trains

“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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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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