Japan’s passenger rail system celebrates 150 years of service
From October 3rd to November 10th, those wondering what the first train ride in Japan was like will get their chance to experience it wherever they are in the world. Through “Virtual AKIBA World,” guests can log on and experience Japan’s first train ride through a digital reproduction of Locomotive No. 1 complete with Meiji-era scenery and clothing.
NEW YORK – When the plans to build a railroad were first finalized in 1869 and railroad construction began, it would take three years before the first train ran between Shimbashi Station and Yokohama (now Sakuragicho) Station would launch. The event was celebrated far and wide as a symbol of Japanese culture entering the new industrial era, of which the rest of the world was already a part. Since then, Japan’s iconic transit system has been hailed by modern standards as top of the line and efficient, expanding to almost all of the country’s 47 prefectures. 2022 will mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the railroad, and Japan’s transit system has a variety of ways for travelers to celebrate the occasion this October.
“Drive” a Shinkansen Train
Several JR East hotels in Tokyo in the Ikebukuro or Marunouchi neighborhoods will allow guests the chance to “drive” one of Japan’s iconic Shinkansen trains with a Shinkansen driver simulator installed in their hotel rooms. The simulator is an exact replica of the train’s front car; and both adults and kids are encouraged to take a seat as the conductor and drive the train themselves. Guests at the hotels can experience this special opportunity through March 2023.
Relive Japan’s First Train Ride through the Metaverse
From October 3rd to November 10th, those wondering what the first train ride in Japan was like will get their chance to experience it wherever they are in the world. Through “Virtual AKIBA World,” guests can log on and experience Japan’s first train ride through a digital reproduction of Locomotive No. 1 complete with Meiji-era scenery and clothing. The train will also be converted into a 3D gallery with contents that can be viewed in virtual reality, such as brocade pictures, related images and timelines.
Collectible Train Model
Those interested in collecting train models can purchase a pure gold model of Locomotive No. 1 from JR East throughout the anniversary celebration.
2022 is also a special year for the history of high-speed rail in Japan, an iconic part of Japan’s rail system and a favorite of both travelers and locals. The Tohoku Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo to the north, will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It was the first high-speed rail line built going north from the capital and connects Tokyo with other major cities, including Sendai, Morioka and Aomori. The Akita Shinkansen and the Yamagata Shinkansen, which both branch off of the Tohoku Shinkansen, will be celebrating their 25th and 30th anniversaries, respectively. The high-speed Hokuriku Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo to Nagano and Kanazawa, will also be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Along with all of this exciting news from Japan’s rail system, Japan has officially announced a policy of resuming entry by individual travelers for tourism purposes on October 11th. “Japan has been busy over the past two-and-a-half years with preparations to welcome everyone back,” JNTO President Seino Satoshi said in a recent statement. “Come see the new Japan. We eagerly await your arrival!”