Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 22 (pp.2 & 61–63)

Photostory
Japanese Rail Travellers through the 20th Century (1)

Rinsaku Akamatsu (1878–1953) established his fame as a painter with this painting that vividly depicts rail passengers around the turn of the century. At that time, Japan had a rapidly growing network of some 2000 km of government railways and 5000 km of private lines. In 1906, most lines (except those serving local regions) were nationalized.
Photo: Rinsaku Akamatsu, Night Train (1902), Oil on Canvas, 161 x 200 cm
(Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music)

Photo: Wealthy people could afford the luxurious first-class observation carriage of the Tokyo–Shimonoseki (western tip of mainland Honshu) limited express introduced by the government railways in 1912.
Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History
(Nihon Kokuyu-Tetsudo Hyakunen Shashinshi)


Photo: Most of the Japanese population still lived in poor farming villages and many people migrated to the new frontier lands in Hokkaido seeking a better life. In 1908, the government railways started rail ferry services between mainland Honshu and Hokkaido; the ferry pier at Hakodate Port (southern end of Hokkaido) was often crowded by passengers with a one-way ticket to unknown destinations.
Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History
(Nihon Kokuyu-Tetsudo Hyakunen Shashinshi)


Japanese Rail Travellers through the 20th Century (2)

Photo: A man-powered 20-km tramway was opened in 1896 between Odawara (80 km southwest of Tokyo) and Atami, a famous hot-spa resort. The man-power operation continued until 1908 when it was replaced by small steam locomotives. In 1920, the government railways purchased the line and built a new double-track trunk line to shortcut the Tokaido main line linking Tokyo with Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Nippori Station in north Tokyo crowded with people evacuating Tokyo that had been almost completely devastated by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Night train passengers sleeping in a third-class carriage resting their heads on the so-called ‘handy’ pillow invented in 1920.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: A nouveau-riche family travelling in the first-class saloon of the Tokyo–Shimonoseki Fuji limited express. The carriage in the Momoyama style (dating from late 16th century) with an observation deck at the rear end was built in 1930.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Overcrowded Ueno Station, Tokyo's terminus for northbound trains, due to reduced passenger services during WWII.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: As WWII intensified, the number of passenger services was cut due to the increasing need for military transport. However, secondclass passengers could still enjoy sleeping cars in October 1942.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Around 1943, third-class passengers were requested to sit closer with three passengers using a seat designed for two.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)


Japanese Rail Travellers through the 20th Century (3)

Photo: Difficulties continued after WWII due to a shortage of rolling stock, most of which had been severely damaged by aerial bombing.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Many people living in large cities were forced to travel to the countryside in overcrowded trains to barter belongings for food.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: New second-class carriages with American-style reclining seats served by stewardesses were introduced on the Tokaido main-line limited express services soon after their restoration in 1949.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Due to worn-out facilities and lack of safety devices, the newly founded Japanese National Railways (JNR) suffered a series of serious train and ferry accidents in the 1950s and early 1960s. The Shiunmaru ferry sank in the Seto Inland Sea after colliding with another JNR ferry in thick fog due to lack of radar. Many schoolchildren were among the 160 people killed.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Girls enjoying travel on the Tokaido main line in an EMU built in the early 1960s specially for school excursions.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: In some remote areas in northern Japan, passengers warmed themselves at coal stoves until the mid-1970s.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Gentlemen playing go and ladies chatting in a tatami-floor carriage built in 1960 especially for group tours.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)


Japanese Rail Travellers through the 20th Century (4)

Photo: In 1958, the first EMU limited express services were introduced on the prestigious Tokaido main line. In 1960, all the loco-hauled Tokyo–Osaka limited express services had been replaced by EMUs. Instead of a firstclass observation car, the new EMU services had a first-class coach with a spacious saloon.
(Akira Hoshi Collection)
Photo: The advent of shinkansen and increasing competition with motor and air transport changed the style of rail travel dramatically. Instead of a limited number of prestigious services, shinkansen offered frequent but standard services over long distances.
(Reproduced from JNR Centennial Photo History)
Photo: Today, Tokyo passengers still suffer from overcrowded suburban trains.
(EJRCF)
Photo: But in the countryside, people can enjoy leisurely rail travel through natural scenery. Kanpai (Cheers) for the coming century!
(M. Mashima Photo Office)

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