2017 No.20

Railway Journey across Japan


Riding in Warmth

Text & Photos by Nakai Seiya

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In April 2014, townspeople along the Sanriku Railway Line in Iwate Prefecture finally had a reason to celebrate. After waiting three long years for repairs of immense damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake, they gathered on platforms to greet the trains, shouting a hearty “Welcome Back.” Their joyous reception reveals the role of trains in the life of a town or village.

The passenger train is at the heart of Japanese railways. Rail lines are meticulously laid to be integral to daily life, and trains carry a high volume of passengers every day. The close connection between people and trains in Japan adds something warm and inviting to a place.

Also, Japan is blessed with beautiful seasons. Each one colors the land with a different kind of beauty. Spring is the time to look at cherry blossoms; summer sights are white cloud banks; autumn comes into view ablaze with glowing leaves; and winter is seen turning the world silvery white.

Japan’s railways are richly varied: from the high-speed Shinkansen and local lines to steam locomotives, trams, and gourmet restaurant trains. Trains are enveloped by the warmth of the people riding them, and the lines are designed to harmonize with nature. Whether a frequent visitor or first-timer, be sure to experience the wonder and the joy of Japan’s railways.

Sanriku Railway along Iwate Prefecture’s Sanriku Coast

People of a fishing town joyously welcome incoming train, waving colorful “good catch” banners and handheld signs to celebrate restoration of the line to full operation.

Nakai Seiya
Railway Photographer

Born in Tokyo in 1967, he takes photos of railways from a unique perspective. His art extends beyond trains to anything related to railways, creating new genres in railway photography. His blog, which has been running since spring 2004, introduces a railway photo every day without fail. In addition to taking photos for advertisements and magazines, he is also active in many other areas that include lectures and television appearances.