Why Japanese trains surprise tourists so much? Let’s play a game: you need to guess which country has the highest density of vending machines in the world! Tough? Here’s another hint for you: it’s also the country which consists of a staggering 6,852 islands! Right you are! It’s Japan.
And one of the most amazing things about this country is its railway! See for yourself: 45 of the 50 busiest railway stations on this planet are in Japan. And Japanese trains are literally one of the world’s marvels. Let’s have a look at the most popular ones! Sunrise Express is an overnight sleeping train.
And before I start telling you all about its secrets, I have to warn you: After you learn more about this amazing kind of transportation, you may feel an overwhelming desire to travel to Japan and take a trip on this train! Sunrise Express consists of two trains, Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto.
They’re combined on their way from Tokyo to Okayama, then split up and travel to two different places. Sunrise Seto goes to Takamatsu, and Sunrise Izumo heads for Izumoshi. As you may guess, on the way back, the two trains get coupled in Okayama again and return to Tokyo as a whole.
Unlike most modern trains, Sunrise Express has not one or two, but six types of accommodations! And if you prefer to travel with the highest standards of comfort, no matter the cost, first class is for you. By choosing a Single Deluxe compartment, also called A class, you’ll get a cozy room for one passenger.
You’ll have everything you need there: a table with a chair, access to radio controls, lockable doors, and a personal sink situated next to your bed. Also, you won’t have to worry about bringing along a change of clothes because you’ll be provided with slippers, a bathrobe, and a set of toiletries right on board. Oh, and some more good news! Whenever you feel the need to freshen yourself up, you can visit a shower without any problems. This service is free for deluxe compartment passengers! As you see, these compartments make you feel as if you’re staying in a nice, although not very spacious, hotel room which is also conveniently moving toward your destination point.
Besides, you can admire the breathtaking local landscapes through your compartment’s wide window. And what a great bonus it is! But let’s say you don’t want to spend a fortune on your privacy, or you’re going to travel with a companion. In this case, you can opt for class B which offers passengers different kinds of accommodations, such as Sunrise Twin, Single Twin, Single, and Solo.
You can choose the one to your liking depending on whether you travel alone or with a partner. By the way, class B doesn’t mean that it’s significantly worse than first class. You can close the door of your compartment just as you do in class A and enjoy a wonderful atmosphere of isolation. On the other hand, you won’t get any slippers… That’s not all Sunrise Express has to offer! There’s also Norinobi, and even the name sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? That’s the last type of the train’s accommodation.
And it probably looks like nothing you’ve seen before! Imagine this: you enter Norinobi and are greeted by a single two-level space that has a flat and rigid surface. Small wooden walls separate sleeping places, and each of the latter has a window, so, you won’t have any problems with enjoying the views outside.
The seats (or shall I say “beds”?) are comfortable and long enough to have a good rest. All in all, Norinobi is the perfect way to feel like a local, make new friends, and understand Japanese culture and lifestyle a bit better. On the whole, Sunrise Express has everything you may need to have a comfortable trip. There are enough toilets to take an early morning bathroom trip without getting stuck in a restroom line.
On top of that, on board the train you’ll find vending machines with drinks, lounges, and smoking cabins. And one car has a special compartment that is wheelchair accessible. But there’s one important thing you should remember unless you’re traveling in a first class Single Deluxe compartment.
If you want to take a shower, you need to buy a special card. Well, why not? It sounds reasonable, right? Maybe, if you don’t consider the fact that water in the shower flows for only 6 minutes, and you can see the countdown on a special timer inside the shower cabin. Oh my, doesn’t it sound like a challenge to rinse off all the shower gel and shampoo before your time runs out?
But whether you finish on time or walk out of the shower still slippery from the unrinsed soap, you’ll still need to press the auto clean button so that the shower cleans itself. Which type of accommodations would you pick if you traveled by Sunrise Express? Sound off in the comment section below! Well, Sunrise Express is something else!
But how about the train that almost tops the list of the world’s fastest trains? Right, I’m talking about Shinkansen! Even the most experienced travelers will find some facts about this train jaw-dropping! The engineer who invented Shinkansen, Hideo Shima, planned to design a train that would look and feel like an airplane.
And he obviously succeeded! Interestingly, after finishing his railway career, the man was promoted to the head of the National Space Development Agency of Japan. Shinkansen has another name, “the bullet train,” and no wonder! The train’s operating speed can reach 200 miles per hour! But according to test runs in 2003, Shinkansen can increase its speed up to 361 miles per hour!
When you think about such breakneck speed, it’s impossible not to wonder about rail accidents. But the Shinkansen safety record is nothing but impressive. The train has been running for almost 55 years and has already carried more than 10 billion passengers. But even despite frequent typhoons and earthquakes, there haven’t been any fatalities among passengers.
Even more, in 2012, when they estimated the average Shinkansen’s delay from the schedule, it turned out to be only 36 seconds. And these delays came from all kinds of uncontrollable causes, like natural disasters! One very curious thing about this high-speed train is “Shinkansen Theater.” No, that’s not about actors performing in plays on board the train. This is the name of one of the most unusual cleanup teams in the world. Just imagine: these people can clean the whole train within 7 minutes.
They probably use some kind of magic, because the trains are always spotlessly clean. And unlike the rules applied to other Japanese trains, you can eat and drink on board the Shinkansen. At most railway stations, there are stores that sell bento boxes (aka lunch boxes) so that you can buy one and eat during the trip. This Shinkansen train sounds like some kind of sci-fi transportation! But even without mentioning this high-speed train, Japanese railway is an amazing thing on its own. Here are some exciting facts about it.
All Japanese high-speed trains have an automatic emergency brake system that comes into action in case of an earthquake. Picture this: at the first signs of an earthquake, the central control system which connects all the trains all over the country freezes every single one in its track. In Japan, there’s a profession that probably doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.
That’s the “pusher.” Oh no, this person doesn’t push the train to help it speed up! Pushers, also called attendants, help passengers get into crowded railcars. What a job! The world’s busiest train station is Shinjuku which has more than 3.6 million visitors. Not a month or a week – a day! This place is a baffling maze of underground tunnels, where even the most seasoned locals regularly get lost.
In 2016, the East Japan Railway designed a new single-purpose app which can help passengers get around Shinjuku station. The longest train that runs upside down is also in Japan. To see this wonder, you need to travel an hour outside of Tokyo, where you’ll find yourself in a beachy prefecture called Chiba.
The Chiba Monorail System has a weird retro-futuristic look. The train itself hangs from the rails and travels along the 9.4 mile long track. It makes the Chiba Monorail the longest suspended rail system on the planet. Japanese people are really, really fond of their trains. Do you want proof? How about this: there is so much train fandom in the country that train lovers separate into numerous groups, from those whose hobby is to walk around train stations to those who can’t live without train lunch boxes.
In 2017, a Japanese train company apologized to passengers when its train left the station 20 seconds ahead of schedule. This story went viral all over the Internet in Japan. The Tsukuba Express, which connects Tokyo and Tsukuba, departed at 09:44:20 instead of 09:44:40 as it was supposed to. It turned out that the crew didn’t check the departure time properly. Shame on them!
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Credit: Bright Side