Limited Express

Paging Captain Nemo: Japan’s Distinctive Train Designs

As I’ve mentioned before, Japanese trains are often visually quite distinctive. The Nankai Railway’s 50000 series rapi:t is one of the most distinctive, and evokes images of Victorian engineering and Jules Verne science fiction novels. It operates as an airport shuttle service between Osaka and Kansai International airport (about a 30-minute trip). According to wikipedia it was designed by an architect working with the theme of “outdated future”, which suggests that he was trying to create the “futuristic” look found in early twentieth-century works such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Whatever the intent, the result is distinctive and unique, and very far from the utilitarian design that characterizes most western trains (or other machinery).

Japanese Trains

It occurs to me that I’ve been writing about my layout for over six months, and haven’t really mentioned the central reason for it: to run Japanese trains in a setting that evokes their natural urban landscape. In particular, I’m focused on contemporary Japanese passenger trains operated by JR East in and around Tōkyō. That may seem rather narrowly specialized, but Japan has such a variety of passenger trains that it really isn’t.