transportation

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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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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No water, no cooking oil, no yogurt: The new strict bus rules in Urumqi, China

With an ever-expanding list of banned items and never-ending security lines filled with personnel and machines bent on examining every inch of your body, air travel seems destined to eventually become one giant cavity search. And while you think you are safe from this kind of annoyance when you are on ground-based transportation systems, the Chinese city of Urumqi recently proved that they can make traveling by bus just as terrible when they banned liquids onboard. To enforce this already hated ban, local authorities have assigned at least two security guards at every bus stations along the more than 100 bus routes in the city.

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No, a bridge didn’t collapse – Tokyo’s crazy Hakozaki highway junction really looks like this

Being a guy who likes driving but has a pretty bad sense of direction, when I lived in Southern California I kept a copy of the local Thomas Bros. road atlas in my car. Having grown up with cheap, easy-to-use paper maps made GPS seem like a nice but exorbitant luxury, and when I first moved to Japan I couldn’t understand why navigation systems were so universally considered a must-have by drivers here.

Then I saw things like the crazy Hakozaki Junction of the Tokyo expressway, and the need for some high-technology guidance started to make sense.

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Watch out for suitcase vehicles zooming by on the streets of China!

Look! It’s a bird! It’s a truck! It’s a…suitcase?!

Yup, you may have to do a double take at the picture above, because that is indeed a man riding a suitcase down the road. As bizarre as it sounds, this guy apparently spent 10 years perfecting his hot new wheels. He won’t be winning any speed contests soon, but you have to compliment his originality. More pictures of his suitcase vehicles after the jump!

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Free highway bus for students connects Tokyo and Fukushima for business or pleasure

In Japan, the job hunting season is under way. From late December to April or May, students who will graduate in the coming year search for jobs en masse. Companies are busy trying to recruit the best and the brightest to apply to their firms, while stressed students rush here and there attending loads of job fairs, company briefing sessions and employment seminars.

For companies in Fukushima Prefecture, still recovering from the 2011 disaster and subsequent nuclear meltdown, recruiting new applicants is doubly hard. They have to contend with the usual tides of urban migration as well as the negative associations now attached to the area, but one local company, Niraku Corporation, has hit upon an idea to help bring young job seekers in: bus them in for free.

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Anime fan’s antics show the international shelf life of otaku perviness is measured in years

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.

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Train station gives convention arrivals what they came to see: tons of anime characters

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.

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Kind-hearted deliverymen hand out truckload of bread to snow-stranded motorists

Last Friday the biggest snowstorm of the last decade hit the Tokyo area. While neighborhood kids had fun building snowmen and couples who managed to meet up could enjoy snuggling up to each other for warmth on a white Valentine’s Day (not to be confused with White Day, which is a totally separate thing in Japan), actually trying to get from one part of the region to another was a major gamble.

Some of the worst off were drivers along the Chuo Expressway that runs through mountainous Yamanashi Prefecture into Tokyo. With the storm dropping over 100 centimeters (39.4 inches) of snow in Yamanashi, over 60 sections of the road were closed due to the unsafe driving conditions. Since most people don’t carry a bottle of snow cone syrup in their glove box, as time went by, the motorists became hungrier and hungrier, until some philanthropic baked goods deliverymen came to their rescue.

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Goods and services that cost a pound of flesh, a bouquet of flowers, and some deep knee bends

Daily life is full of costs that can add up and quietly eat away at your finances without you even noticing. If you take all those subway tokens and cups of coffee and added them up you’d have a nice chunk of change.

Some services are well aware of this fact of life and are offering relief from these nibbles at our wallets in exchange for some healthy or polite habits. Here are five examples from around the world as gathered by Naver Matome.

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Buckle up, Japan! Survey shows only 68.2 percent of backseat passengers wear their seat belt

If you’ve ever lived in Japan, chances are you’ve seen a little three-year-old climbing around the inside of their parent’s car…while the vehicle was in motion. To those in other countries where seatbelt and child safety harness laws are strictly enforced, this might be shocking to hear, but this situation happens more often than you might think. In fact, Japan didn’t have a mandatory seat belt law for rear passengers until 2008.

But even an official law doesn’t seems to deter Japanese drivers from not buckling up when it comes to the backseat. That’s why the Japan Automotive Federation along with the National Police Agency published the results of a 2013 survey detailing exactly how many people use their car’s most important safety device.

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How a Train Delay Led to a Blind Lady Getting Yelled At: A Cautionary Tale for the Transportation Industry

You would think any transportation business would realize that in the event of a massive delay, a steady flow of information to the passengers is crucial.

Still, places like Kunming Changshui International Airport in China and more recently Keihan Electric Railway in Japan continue to leave their customers stranded without a clue about what’s happening with disastrous results.

On 24 March, Keihan Electric Railway experienced a massive loss of power along the entire Main Line running between Osaka and Kyoto. The hour-and-a-half delay ruined many people’s days and resulted in a tongue lashing for one blind lady.

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The Nihlistic Bus Schedule Advertisements of Tsukuba, Now in English!

Think back to the last time you saw an advertisement for a bus schedule.  Difficult isn’t it? Even on the off chance you have seen one before, it probably wasn’t so attention-grabbing as to stick in your memory.

It’s not like bus schedules need advertising anyway.  Either you use one or you don’t, no amount of persuading will likely change that.

Nevertheless, Tsukuba Tekken, a travel and rail association affiliated with Tsukuba University in Japan, has for years been designing quirky advertisements for their on-campus bus schedules.

Displayed in limited locations around the university, these posters have become a local legend both for their mystery and unorthodox content. So sit back and enjoy these advertisements translated into English.

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Mass Looting of Truck Accident Leaves Driver with Sour Grapes

Have you ever wondered why some people are massive jerks?  Occasionally you’ll come across someone who just seems to loath everyone and is a misery to be around.  You figure that something terrible must have happened in the person’s past to make them that way.

During a truck accident on a highway in Lanzhou, China, one of these people may have just been created when a driver had his whole cargo of grapes stolen by an entire community.

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