Tokyo, Japan (1994,1995)

Tokyo has two major train stations, the Tokyo Station, where the Shinkansen lines meet, and the even bigger Shinjuku Station.

Tokyo Station is excellent for observing all different types of Shinkansen trains. "Shin" means "new", and Shinkansen means "Novelty". The first Shinkansen line was opened as early as 1964, now it is referred to as Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen. The different generations of Shinkansen Trains can be seen below. They have different names on different lines. On the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen line Tokio - Hakata the trains are named "Kodama" (echo), "Hikari" (light) and "Nozomi" (wind). Kodamas, the oldest trains, serve on shorter distances and stop on many stations. Hikaris operate on longer distances and and stop at bigger stations. Nozomis are the fastest trains. The Japan Rail Pass is not valid for Nozomi trains.

Tokyo station is not at all confusing, and all the important signs are written in Japanese and English. As there is an english-speaking information center, we checked most of the important quetions there before going out to the country. And the station is very frequented by trains and always interesting for a railfan.

As there are more than 3000 trains leaving per day, a two-step waiting zone was established. In the left picture, Carola-san and Ogawa-san are waiting for the second-next train (a Kodama to Utsonomia) within the green markings for car No.12. The passengers for the coming train are waiting within the red markings. In the middle picture the passengers from the red zone are boarding, and Carola-san and Ogawa-san have moved to the red zone now. In the right picture, the train has arrived and Carola-san is just boarding the train.

Shinjuku Station is even bigger than Tokio Station. As in the word Shinkansen, "Shin" means "new", and Shinjuku ist the "New City". Shinjuku Station has more than 2 000 000 passengers per day and is probably the most frequented train station in the world. There are no Shinkansen trains that pass Shinjuku, but a lot of local trains and other train lines. Although a lot of people report that it is difficult to find one's way, I cannot confirm that. After having been there two or three times, I found it not especially difficult.