trains

Several Tokyo train lines were momentarily shut down today in honor of Tohoku Earthquake victims

Tokyu Corporation, which runs train lines in the Tokyo Area, announced earlier that at around 2:44 p.m. today all of its trains would stop as part of a training drill to simulate the emergency situation that occurred three years ago today in much of Eastern Japan. It also announced on Twitter that Tokyo’s subway lines run by Toei and Tokyo Metro would stop at this time out of respect for those who suffered during the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011.

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Japan Railways looking for love in all the weird places again with the Love Love Bench

Last month, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) installed a single pair of heart-shaped hand straps on one of its lines in hopes of sparking romance among their passengers. However, with Valentine’s Day behind us it seems they aren’t through playing matchmaker.

This time JR Shikoku is strapping on some cupid wings by installing “Love Love Benches” in two of their stations. The seat of the bench slopes inwards so that no matter how two people sit on it they will quickly be brought together thanks the marvel of gravity.

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New ultra-stylish, extra-traditional Shinkansen has tatami floors, foot baths

The Shinkansen is already a pretty cool way to get around Japan, as it whisks travelers from the country’s cosmopolitan urban centers to its more traditional rural locales.

But what if you want to experience a bit of authentic Japanese culture while you’re zipping across Japan at 200 miles per hour? Fear not, Japan Railway has just the thing: a bullet train with tatami reed flooring and a Japanese-style foot bath.

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(Just a few of) the craziest things seen on Japanese trains

Train transportation is both a blessing and a curse. Train networks make getting around extraordinarily easy, and much cheaper than owning a car. Compared to buses – which are well-known haunts of swindlers, witchcraft users and the very smelly – trains are also safe, clean and convenient.

But sometimes they present a problem, especially for those that don’t own private means of transport. Cosplayers, for instance, may have to get from A to B in costume – which, even on Halloween in Japan, can attract stares and scoffs. Or what if you want to hang out with your giant bird friends at the pub but your giant bird heads won’t fit into the car door? Circus performers, extremely drunk salarymen, movie monster extras and more have all faced this dilemma.

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There’s snow in my kitchen! Heaviest snowfall on record brings Yamanashi Prefecture to its knees

We’ve already seen Hokkaido residents putting a damper on the fuss Tokyo-ites are making over a bit of snow, but Yamanashi Prefecture genuinely might be able to give them a run for their money. Huge amounts of the white stuff has been causing problems across the prefecture, but has been comparatively underreported compared to events around the capital.

Residents have been taking to Twitter to share these shocking images that aren’t making it onto the news. Check out these rather epic photos.

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Manila offers couples free train tickets for PDA on Valentine’s

Generally speaking, it’s considered bad form to suck face on public transportation, particularly in socially conservative countries like the Philippines, but perhaps lovers get a little extra leeway on St. Valentine’s Day, because the Manila Light Rail Transit is offering free tickets to couples bringing the romance today.

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Pokémon train brings smiles to Tohoku kids’ faces

The Pokémon with YOU Train is a collaboration between JR East and Pokémon that’s been bringing smiles to the faces of kids affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and this week it made a special appearance in Chiba!

We’re not kids any more, but having seen how awesome it is, we really wish we could take a ride on this thing!!

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42 reasons why we love riding the rails in Japan

Coming from abroad to live in Japan, there’s a lot to love–and there’s a lot to be frustrated about as well. One thing that nearly everyone loves about Japan though is the trains! With many of us coming from rural areas where you either drive or walk, being able to hop on a train pretty much any time anywhere can sometimes feel nearly miraculous. Tired? Distracted? Had too much to drink? Raining? None of that matters, because you’re on a train!

And we’re not the only ones who think so either. Today we’ve compiled a list of foreign residents’ favorite things about trains in Japan. Check them out and see if your favorites made the list!

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Creeps on a train: Japanese netizens share their worst transport-related pick-up experiences

While trains in urban Japan are notoriously crowded during the morning rush, people are for the most part perfectly polite and there are even women-only cars to avoid the prospect of unwanted sexual advances in such confined spaces.

But for those unlucky enough to find themselves on a packed train next to a wannabe Casanova, that commute to work can get that much worse with some sleaze ball trying to get his flirt on. One group of Japanese netizens recently started a thread to share some of their more cringe-worthy pick-up experiences on trains, along with a few surprising success stories. Click below to find some great examples of how not to act on a train if you want to impress that hottie you’ve been making eyes with every morning during your commute!

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Train enthusiasts gone wild! Are Japan’s train photographers losing their social graces?

Back in the day you might have called them “train otaku” but they would have preferred “tetsudo fan” a Japanese translation of the British “railfan” label for those who enjoy riding, viewing, and appreciating everything about railway transportation.

Around the turn of the millennium a new Japanese term for train buffs arose: tetsu (iron).  The name also has many derivatives such as “tetsuko” for a female train enthusiast, and “hitetsu” (non-ferrous) for people who are train laymen. Two main groups of tetsu are noritetsu (iron riders) and toritetsu (iron filmers).

The latter of these two are the focus now, as there has been an increasingly troubling trend of rude and dangerous behavior from what many would assume to be the tranquil hobby of train photography. The following are five examples.

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Thomas the Tank Engine locomotive coming to Japan in 2014!

Thomas the Tank Engine has a huge following in Japan. Known here as Kikansha Tomasu, literally Tank Engine Thomas, the cheeky train and his group of hard-working friends are so popular they even have their own amusement park and a hotel dedicated to them with unique, train carriage-themed rooms. Now Japanese fans are looking forward to their biggest present yet: a chance to ride on a fully-working Thomas the Tank Engine steam locomotive. Set to take passengers down the hills and round the bends of the Oigawa Line in Shizuoka Prefecture, this is a really useful engine we adore!

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Elementary school girls rescue wheelchair-bound woman stranded on train tracks

Here’s a happy little story to start your weekend off right!

This Wednesday, a group of seven elementary school girls spotted an elderly lady trapped on a railroad crossing in Yamanashi Prefecture. Her electric-powered wheelchair had run out of power, leaving the poor woman stranded–and that’s when the brave girls sprang into action.

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Yamanote trains become moving exhibition spaces

Weird and wonderful things happen on Tokyo’s Yamanote train line. From puzzle-solving challenges to weddings and men walking ears of corn, it seems the popular downtown route is a great way get on board with new trends.

From this month, Yamanote line trains will be continuing their tradition of innovation with a surprising collection of artistic photographs. Mounted at a perfect angle for the eye of the passenger, these photos will take you away from the discomfort of a crowded train and transport you to a much more beautiful place.

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The trials and tribulations of giving your seat on a train to a Japanese senior citizen

Given the amount of time people spend riding trains in Japan, it’s no surprise that there’s a whole set of both implicit and explicit protocol passengers are expected to follow. Eating on the train is considered bad form, for example, and passengers are expressly asked to refrain from talking on their cell phones or allowing them to ring.

One of the trickiest aspects of Japanese train etiquette involves giving up your seat on a crowded train. Good manners stipulate that the elderly and young children have priority, but as the stories from Twitter users below show, what seems like it should be a simple act of kindness isn’t always so simple after all.

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Harry Potter trains and towering Hogwarts Castle appear in Osaka!

As the year draws to a close and 2014 pokes its head over the horizon, Harry Potter fans in Japan are finding it harder to contain their excitement over the summer opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Osaka. Fan photos on Twitter show how the progress is going, with an awesome train service and a near-complete replica of Hogwarts Castle that looks exactly like the one on film.

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Hamamatsu train station unveiled in miniature form

There’s no denying that the world looks a whole lot cuter when it’s scaled down to miniature form, and even ordinary train stations are no exception to the rule. Hamamatsu station, in Shizuoka Prefecture, has been given the mini-me treatment, thanks to one of its renowned residents, award-winning modeler Takuji Yamada. On display in the city centre, people from all over Japan are gushing at the model’s remarkable quality and it’s amazing likeness to the original.

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Couple holds intimate, romantic wedding ceremony on Tokyo’s busiest rail line

Out of all the rail and subway lines crisscrossing Tokyo, the most well known and heavily used is the Yamanote Line which encircles downtown Tokyo. Stations along the Yamanote serve some of the city’s busiest business, education, and entertainment districts, and the result during rush hour is train cars that are so packed it’s comical (for everyone except the passengers themselves, of course).

This month, however, the Yamanote Line was the site of a gathering quite a bit more intimate than its usual pressed mass of sleeping white-collar professionals, as a couple held their wedding ceremony onboard one of its trains.

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Handicapped man draws beautiful and detailed trains entirely from memory 【Photos】

Hisashi Fukushima, a 44-year-old man from Hidaka City, was born with a serious learning impediment, but this handicap has in no way gotten the better of him. This truly gifted individual is an awe-inspiring artist with an unbridled passion for the beauty of the railway system. Fukushima’s photographic memory and steady hands have allowed him to recreate many life-like scenes of trains upon their tracks in paintings as well as paper craft. His faithful renditions of Japan’s railways have earned him a number of prizes in art exhibitions, and one glance at his work makes it obvious why! Keep reading for a sample of Hisashi Fukushima’s stellar art portfolio.

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All aboard! Taking a ride on Kumamoto Prefecture’s party train

Kumamoto, a rural prefecture on Kyushu Island off the mainland of Japan, is one of the remaining “car societies” in a country using more and more public transportation. It is also home to one of the country’s roving party locations: the Beer Garden Train. While it’s nothing unusual to see drunk people on public transportation in Japan, this one-car trolley actually encouraged us to imbibe!

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Commuters surprisingly receptive to JR’s innovative new system

Trains in Japan can get pretty hot and sweaty even without the sweltering summer heat mixed in, and some commuters have voiced concerns about the conditions on trains that have to wait at the station for more than the usual barely-enough-time-to-get-on-and-off 30 seconds. However, one of Japan’s major rail companies has come up with an innovative solution to keep passengers a mite cooler.

To keep the cool in their carriages, JR East (East Japan Railway Company) has implemented a new system on their trains departing from stations such as Tokyo and Shinagawa along the Tōkaidō Line. From now on, the usually open doors will remain CLOSED before departure, requiring passengers to physically press a button to open the doors and board the train. Yep, that’s it folks – their grand idea was to shut the doors.

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