鉄道の日 (Tetsudo-no-hi) Railway Day

14 October is 鉄道の日 (Tetsudo-no-hi) ‘Railway Day’ in Japan, marking the anniversary of the opening of the first railway. That first line ran from Shimbashi to Yokohama. The original Shimbashi was eventually abandoned, with a new station being built. The foundations of the original station were discovered when land was being excavated as part of…

End of Eras

I first travelled to Japan in July 1989, in the first year of the Heisei era. In January 2019 I made my 43rd trip to Japan and the final one of the Heisei era since there will be a change during the year. One of the highlights of my first trip was taking a 100-series…

Reflecting on 25 years of the Japanese Railway Society

When the Japanese Railway Society was established in 1991, I was still an undergraduate student at Sheffield University studying Japanese & Business. Somewhat coincidentally, I was just starting to try to formalise my studies about the Japanese railways, having put in a proposal to study some aspect of them for my final year dissertation. In…

486 Steps

If you take out a map of the Japanese railway network and follow the Jōetsu conventional mainline out from the capital towards Niigata you will find two loops in the line. The flat map cannot do justice to what is taking place here as the mainline struggles to overcome the mountain range that separates the…

War on the Tōkaidō

The history of the Tōkaidō goes back over 1200 years. The original ‘road’ (in reality not much more than a path) linked Heijōkyō (modern-day Nara) with provinces in the East of Japan. The main competition for those who plied their trade along the route came in the form of boats along Japan’s Pacific coast. With…

Photographing the Shinkansen: Fuji

The view of the shinkansen passing Mount Fuji is probably the most well known and well used image of the shinkansen. This article will explain where to go to get that shot… what it cannot do it help you with the weather. Winter is a better bet than summer – but Mount Fuji tends to…

Photographing the Shinkansen: Tōhoku Shinkansen in Kantō

When most visitors to Japan think of the shinkansen, I suspect the typical image that comes to mind is that of the white and blue livery of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen. That many of Japan’s attractions lie along the route to Ōsaka, as well as beyond into Kyūshū, further underlines this. This is a shame, for…

Photographing the Shinkansen: Okayama

So far this series of articles has concentrated on photo locations which are easily accessible by public transport and by foot. While the locations in this article can be done by using buses or local trains, I would not recommend it. Instead, hire a car. This is not difficult and, assuming the car has –…

Photographing the Shinkansen: Lake Hamana

Although the Tōkaidō Shinkansen may not offer the variety of rolling stock that is found on the Sanyō Shinkansen or on the JR East lines, it does have good vantage points from which to take pictures. This article covers 7 different shots that can easily be covered in a half day. Note that there is…

Photographing the Shinkansen: Fukuyama and Tokuyama

While the frequency of trains along the Sanyō Shinkansen is not as great at the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, meaning longer waits between shots, there is a much greater variation in rolling stock. There are a number of good photo spots along the line. In this article I will discuss two of these; Fukuyama and Higashi-Hiroshima. Fukuyama…

Photographing the Shinkansen: Kakegawa

During the course of my research about the shinkansen I have had the opportunity to take photographs from a number of locations. In the first of a series of articles, I will look at how to get to good locations to take photographs of the shinkansen – whether they be popular locations, such as the…

EXPO 2005 and Trains

In May I travelled to EXPO in Aichi with a heavy heart. I was going out of necessity rather than desire. Part of the site of this ‘environmental’ exposition is in Seto, where I used to live. However back then, rather than concrete and steel, the site was hills and trees. Yet, having seen so…