Japanese Trains and Their Convenience to Riders

Japanese Trains are considered to be the top trains in the world. So what makes Japanese trains different from other country’s trains?

  • Japanese trains are known for their reliability and railway technology.  Most railways in the world have several variations services – from slow to fast.  In Japan the number one express railway provider is  the West Japan Railway Company, with 13 different Express services.
  • Japan Ticket vending machines are available at the Omori JR Station.
  • The Japanese trains are known for its legendary promptness.    In 2003, the average delay per train on the Tokaido Shinkansen was 6 seconds. Impressively, the fact that during rush-hours, the Shinkansen trains are departing from Tokyo one at every 3 minutes. In addition to this, astonishing performance of Japanese trains are not limited to Shinkansen services. All trains, even the slower Local services follow strict timetables. And because of the tightness of the schedule, even a small delay of a Local train will cause a delay on the connecting Express train and will trigger a cascade of delays through the timetable.
  • Most stations were synchronized  in such a way that  the trains meet on both sides of the same platform to allow people to transfer between Express and Local trains running on the same line. Most stations have markings on the ground to let passengers know exactly where to wait–and if a train does overshoot the stopping point by a few centimeters, they’ll actually back up until everything is correctly aligned.
  • Some provide  electrical outlets on limited express trains.  It’s beneficial to those business persons doing work on their laptop, for some who wants to charge cellphone, access wifi or internet services or for some kids to do their games or assignments using electrical gadget.
  • Offers special food or goods that can only be bought in that station.
  • All Japanese trains provide priority seats for the elderly,  disabled, pregnant women, and people with infants. board the train.
  • Japanese trains which service long distance trips  are usually equipped with bathrooms–but many of them also have showers as well!
  • Convenient rides because of its easy ticketing system

2014 Japan Grand Prix Disaster

The Japanese Grand Prix is one of the stops the Formula 1 racing circuit makes in Asia along its international tour each season. The event is ordinarily hosted at the Suzuka Circuit in the city of the same name located in the Mie Prefecture. In a regular season, the Japanese Grand Prix is often one of much excitement and intensity as the circuit has a long stretch of straight road allowing for speedy overtaking manoeuvres and a rapid series of curves to test the ability of all competitors.


The 2014 race at the Suzuka Circuit wasn’t as joyful of an occasion as fans have come to expect it to be. Instead, it was overshadowed by the severe injury of Jules Bianchi, a competitor hailing from France, driving for the Marussia F1 team.


His injury is the most severe one to have happened since Felipe Massa’s head injury from 2009. The circumstance surrounding Bianchi’s crash is fairly unlucky and highlights the danger of the sport – he crashed into a recovery truck which had been on the track in order to recover a stranded Sauber car.

The Suzuka Circuit team extracted Bianchi from his car unconscious and immediately moved him to the Mie General Hospital wherein the received immediate treatment. According to the officers in charge at the hospital, their CT scan revealed severe damage done to his head, with his chances of recovery being unknown as of the moment. His family released a statement hoping for the best, but nothing is certain for now.

The accident stopped the race and the winners’ celebration on the podium was very much muted with all his fellow drivers being concerned more with his health than their success. The winners merely clinked their champagne bottles and immediately left to support their colleague and his family in this trying time.

Bianchi is a graduate from a young driver’s academy ran by the illustrious Ferrari brand and is the first ever driver to score points in the F1 for the Marussia team. Despite his young age he had already made a name for himself and experts placed his as one of the best drivers in the near future.

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The Japanese have always had an interesting relationship between sports and gambling – in fact, many countries have and still do to this day. However, Japan is a bit different as gambling is generally banned and illegal in many of its common forms. There are no officially sanctioned casinos or other other institutions wherein one can go to play the classic Poker, Black Jack or Roulette gambling games.

The only forms of permitted gambling are Pachinko, a type of slot-machine similar to what is seen in casinos, lottery and betting on 4 different types of public sports.

Kyotei is one of the aforementioned public sports it is legal to bet on is Kyotei which can literally be translated into boat racing is, in Japan, nationally known as “boat race.” as the name implies, Kyotei is a  motor racing sport involving boats. The sport has a rather linear history as opposed to many other sports popular in Japan, dating back to 1952, a time where Japan began recovering from the significant damage done to the nation over the course of World War II and its population beginning to re-establish itself as a progressive society.

24 boat racing courses populate Japan, governed by the Boat Race Promotion Association. The organization used to be called the Kyotei Promotion Association, however changed its name in an effort to promote to the sport nationally as well as internationally while maintaining a sense of uniformity.

A Kyotei race is held on oval courses specifically constructed for the purpose of the betting sport. The courses are 600 meters (1970 feet) long and make the stage for the six competing boats. A single race consists of three laps around the oval-shaped watery race track, bringing the total length of a race to 1800 meters (1.2 miles). Given the speed at which the boats travel and the oval shape of the course, races are over in around 2 minutes, give or take a few seconds, making it a very fast paced and intense form of competition.

An interesting part of Kyotei is that the boats do not start from a stationary position. The boats and their captains are given a signal to leave their docks, from which they begin to circle around the course, warming up their motors and essentially selecting a starting position. A one-minute countdown is initiated and a dozen seconds prior to ending, the boats start racing towards the starting line at maximum speed. In order to set a level playing field, boats must cross thee starting line within one second after the countdown reaches 0 – should they cross too early or late they’ll be disqualified and the bets made on that particular boat are refunded to the betters.

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Auto Race

It may come as a surprise to those who have not visited Japan that gambling is, in fact, mostly prohibited in the country – some consider this an oddity of sorts as many Japanese find great entertainment value in games and types of competition that include chance, luck and other randomized variables.

However, there are a few legalized forms of gambling. These do not come in the form of casinos, but in the form of betting pools centered on so-called “public sports” – spectator sports that tend to draw significant amounts of viewers and large sums in the betting pools.

Auto Race, or Oto Resu locally, originated in the 1950s alongside many other Japanese gambling sports, notably the four which are now “public sports,” in a time period where Japan began reinventing itself as a dominant force in the world economy as a nation of progress for technology and scientific innovation.

Despite the sport’s name, Auto Race does not involve cars. Instead, the betting sport centers on high power motorcycles, normally in the engine power range of just under 600cc. Races today are held on asphalt courses, but originated on dirt tracks and other potentially hazardous surfaces. During the 1960s races on non-asphalt surfaces were banned and the sport standardized by racing on asphalt only, which is now a trademark of the sport. The sport is governed alongside the other gambling sports throughout Japan by the JKA Foundation.

An interesting aspect of the races is that all competing riders are required to spend the night prior to an event in a dormitory with the other riders. During this time, all riders are not allowed to communicate with any party outside the dorm, a measure implemented to prevent potential race-fixing. Race-fixing posed a serious problem in the sport prior to 1967 when the Japanese Yakuza controlled many facets of the sport behind the scenes, causing the popularity of the sport to almost fizzle into non-existence. However in 1967 a motorcycle federation was authorized to control the sport and cleaned it up as a result.

The average Auto Race lasts for a rough 3 minutes over 6 laps and has 8 riders compete against another. This makes the races very short and intense – a trait all of the four public betting sports have in common with another. In addition to the previously mentioned dormitory-system is the alias system – each driver goes by a nickname or alias in competitions. Each driver has to pass an accredited training school prior to taking exams which will grade the rider according to their skill which will determine their starting positioning in a race with the highest ranking rider taking starting spot furthest away from the starting line.

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Formula 1 Racing in Japan

The beginning of motor racing in Japan was in 1963 when the first Japanese Grand Prix was run as a non championship race in the Suzuki Circuit, outside of Nagoya. The first Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix was held at the very fast 2.7- mile Fuji Speedway, 40 miles (64 km) west of Yokohama. This will be the venue of Japanese F1 races for the next 11 years. The Speedway, then, had a banked corner called Daiichi which became the scene of many fatal accidents. In one race, a collision between Gilles Villeneuve and Ronnie Peterson caused Villeneuve’s Ferrari to somersault into a restricted area, killing two spectators. This incident took F1 racing out of Japanese soil for a decade, returning in 1986 in another venue.

From 1987, the Japan Grand Prix was held annually at the Suzuka Circuit, a test track owned by Honda and was designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz. The circuit was notably known for its layout, most dominantly for having the only figure-eight race track to appear on the F1 tracks. Its has become the site for many memorable and exciting Formula 1 race moments. In 2006, the races were once again returned to the newly redesigned Fuji Speedway, now owned by Toyota. Races were supposed to alternate between the Fuji and Suzuka racetracks until Toyota announced in 2009 that a global economic slump is preventing the Fuji Speedway from hosting races from 2010 onward. The races have now been returned to the Suzuka racetrack.


Suzuka Circuit

Since 1987, the Japanese Grand Prix has become a favorite for spectators. Tickets are always sold out. In fact, in the 1990 Grand Prix, 3 million fans fought over 120,000 tickets to the race. F1 drivers like Frenchman Alain Prost and Brazilian Ayrton Senna both of the McLaren team in the late 1980s were very popular then. Today, Japanese fans fill the grandstands to the rafters for their local hero Kamui Kobayashi.


Japanese F1 Driver Kamui Kobayashi

Watching the Japanese Grand Prix comes with a cost. Ticket prices for a 3 day adult pass arefrom $153 to $931. The prices depend on the seat/grandstand location. Despite the steep prices, fans clamber to get tickets and few are left for grabs online months before race day. Transportation to and from the race track is limited to tour and shuttle buses on race days. These buses pick up and drop off fans in designated off-site parking areas. During days without races, regular buses or taxis (for ¥3500 one way) can be taken to the Speedway.

Images from Black Book and The Car Connection