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!
- Krista Rogers
Sep 7, 2014
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!
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
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.
Aug 29, 2014
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.
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!
- Master Blaster
Aug 16, 2014
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.
- Casey Baseel
Aug 14, 2014
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.
- Casey Baseel
Aug 5, 2014
In a lot of ways, hit anime Love Live seems to be been created with laser precision to strike right at the weak points of Japanese otaku. It’s got a cast filled with high school girls in frilly idol singer outfits who all have their own unique hairstyles and quirks, but are without exception earnest, pure, and devoted to their fans above all else.
So it’s no big surprise that we’ve no seen not only Love Live smartphone cases and shoes go on sale in Japan, but also big-ticket items like sports cars inspired by the franchise. The series isn’t just popular in Japan, though, as the bevy of idols are seeing their popularity rise in China as well, as a Shanghai subway decorated with the show’s characters recently brought fans to their knees in reverence.
Fear is commonly held to be a cold sensation, which is how we ended up with English phrases like “bone-chilling” and “a chill ran down his spine.” Those idioms may not translate directly into Japanese, but Japan has also traditionally thought of feeling cold as part of being scared.
Figuring that when life hands you horror lemons, you make horror lemonade, long ago Japanese society decided to use this to its advantage, which is why in Japan summer isn’t just the season of lightweight kimonos and all-you-can-drink beer gardens, but the time for ghost stories, too.
But in this modern age, maybe you’re too busy to sit around candlelit rooms in old manor houses swapping creepy tales with your friends. So if you’ve got an active lifestyle and need to keep moving while you get your terror on, a ride on Kyoto’s ghost train might be in order.
Public transport such as trains and buses serves millions of commuters each day. Regardless of the country, there are rules and codes of conduct (both written by law and unspoken) that should be observed to ensure all commuters can enjoy a safe, comfortable journey. Although most public transport users adhere to these rules and social norms, there are also bound to be those who ignore them and annoy the hell out of their fellow passengers with their inconsiderate behavior, like these people, who fellow commuters in Korea recently decided to snap and shame online.
Being an island nation, there is no shortages of beaches in Japan–though if you live in Tokyo, there are times when the only thing resembling the ocean to be seen is a sea of people. After a weekday morning commute spent sloshing around in a packed train car, it’s easy to find yourself wishing for a more relaxed environment like the beach. And with summer in full swing, there are plenty of beaches we’d rather be lounging on than just about anything.
But it’s a busy world and who has time to sit on the beach and just relax? Well, we sure don’t! But for those of us always on the go, there are a few train stations that at least will give you a view of the ocean on your way to whatever business you may have. Think of it like a vacation that lasts as long as the train stops!
Jul 19, 2014
Well, it looks like train fans in Japan have something to be excited about — the real-life Thomas the Tank Engine, which has already attracted considerable attention on the Internet and media, is now in service! The Thomas steam locomotive, designed with a large face in the front to quite accurately recreate the well-known children’s character, started on its very first journey on July 12 with about 560 passengers on board. And since we knew this was a ride that would be sure to delight kids as well as adult train fans, one of the reporters from our Japanese site traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture in the center of Honshu, the main island, to see the “real Thomas” on his very first day in operation!
It’s been 100 years since the opening of Tokyo Station. For many people, it’s more than just a rail hub, it’s a symbol of the city and the lives of those who live in and around it.
With just about everyone in Japan’s capital passing through sooner or later, Tokyo Station serves as the backdrop for a lot of nostalgic memories, not to mention some life-changing events for workers and travelers alike. So it’s fitting that the anime made to commemorate Tokyo Station’s 100th birthday is filled with both comforting looks back at the past and hopeful expectations for the future.
- Preston Phro
Jul 15, 2014
In the modern world of dating websites, hook-up apps, and whatever is going on with Ashley Madison, you’d think “finding the one” would be easy. But while Internet dating has become nearly the norm, it’s still not easy to find someone you’re compatible with online. On the other hand, sometimes real life drops a cutie right in our laps, but we don’t have any idea what to do about it!
Logically, the best thing to do would be to pluck up your courage and give the sexy stranger a nice “How do you do?”, because if you don’t seize the opportunity, your only recourse is the missed connections section. And we’re pretty sure people only read those in TV shows! But one woman in Singapore has turned her “missed connection” into a viral video, guaranteeing a lot more viewers than just a lonely Mindy Kaling.
Now the real question is: Did it work?
- Krista Rogers
Jul 14, 2014
The cleaning crews who maintain Japan’s high-speed bullet trains have a mere seven minutes to make the interior of the train spotlessly clean for its next journey. Those seven minutes are carefully divided into different tasks to make sure everything gets done in the allotted time.
Another curious detail people often notice about these cleaners is the way they bow as trains are entering and exiting the station. While this act is generally thought to be a respectful gesture, the intended recipient of the bowing seems to be a matter of great debate, with plenty of conflicting opinions out there, even among the Japanese!
- Casey Baseel
Jul 11, 2014
For the past few decades, getting around Japan has been a snap using the extremely efficient rail network that crisscrosses the country. Even better, in just a few years, not only will you be able to go anywhere on the main island of Honshu by train, but you’ll be able to do it in style, thanks to luxurious new trains servicing the Chugoku, Kanto, and Tohoku regions.
Hokuriku, the part of Japan running along the central northern coast of Honshu, isn’t about to be left out though, and its upcoming train may be the most opulent of all, with an interior decorated with traditional lacquer and gold leaf.
Japan is a country that loves its trains. For many rail enthusiasts, there’s nothing better than a getaway to one of the rural parts of the country to ride on and snap pictures of unique trains running through beautiful countryside scenery.
Some localities even drum up tourism by keeping old-fashioned steam locomotives in service, which are always a big draw. This summer, though, Shizuoka Prefecture’s Oigawa Line is going a step further by dressing up one of its trains as Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Casey Baseel
Jun 15, 2014
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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- Artist turns innocent Disney princesses into flirty pin-up girls4
- How to make epic pancakes with your Japanese rice cooker5
- 6-year-old boy vowed to marry his childhood sweetheart, really marries her 18 years later6
- Ten-year-old boy cuts construction worker’s lifeline because noise was interrupting his cartoons7
- Surgery, diet, and sunscreen transform heavy, swarthy Thai boy into slender, tan-free lady8
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- Burger King Japan’s black burgers look unbelievably gross in real life
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