Did you know Japan has developed the world’s leading train network? While Japan is ranked 11th in the world for the total length of their railways, the 23.5 billion annual passengers is over four times that of India, the country boasting the second most rail passengers. Railways, which spread into rural areas, are a convenient means to travel anywhere, and a great way to travel slowly while admiring the scenery of the four seasons.
Recently, there are spots that have attracted the attention of foreign tourists – the shinkansen terminal stations. You can see shinkansen being cleaned at Shin-Osaka Station and Fukuoka Station, as well as Tokyo Station. While this is a familiar sight to the Japanese, foreigners are surprised at the speed of the cleaning.
Tokyo Station is particularly busy – shinkansens are turned around and depart again just 12 minutes after arriving. It takes 2 minutes for passengers to get off the shinkansen and 3 minutes for the new passengers to get on, leaving just 7 minutes for staff to clean the carriages, clean the toilets, take out the garbage, replace the seat covers, and check for things left behind on the train.
The cleaning staff, with an average age of 52, greet passengers getting off with “have a nice day” and greet new passengers getting on with “thank you for waiting”. Staff clean over 100 trains in a single day. If they greet you after they have finished cleaning, you should reply “Otsukaresamadeshita” (In this sense, meaning “thanks for your hard work”). You only have three minutes to get on the train, so don’t be tardy!
Cleaning train in Japan: