Fifty years ago this year, the first Shinkansen bullet train shot out of a station platform in Tokyo.
Nine days before he declared the 1964 Tokyo Olympics open, Emperor Hirohito presided over a ceremony that witnessed the first white-and-blue 'bullet' train streaking from the Japanese capital at 210km/h (130mph) past Mount Fuji and on to Osaka in record time. Sprinting along a brand new, dedicated high-speed passenger track, featuring the fewest possible curves and shooting through 67 miles (108km) of tunnel and over 3,000 bridges, this was no one-off exercise to publicise the international games. The Tokaido Shinkansen (-New Trunk Line') would become not just the world's fastest and most advanced, but also its most intensely used main line railway.
Today, the latest, snake-like, 16-car Shinkansen trains leave Tokyo for Osaka up to every three minutes, each offering comfortable seats for 1,323 passengers and cruising at 270km/h (168mph). From last year, trains on the Tohuku Shinkansen, one of the six high-speed lines opened over the past fifty years, scythe through sections of Japan's mountainous landscape at 320km/h (199mph). Japan's renowned bullet trains have made domestic flying all but redundant between major cities. Not only are they very fast, frequent, spotlessly clean and on time to the second, but their carbon footprint is 16% that of cars making the same journeys according to the Japan Railway and Transport review. And since Hirohito waved that first train away from Tokyo in 1964, there have been no fatalities on the network. In 50 years, two trains have been derailed, one during an earthquake in 2004, another in a blizzard last year, yet the Shinkansen's safety record has remained unimpaired.
The average life expectancy for Japanese women rose to a record high of 86.83 years in 2014 from 86.61 years the previous year, marking the world's longest for the third straight year, government data showed Thursday. (Jiji Press)
Authorities in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward will begin to issue official documents to same-sex couples in November, following a similar move in the Japanese capital's Shibuya Ward, it was learned Wednesday. (The Japan News)
Japan's Empress Michiko is set to receive checkups on her coronary artery using computed tomography on Aug. 9 at the University of Tokyo Hospital due to suspected myocardial ischemia, the Imperial Household Agency said Wednesday. (Jiji Press)
The rainy season appears to be over in Japan's two remaining regions to the southwest and northeast, the weather agency said on Wednesday, declaring an end to the early summer wet period throughout the archipelago. (Japan Times)
Kanagawa Prefectural Police on Thursday said suffocation was the cause of death of a woman whose corpse was discovered floating off the coast of Miura City, reports TBS News (July 30). (Tokyo Reporter)
Last weekend, it was once again time for Japan's model and garage kit enthusiasts to gather for the summer iteration of Wonder Festival, held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba Prefecture. (Japan Today)
As a part of a crackdown on illegal drugs connected to musician Aska, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday announced the arrest of a boss in an organized crime group, reports the Mainichi Shimbun. (Tokyo Reporter)
It was a triple murder that shocked a nation already reeling from the crime spree by a doomsday religious cult, coming just four months after the cult's deadly nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. (Japan Today)
The pilot of a light plane that crashed into a residential area in the Tokyo suburb of Chofu on Sunday had run a pilot training firm without permission from the transport ministry, it was learned Monday. (Jiji Press)