Finally, some train photography without any head trauma or swearing.

As we’ve talked about before over the years, among otaku subcultures the train photography enthusiasts, known as “toritetsu,” tend to have one of the worst reputations. Of course, one shouldn’t make blanket generalizations about an entire group, but repeated cases of rude behavior that sometimes escalates to crime have done a lot to give the humble hobby a bad name.

This put the railways themselves in a difficult position. On one hand, toritetsu are among the most passionate fans of their business, but on the other hand, the companies have a vested interest in ensuring the comfort and safety of their passengers.

▼ A TV segment from last year titled “Toritetsu Trouble,” featuring instances of station employee abuse and service disruption, all in the name of getting a good picture

Increasing security around stations, tightening rules regarding photography around railways, and imposing harsher penalties would certainly have been understandable in such a case. East Japan Railway Company (JR East), however, decided to take a different route and are attempting to embrace the train photography otaku by working together with them in a safe environment.

Last November they launched the Toritetsu Community, a social network moderated by the railway with the aim of uniting and civilizing the once disperse and rivalrous shutterbugs. When the program started it was met with some skepticism, but now we are seeing the first fruits of JR East’s endeavors.

On 22 August, JR East announced that this will be the first year for a JR East Toritetsu Community Calendar to go on sale. This calendar will exclusively feature photographs curated from Toritetsu Community members in various locations, seasons, and settings.

▼ The cover of the Toritetsu Community calendar is shown in the bottom right

Details such as when and where to buy these calendars are yet to be announced, but JR East says they will be posted on their Trainiart Twitter account once decided on. The price is expected to be 1,430 yen (US$10) and supplies will be limited.
In addition, JR East will continue to offer their 2023 Employee Photography Calendar, filled with photographs taken by workers with access to trains and train yards that the public can’t enter. As such the calendars are full of images of classic decommissioned trains as well as ordinary trains in unique settings.

▼ Image from the 2023 Shinkansen calendar

Five types of calendar will go on sale for 2,200 yen ($16) each. They all have a different theme: Shinkansen, Commuter Trains, Limited Express Trains, Tohoku Area, and Joetsu Area. These calendars will go on sale on 21 September through the Trainiart section of JR East’s online shopping site JRE Mall.

▼ Image from the 2023 Tohoku Area calendar

Train calendars always make for a nice, refined addition to any home or office decor, but more importantly the Toritetsu Community calendar is a sign that things are moving in the right direction. It may take time, but this might just be the beginning of the end for the stereotype of the unruly train photographer.

Source: PR Times
Images: PR Times /JR East (JR東日本商品化許諾済)
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