few years. In 2011, for example, Keihan Railways partnered up with the producers of hit slice-of-life/high school rock band anime K-On!, in celebration of the franchise’s then-new theatrical feature.
Despite the anime’s low-key atmosphere, though, some K-On! fans can get surprisingly, even disturbingly, passionate about their favorite members of the cast, to a point that these photos are causing a stir in China even years after they were taken.
- Casey Baseel
Mar 21, 2014
Even though everyone daydreams from time to time, in general it’s considered something that kids indulge in more than grown-ups. Many would say that learning to focus on the here and now, and not get sidetracked by flights of fancy, is one of the key skills one needs to learn in becoming an adult.
This emotional and mental development is a major theme of anime and novel series Chunibyo demo Koi ga Shitai, known internationally as Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions. So perhaps its just a little ironic that a franchise that deals with the importance of keeping your fantasies from seeping into your perception of reality has its own anime train.
- Casey Baseel
Mar 21, 2014
There’s a three-day weekend coming up in Japan, which ordinarily is enough to put people in a good mood. Animation fans, though, have something extra-special to look forward to, as the Anime Japan 2014 expo is being held at Tokyo Big Sight this Saturday and Sunday.
The event is sure to attract a large crowd of both enthusiasts and industry professionals, who won’t even have to wait until they get inside the venue for a taste of the most popular franchises, as the nearest train station to Tokyo Big Sight is already decked out with decorations featuring some of anime’s hottest series.
- Casey Baseel
Mar 19, 2014
Among Japan’s numerous fanboy subcultures, train nuts are generally considered to be the most mild mannered of the bunch. They don’t have the lascivious motivations of certain obsessive idol singer fans, nor does their hobby have the graphically violent images often associated with video games and anime produced for the most hardcore fans of those media.
Train fans are mostly content to quietly stand at the end of station platforms or along rural stretches of railway, waiting for a chance to quietly and politely snap a photo of rare engines and carriages. In many ways, their passion is comparable to nature photography, and rail fandom is a pretty allow-key affair, nine times out of ten.
That one time, though, watch out.
Mar 17, 2014
Japan’s “suicide problem” is much talked about, both within the country’s borders and without, with a shocking number of people each year choosing to end their lives by jumping in front of a train. Less talked about are all the other deadly and injurious accidents that take place on train platforms in Japan on a semi-regular basis.
Recently, Japanese rail companies have been experimenting with platform barrier doors to prevent both suicides and other grievous accidents, and most of these inevitably end up looking like something out of Star Trek or a 1990s first-person shooter before technology allowed swinging door animations.
- Master Blaster
Mar 11, 2014
Tokyu Corporation, which runs train lines in the Tokyo Area, announced earlier that at around 2:44 p.m. today all of its trains would stop as part of a training drill to simulate the emergency situation that occurred three years ago today in much of Eastern Japan. It also announced on Twitter that Tokyo’s subway lines run by Toei and Tokyo Metro would stop at this time out of respect for those who suffered during the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011.
- Master Blaster
Mar 7, 2014
Last month, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) installed a single pair of heart-shaped hand straps on one of its lines in hopes of sparking romance among their passengers. However, with Valentine’s Day behind us it seems they aren’t through playing matchmaker.
This time JR Shikoku is strapping on some cupid wings by installing “Love Love Benches” in two of their stations. The seat of the bench slopes inwards so that no matter how two people sit on it they will quickly be brought together thanks the marvel of gravity.
- Casey Baseel
Mar 6, 2014
The Shinkansen is already a pretty cool way to get around Japan, as it whisks travelers from the country’s cosmopolitan urban centers to its more traditional rural locales.
But what if you want to experience a bit of authentic Japanese culture while you’re zipping across Japan at 200 miles per hour? Fear not, Japan Railway has just the thing: a bullet train with tatami reed flooring and a Japanese-style foot bath.
Train transportation is both a blessing and a curse. Train networks make getting around extraordinarily easy, and much cheaper than owning a car. Compared to buses – which are well-known haunts of swindlers, witchcraft users and the very smelly – trains are also safe, clean and convenient.
But sometimes they present a problem, especially for those that don’t own private means of transport. Cosplayers, for instance, may have to get from A to B in costume – which, even on Halloween in Japan, can attract stares and scoffs. Or what if you want to hang out with your giant bird friends at the pub but your giant bird heads won’t fit into the car door? Circus performers, extremely drunk salarymen, movie monster extras and more have all faced this dilemma.
Valentine’s Day in Japan is an all-chocolate affair, as millions of women around the nation stock up on the sweet treats for their friends, partners and colleagues. Lately, women have even been extending the offering to the inanimate world, with handsome anime characters receiving large amounts of gifts from their fans.
Now it seems someone in Japan may have developed a soft spot for a train on the Tokyo Chuo Line as chocolate was found to be the cause for a door jam that delayed commuters during morning rush hour on the most romantic day of the year.
- Cara Clegg
Feb 17, 2014
We’ve already seen Hokkaido residents putting a damper on the fuss Tokyo-ites are making over a bit of snow, but Yamanashi Prefecture genuinely might be able to give them a run for their money. Huge amounts of the white stuff has been causing problems across the prefecture, but has been comparatively underreported compared to events around the capital.
Residents have been taking to Twitter to share these shocking images that aren’t making it onto the news. Check out these rather epic photos.
About a week ago the Kanto region underwent and unusually large snowfall. Although it wreaked havoc on trains and planes, residents largely made out okay by panic shopping and building snow sculptures of cat-men and mega-pikachus.
It was enough to make people in snow burdened regions like Hokkaido send everyone a reminder of their winter woes. Then, it was as if a mad scientist in Kanto picked up that challenge and cranked their weather machine to 11 as the area was hit by another dose of disastrous weather. Here’s just some of the damage tallied.
Generally speaking, it’s considered bad form to suck face on public transportation, particularly in socially conservative countries like the Philippines, but perhaps lovers get a little extra leeway on St. Valentine’s Day, because the Manila Light Rail Transit is offering free tickets to couples bringing the romance today.
The Pokémon with YOU Train is a collaboration between JR East and Pokémon that’s been bringing smiles to the faces of kids affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and this week it made a special appearance in Chiba!
We’re not kids any more, but having seen how awesome it is, we really wish we could take a ride on this thing!!
Coming from abroad to live in Japan, there’s a lot to love–and there’s a lot to be frustrated about as well. One thing that nearly everyone loves about Japan though is the trains! With many of us coming from rural areas where you either drive or walk, being able to hop on a train pretty much any time anywhere can sometimes feel nearly miraculous. Tired? Distracted? Had too much to drink? Raining? None of that matters, because you’re on a train!
And we’re not the only ones who think so either. Today we’ve compiled a list of foreign residents’ favorite things about trains in Japan. Check them out and see if your favorites made the list!
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