transportation

Tokyu Bus alight button is yours to own, pushing all the right buttons

Japanese people take their public transportation very seriously. Millions commute to work either by train, subway or bus on a daily basis. When spending so much time on buses and trains, one tries to find joy in the small things in life, like the sound and satisfaction from pressing the alight button on a bus to indicate you want to get off at the next bus stop.

That thrill can soon be yours to hold and enjoy to your heart’s content. Tokyu Bus Corporation, which operates multiple lines in and around Tokyo, will be releasing a Tokyu Bus alight button kit, which allows transportation nerds to press away all day long.

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The surprisingly soothing tranquility of Japanese taxi drivers waiting for passengers 【Video】

If you’ve ever toured a factory or seen a video of one operating, you know there’s something entrancingly soothing about seeing sophisticated machinery in action. Taking a human-designed process and repeating it with such unswerving coordination can make it feel as natural and calming as sitting beside a lake while watching the waves lap the same spot on the shore over and over.

But it’s not just machines that can perform a routine with such precision as to impart a sense of reassuring inevitability, as shown by this video of taxi cab line protocol in Japan.

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Shin-Koiwa Station is going all out to prevent human injury and death

Delays on a train are annoying but inevitable, since with such a massive transit system in Japan, not everything is going to work 100 percent of the time. No one wants to see the words “train delay” on the information screen at the station, but even more so, no one wants to see the reason for the delays attributed to “human accidents,” the catch-all term Japan uses when people are found on the tracks while the trains are running.

An unfortunately common station for such accidents is implementing a number of changes in order to curb the rise of these incidents. It’s not just barriers and fences, prevention can start with you! So join us after the jump to see what sort of changes are being made to Shin-Koiwa Station.

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Six-passenger van stopped by Chinese traffic officials… for carrying 51 passengers

As much as we try not to generalize or stereotype specific countries and regions here at RocketNews24, the glut of bizarre news stories coming out of China these days makes us feel pretty justified in our feelings that living there must be just a non-stop parade of crazy events.

And here we go again with another Chinese news story that literally sounds like an surreal circus clown act. Just wait until you see this video.

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It’s difficult to say if this Japanese power unicycle is cool or not

Starting this summer, Japanese company Onewheel will offer a limited number of these Onewheel i-1 motorized unicycles. Their revolutionary design and features are sure to make prospective buyers think long and hard about whether they’re actually really cool or incredibly lame. Even their catchphrase “What is this?” feeds the ambiguity.

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“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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Chinese trucker hauling huge boat on highway attracts police, $32 fine and a lot of laughs

When you don’t have access to the right equipment, sometimes you just have to get creative and find a way to get the job done. But a Chinese truck driver who was caught hauling a massive 30-meter-long (98 feet) boat that weighs 100 tons found out that you might want to stay off the highway, since police frown on endangering the lives of the rest of the driving public. And this isn’t even the first time a Chinese trucker has been pulled over for transporting a comically large sea vessel down a highway.

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“Hell on Earth” as Tokyo subway station floods with sewage

Imagine you’re taking the subway to work, getting off at Kayabacho Station just like you do every morning, when suddenly a putrid odor hits your nostrils. You look around but see nothing, at least until you look down and find out you just stepped in a gigantic puddle of toilet leakage.

That’s what happened to many commuters on the morning of February 26 at the unlucky train station in Tokyo. Thankfully the foul mass of sludge has been cleaned up, but not before some pictures of the event were captured that will make you swear something stinky is coming out of your computer screen.

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Narita Airport shuttle buses – Cheaper than the train, but which bus is best?

Most tourists to Japan will come in and out through Tokyo’s Narita Airport. But like many international airports, Narita is not exactly on the doorstep of a major destination city, and travellers headed for Tokyo will usually make the 60-kilometer (36-mile) journey to the metropolis via the Narita Express, a high-speed rail service with a single-trip fare of 3020 yen (US $25.34).

What’s perhaps less well-known is there are two budget bus services that take you from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station for as little as 900 yen. Tokyo Shuttle and The Access Narita seem to offer similar airport shuttle services, but which is the better option?  And can they match the Narita Express in comfort and convenience? We sent one of our Japanese reporters to test out both services and find out!

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Staggered by historical preservation survey costs, Kyoto turns to anime girls to save its subway

With over 300,000 people piling into its trains each day, you’d think the Kyoto Municipal Subway would be sitting pretty financially. That’s actually not the case, though. The city’s status as the former capital of Japan is both a source of local pride and a huge draw for travelers, but being literally built atop the foundations of Japanese history means that any subterranean construction can only take place after extensive surveys ensure that no cultural artifacts would be damaged in the process.

As such, maintenance and expansion costs for the Kyoto subway are more than double what they would be in a similarly sized, less historically significant city. So in order to help raise the revenue necessary to treat Kyoto’s past with the respect it deserves, the subway’s operators are turning to something with more modern appeal: cute anime girls.

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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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Chinese bus stop alleviates the boredom of waiting by threatening to crush everyone under it

China has become one of the world’s fastest growing car markets. On a macroeconomic scale, this is due largely to demand rising as Chinese consumers enjoy greater prosperity, coupled with more and more automakers putting an effort into building and selling their products in China.

On a microeconomic scale, though, we think at least a few car sales in the city of Foshan are from people who lost their nerve about using public transportation after spending too long waiting at a bus stop that has a demolished building going down around, and even on top of, it.

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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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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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