• Nippon (Japan)!!!

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Komachi
I've been lax in my posting of things Japanese, but after visiting the High Speed Rail (HSR) forum for the first time in a long while, I think I'll re-post my links to some good Japanese railway sites...

A good primer on the various types of trains in Japan...

http://ts.sakura.ne.jp/~rokko1go/page_e ... ramain.htm

Here's a good site about the various railways in Japan (although not all-inclusive)...


And a good resource about the shinkansen ("bullet trains")


Enjoy, and I look forward to chatting with anyone interested in the railways of Japan.

  by David Benton
have you ridden any of the 3 foot 6 inch trians in Japan . I would be particularily interested to hear of any tilt trains and how they rode ?
  by Komachi

I did indeed ride the 3'6" lines while I was in Japan, in fact, most of my travels were over the "standard" (the Japanese standard guage is 3'6") lines in Japan, as they were the cheapest lines to ride on. I used the Seshen ju-hatchi kippu ("number 18 ticket") during my travels while on holliday (or "vacation" as we would say in the states) when the school was closed. The ju-hatchi kippu allows you to ride any JR (Japan Railways) train that is a regular, rapid or limited express train for 5 days (can be non-consecutive) for about 15,000 yen (or $150.00 USD) as opposed to the Akita "Komachi" shinkansen (which ran from where I was studying to Tokyo) which was about 12,000 yen (or $120.00 USD) one-way WITH the student discout.

The trains I rode on for the majority of my stay were of the 701 series trainsets as seen at the bottom of the page on the link below...

http://ts.sakura.ne.jp/~rokko1go/page_e ... nrec40.htm

I also rode on a DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) trainset when I used to go visit my homestay family in the port city of Tsuchizaki (incidentally the site of the last mission of World War II), although I couln't tell you what type it was...

As for "tilt" trains, those were on the express trains, and except for my rides on the Akita Komachi and the Tokaido Hikari shinkansen trains, I never rode on one (I was a "bimubo daigakuse," or "poor college/university student, so I couldn't afford to ride the express trains, had to beg my folks for the cash to ride on the shinkansen!!!!), so unfortunately I can't tell you how well they performed. Although, for the most part I will say that the regular trains rode quite well. My only complaint would be of the Meitetsu (a private railway line that operates around Nagoya) EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) cars, which had horrendus transmissions or traction motors, which ground and screamed like banshees while getting up to speed. (But that's a minor issue)

I did, however, do some digging for you on the subject of the tilt trains, and found some examples of "pendulum" style express trains over there.

Here are some express sets built in the JNR (Japan National Railways - pre-1987) era...

http://ts.sakura.ne.jp/~rokko1go/page_e ... nrec30.htm

According to the author, the 381 series trainsets (third picture down from the top) were the first pendulum (or tilt) trains in Japan.

Here are some more modern express trains from the present JR (Japan Railways post-1987)

http://ts.sakura.ne.jp/~rokko1go/page_e ... nrec60.htm

And just for kicks and giggles, here is my namesake shinkanesn, the Akita "Komachi"...


(Although, the shinkansen run on the "broad" (at least for Japan!) guage of 4'8.5")

Hope the links help you out, David, enjoy!
  by Komachi
Ya know, I went to my room and grabbed my Tokyo transit book and never mentioned my experiences there...

When we had breaks at school and we were kicked out of the dormitories, most of us decided to go adventuring around Japan and in most cases, all rails led to Tokyo. With a population of about 30 million people (about 10% of Japan's population lives in Tokyo) and has one of the most extensive railway networks I have ever seen (it's a veritible spider web of private railway lines, JR lines, monorails and subways). You could go virtually anywhere in Tokyo or the surrounding suburbs by rail.

I rode on the Yamanote line (the railway line that is the equivilent of "the loop" on the Chicago "L") on a number of occasions. In fact, I had time to kill on one of my vacations, so I rode the ENTIRE LOOP one day, which took about 30 min. or so. Although, the lines I primarily used in Tokyo were the Chuo (orange trains) and Sobu (yellow trains) lines. I used to stay at a "Capsule Hotel" (those hotels with the little compartments that you can sleep in) in Shinjuku, so the fastest way was to take the Chuo line there. I also spent a lot of time rummaging around the anime (Japanese animation) and manga (comic books) shops in Akihabara (known for its anime shops and numerous electronics shops) so I would ride the Chuo line to Yotsuya and then transfer to the Sobu line. (The Chuo and Sobu run on parallel routes between Tokyo and Shinjuku, with the Chuo being an express line and the Sobu being a local line.) And yes, I had the privilage on two or three occasions to be aboard the Chuo trains during rush hour when people were packed like sardines, it was an interesting experience to say the least.

I also rode on some of the private lines in Tokyo. I had a friend who lived in Sazazuka (Micorsoft's Japanese headquarters is in this area), so I would ride the Keio line from Shinjuku to Sazazuka when I would go visit him. I rode the Oimachi line to visit a friend in Todoroki (although, I can't remember the line I rode to get to Futakotamagowen to connect with the Oimachi line!) and also rode the Keisei #2 line on the Skyliner that went from the Keisei's Ueno terminal (at Ueno station) to Narita Airport to catch my Northwest flight back home.

I also rode the subways in Tokyo to get to the various sights and other locales in Tokyo not accessed by other rail lines. For example, the only way to get to Roppongi (the "forginer quarter" of Tokyo), by rail, is by using the Hibiya line of the Tokyo Subway. I also rode the Toei Asakusa line to get to Sensoji temple (the one with the giant hanging red lanterns).

There were other lines and other trips with Japanese friends that I can't recall at the moment.

Since I was there about four years ago there has been a new subway line added and probably a few new private lines as well (Tokyo is quite a dynamic city, constantly in a state of flux... moreso than most western cities). I would highly reccomend getting a copy of the Tokyo Transit Book (I'm not sure where you would get a copy outside of Japan... mine was given to me by a Japanese friend) as it came in extremely handy in navigating the maze of rail lines there. Although it is daunting, it is still an enjoyable experience riding around the various lines and seeing the sights around Tokyo.

  by BillN
Neat stuff Komachi.
Personally, I think the gray Tsubame out of Hakata station in * is the coolest looking train.
IMHO, Kyushu has better looking express trains than the other islands.

  by Komachi

I'll agree, the Tsubame (800 series shinkansen) is a rather nice looking machine (see link below)...


I will also agree that Kyushu has some neat looking express trains as well (see the usual source). (I found another Tsubame here as a regular express train, the 787 series, is this what you meant instead?) ...

http://ts.sakura.ne.jp/~rokko1go/page_e ... nrec60.htm

(NOTE: Kyushu based trains near the bottom of the page.)

Those 787 series trainsets (16th picture down from top) are pretty sharp looking too... although they look like they're knock-offs of the TGV trainsets. :P

Interestingly enough, I rode the "Moonlight Nagara" (8th picture down on above link) back to Nagoya (was staying with a friend) after celebrating new year's in Tokyo for 2000 (I was in Shinjuku for the turn of the century/millenium). Was a nice, smooth, quiet, fairly comfortable ride, although I wish I had had the money to get a ticket on an overnight train and slept in a sleeper car, would have been interesting (the interior sleeper trains look like they're the old double-deck, drawn curtain compartment sleeper types from the turn of the 20th century here in the U.S., but I've only seen pictures, I'll let others who have actually ridden on the sleeper trains describe them in better detail).

By the way, here's a link to a map of Japan for those who would like a quick reference for when we discuss locations...


  by David Benton
appreciate all the info and links , Komachi . im abit busy at the moment , (just after midnight here ) , hopefully ill get to read it over the weekend .David .

  by BillN
Yes, the 787 is what I was talking about. Yea, it looks like a TGV, but the metallic gray paint job is very cool.
Have ridden the 783 from Hakata (Fu-ku-o-ka) to Sasebo. Actually called Midori Express.
Rode the 885 from Hakata to Kokura. Also very cool.
One day I will resize my pictures and post them someplace.


  by Cactus Jack
Interested in any type of Heritage Railway operation, historic equipment or rail / transportation / auto museums...can anyone help out ?

Cactus Jack
[email protected]
  by Komachi
Cactus Jack,

Give me a while on this. I'll do some digging and let ya know what I can find out in regards to Japan. I know there's a steam locomotive museum in Kyoto (the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum) and I think BillN said there's a museum near Akihabara (a small district in Tokyo). There are also a couple other places I've heard of.

More later.

  by BigDell
Akihabara (a small district in Tokyo)
??!! Really? I used to transfer off the Yamanote line and go out to Akihabara (or further, to Ryogoku for the sumo...). I don't remember any museums out there! Any idea where?
I always do as much railfanning as possible when I'm in Japan (at this point about 2 weeks each year).
BigDell (aka Sagamihara-Boy)
  by Komachi

I too was amazed when I heard about the museum in Akihabara. I was there on many occasions but never heard or saw of it until I returned to the states (must have been blind-sided by the anime (Japanese animation) and electronic devices (of which Akihabara is famous)). Supposedly, it is not far from the train station there. I have a link for it somewhere, let me dig for it. I think BillN has been there a few times, he could provide more info.

  by Guest
Akihabara. In this map (which is upside down, check the compass):
the Yamanote line runs up and down thru Akihabara station. Exit the station and go to the right (west) to the big street that runs up and down.
Cross the Mansei bridge, go under the train overpass, and you will see the Tokyo Transportation Museum towards your right not more than 50 meters from the overpass.
The top picture on here:
is taken from the other side of the museum. The building in the background above the Shinkansen nose, is listed as the Laox main store on the map.

  by pudgym29
I am going to pull this old topic out of the file cabinet because it is the best match for what I shall mention.
I have visited Japan fourteen times since December 2005. I hope to get there again sometime in 2019. I think the reason I enjoy visiting is because when there, I can switch from one interest of mine to another quite swiftly and without bewilderment from people who may (or may not) know me. For you, one of those interests is trains.
I shall mention that while I am no longer active there, when I was, I had two lists on Foursquare denoting venues I had visited or checked in at.
This is the list annotating the train stations in Tokyo and Yokohama (and the two train stations serving Narita Airport).
If you are further interested, I made a presentation to the Central Electric Railfans' Association in May 2012 about trains in Tokyo and Yokohama, and the presentation is still extant on-line. Message me, and I will pass along the details of how to obtain it.