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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.