Tag Archives: train

Snowy Day in Tokyo

18 Jan

The weather forecast yesterday said that it was going to snow in the Tokyo area this morning, so I wasn’t surprised by this morning’s snow.

It snows a lot in northern Japan, but only a couple of times each winter in Tokyo. And when it does snow here, it’s normally not very much. I have seen blizzards and heavy snow in Tokyo…but not so often.

Because it doesn’t snow so much here, Tokyo isn’t as prepared for it as they are up north. Most people don’t own a snow shovel here. You can often see people using dustpans to move snow from driveways.

And, the buses and trains will often be delayed when there is a lot (by Tokyo standards) of snowfall. There were a lot of delays this morning.
Though train and bus delays are an inconvenience that we’re not so used to in Japan (due to the extremely punctual public transportation system here), no one complains…everyone understands that the train and bus workers are doing their best to deal with the weather. Better “safe than sorry”.

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A picture I took this morning of someone’s flower garden covered in snow.

Train runs for one kid

11 Jan

CityLab website ran this story about a train in a very rural area of Japan that makes only two stops—one when a lone high-school student leaves for school and the other when she returns.

For years, there’s only been one passenger waiting at the Kami-Shirataki train station in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Japan: A high-school girl, on her way to class. The train stops there only twice a day—once to pick up the girl and again to drop her off after the school day is over.

It sounds like a Hayao Miyazaki film. But according to CCTV News, it was a decision that Japan Railways—the group that operates the country’s railway network—made more than three years ago.

At that time, ridership at the Kami-Shirataki station had dramatically fallen because of its remote location, and freight service had ended there as well. Japan Railways was getting ready to shut the station down for good—until they noticed that it was still being used every day by the high-schooler. So they decided to keep the station open for her until she graduates. The company’s even adjusted the train’s timetable according to the girl’s schedule. The unnamed girl is expected to graduate this March, which is when the station will finally be closed.

People are tipping their hats to the Japanese government for making education a top priority. “Why should I not want to die for a country like this when the government is ready to go an extra mile just for me,” one commenter wrote on CCTV’s Facebook page. “This is the meaning of good governance penetrating right to the grassroot level. Every citizen matters. No Child left behind!”

Others, like the creator behind this YouTube video, grieve over the struggling railways of rural Japan. With the country’s record-low birthrate, aging population, and the threat of losing a third of its population by 2060, Japan faces a number of crises including a surplus of vacant housing and a shrinking workforce. The nation’s railroad system is being hit by these shifts.

The train's time-table. One train at 7:04AM and another at 5:08PM.

The train’s time-table. One train at 7:04AM and another at 5:08PM.

Japan’s impressively efficient high-speed rails have continued to expand to the outskirts of the country, rendering many of Japan’s older, low-tech railways obsolete. Kami-Shirataki station, for example, sits in the town of Engaru in the rural part of Hokkaido, which lost at least 20 rail lines in the past few decades, according to Fortune.

But if this story of a young girl and her special connection to the Kami-Shiratki station is any indicator, Japan’s disappearing rural railroads will be remembered for their service to even the most remote parts of the country.

 

New Yamanote trains

1 Dec

The 山手線 (Yamanote Line) is a train line in Tokyo.
Unlike other some of the other numerous train lines in Tokyo, this one never leaves metropolitan Tokyo. It has some trains going clockwise and some going counter-clockwise in a loop around the major stations in Tokyo. A full loop around every station on the Yamanote Line takes almost exactly one hour…but the longest you’d have to ride it is a half-hour (since it goes in both directions).

The Yamanote Line is easily identifiable because the trains are lime-green in color.

JR (Japan Railways), the company that runs many train lines all around Japan…including the Yamanote Line, began using new, updated trains on the Yamanote Line yesterday.

This is the first time this line has gotten new trains since 2002. I remember when the 2002 trains came out…they seemed so “modern”. But the new 2015 line make those trains look outdated!

The new Yamanote Line train attracted a crowd when it was shown to the public yesterday (photo from TV Asahi)

The new Yamanote Line train attracted a crowd when it was shown to the public yesterday (photo from TV Asahi).

These new trains has considerably less advertised posters on the train walls. Instead, it has many more digital monitors.

As I mentioned above, the Yamanote Line runs in metropolitan Tokyo only…normally!
Yesterday, as it was the first day for these new trains…one Yamanote Line train made a special trip to Kamakura, about an hour south of Tokyo!

Coincidentally, we drove to Kamakura yesterday (Click here to see my photos).

Japanese train station safety barriers

17 Mar

Many things in Japan are high-tech far beyond other countries…such as toilets and bathtubs, vending machines, etc.

And the “accessibility” for the handicapped in Japan has become quite good…for example, braille is on many things here including money, alcohol and shampoo (Click here to read a post I wrote about that.)

But there was one thing that I also should be changed…the lack of safety barriers on train and subway platforms.

Thankfully there aren’t very many cases…but on occasion, drunk, blind or careless people have fallen off of the platforms.
And, unfortunately, suicidal people have jumped from them onto the path of oncoming trains.

But, of course, I’m not the only who noticed this problem and more and more train stations are installing safety barriers to keep people from falling (or jumping) from the platforms.
Eventually all of the train stations in Japan will have them!

And, of course, train station platform safety barriers in Japan are high-tech.

Check out this video:

(hat tip: RocketNews24)

Heroes on the Platform

24 Jul

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Yesterday, at a train station near Tokyo, a woman became stuck when she fell into the space between the platform and the train.

The people on the platform pushed the train enough for her to be pulled to safety.

Japan brought back the steam locomotive

22 Jun

Have you ever visited Japan? Even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard about Japan’s excellent, clean, safe, affordable, extremely punctual and high-tech public transportation system.

Especially in big cities such as Tokyo, there are train and subway stations and bus stops all over the city.

The trains, subways, and buses are on time to the minute. They’re very comfortable…upholstered seats, air-conditioning in the summer and heated in the winter.

The fare can be paid with the swipe of a convenient IC-card.

And, of course, the trains and subways are electric. It’s been that way for decades. Japan hasn’t used the steam locomotive (SL) for a long time.

But, for something fun to do this summer (especially for families with young boys) and also to show support to Fukushima, Japan Railways (JR) will offer the chance to ride on a steam locomotive train.

This is only temporary (for the summer of 2011) and also the trains will only run in the countryside area of 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture), north of Tokyo.

Have you ever ridden on a steam locomotive? If you’re able to visit Gunma, Japan this summer, this is your chance.

Japan will bring bullet train to Florida?

23 Nov

Japan is well-known for it’s excellent public transportation system. Especially in big cities like Tokyo.
Japan’s trains, buses and subways are clean, safe, extremely punctual, convenient and affordable.

Even though the taxis here aren’t really affordable (a taxi ride in Japan is pricey), they’re also clean, safe and convenient.

You may also know that Japan has an excellent 「新幹線」 (“Bullet train” (or “Shinkansen” in Japanese)) system.

"Shinkansen" (Bullet train) passing Mt. Fuji.

Japan’s 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) system is the world’s busiest and fastest bullet-train service.
The speed record was set a few years ago when the 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) reached a speed of over 580 km/hr on a test-run. With passengers though, the trains travel up to about 300 km/hr.

When U.S. President Obama announced that America would begin building and using bullet-trains systems in various parts of America with the first one scheduled to connect Tampa, Florida (my hometown) to Orlando and Miami, Florida many bullet-train companies around the world began bidding for the contract to build Florida’s first high-speed train service.

Map of Florida showing the planned bullet-train routes.

Companies in Canada, Germany and France are competing with Japan for the contract.

But it seems that Japan’s JR Tokai company has a good chance of winning the bid.

If Japan wins the bid then Florida will have a 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) system like Japan’s.

 

One of JR Tokai's 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) trains.

I wonder if America will be able to maintain the punctuality, safety and convenience of Japan’s train systems.

Have you ever ridden a 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) in Japan? Or any of Japan’s trains or subways?
Have you taken public transportation in other countries?
What are your impressions?

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By the way, today is a national holiday in Japan…「勤労感謝の日」 (“Labor Day”). (Click here to read my short “F.A.Q.” about it.)