Fast Track to Success

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Japan’s economic recovery after WWII was brought about by several factors, like its close relationship with United States, its industrial strength and the attitude of collectivism among its people, companies and government. The Japanese government gave its total support to the business community. Unlike other countries whose business entities had to sell stocks and bonds to raise capital to finance their expansion, Japan’s government-owned bank loaned money to Japanese business establishments to hasten technology development.  Japan’s gross national product grew at a fast rate of 10% after the war till the 1960’s, surpassing West Germany, whose GNP grew by 6 percent annually, the fastest growing economy in Europe at that time.

Japan’s modernization came in early, starting from the Meiji government which had a vision to turn Japan into an industrial state… and moved quickly, as it readily started to build the infrastructures necessary to strengthen its economic activities.  It captured the important roles of communication and transportation for its economic growth – faster mobility is needed for a stronger economy.  It connected Tokyo to Yokohama port in 1872 and since then aggressively built railways that by 1900, Japan had already around 15,000 miles of track.

Now, Japan has the world’s busiest rail network. Greater Tokyo alone has 14.6 billion train commuters annually. Given this volume of commuters, Japan still holds the record for the world’s most punctual and reliable trains.

Majority of Japan’s railway network is operated by Japan Railways (JR), which was divided into JR East and JR West – the rest , around 30%, are operated by numerous local train companies.

A dynamic nation faces a rising mobility demand. Therefore, some fast moving trains have been introduced. Japan pioneered the Shinkansen or bullet train which began operating on Oct. 1, 1964. It is also being operated by Japan Railways. Shinkansen has been continuously upgrading – from the first Shinkansen trains with a speed of 130mph to its present trains with a speed of 198mph.

Japan’s maglev, a train that moves without touching the ground through the use of magnetic levitation, has broken the world speed record by hitting 375mph.

Japan has the world’s most punctual trains so it’s very rare that a train will be delayed however, in the event that there’s a minute or two delay, an apology will be heard on the speakers…and if the delay takes longer like five minutes, they will issue delay certificates to the passengers which they can use as an excuse for reporting late for work or classes.

Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station, with more or less 3.5 million people using the station each day. It has 36 platforms and over 200 exits and serviced by 12 lines being operated by 5 companies.P1120430

A wild crossing! We are in the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing! So many people crossing in all directions through the intersection!      

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Around 2,500 people cross the intersection at the same time during rush hour! Such a chaotic sight with a high concentration of glaring advertisements.   P1120604

A huge number of pedestrians outside Shibuya Station make Shibuya Crossing a popular photo and television/movie filming spot. It has been featured in many films like Lost in Translation and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. P1120621

Shibuya is a bustling labyrinth of fashion, entertainment and commerce. The popular department stores, restaurants and discount chains are just around the Shibuya train station, like this Loft which has seven floors of funky household goods. P1120616

In Shibuya Station, the third busiest train station in Tokyo, there is a famous statue of an incredible dog named Hachikō. This bronze statue is an expression of admiration and respect for an exceptional loyalty of a dog to his best friend, Professor Hidesaburō Ueno, who took a golden brown male Akita dog into his home and gave him a name Hachikō. They had developed such a sweet bond that rain or shine, Hachikō would see the professor off and wait for his return from work at the Shibuya station each day…until that one dismal day in 1925 when Professor Ueno didn’t show up in the station. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage while at work in the University.

Oh, it’s so heartbreaking to think about this sad scene…Hachikō watching each passing train, waiting and hoping to see his best friend step off the train. He did this everyday, at the exact time when the professor’s train was due at the station, for almost ten years.

Train commuters noticed Hachikō and realized he was waiting in vain for the dead professor so they gave him treats that he could eat during his wait. Words about Hachikō spread that he became a symbol of family loyalty for the Japanese people. In 1934, this bronze statue was erected and Hachikō himself was present during its unveiling. A monument was also built for him next to Professor Ueno’s grave in Aoyama cemetery and his remains have been preserved at the National Science Museum of Japan. He has also other statues, one in front of Akita Dog Museum and the other outside the Odate Station… but the most revered one is this bronze statue at Shibuya Station, at the very spot where he would faithfully wait for his beloved best friend’s return. P1120607

To know more about rail passes and train routes, please visit:

http://www.acprail.com/rail-passes/japan-rail/bullet-train

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