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Japan's hardcore train fans accused of going off the rails

By Tomohiro OSAKI

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"Come over to my place and check out my thousands of photos of trains! It'll be fun!"

9 ( +14 / -5 )

IMO Trainspotting in and of itself is a harmless hobby. Kind of like stamp collecting. Just at least stamps can be valuable depending on how rare they are. I have a life though so was never interested in either.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

"Come over to my place and check out my thousands of photos of trains! It'll be fun!"

Go back to the sport then pal. I have travelled the world as a railway enthusiast. Leave these people to enjoy their hobby.

13 ( +22 / -9 )

Fortunately I have mostly seen the good kind of fans, but a couple of times I have seen the trouble they can cause. Probably the least think anybody wants is to have an altercation on the platform or an accident happening because of someone too fanatic to be reasonable.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Taking photos is harmless enough in itself, but some of this lot think nothing of climbing over people's gardens, leaving cars where they like on main roads, and kicking up a fuss whenever the train company decides to shut down a line that noone uses and costs a fortune to keep running. Lots of men love their girlfriends but that doesn't mean you can just walk up a private house and take her photo next to their rose bush. Once upon a time, Japanese trains probably looked good along the entire line, but now there are only so many places you can photograph them without some rusty shed or concreted embankment or modern-looking something spoiling your shot. This leads to photogenic spots becoming like shrines to the toritetsu, regardless of whose land it is.

That video from last year of the gaijin guy photobombing the trainspotters on a bike is hilarous. "You! You must pay us compensation! Compensation!"


12 ( +14 / -2 )

The Japanese do love their trains. It's one of the things I first noticed when I moved here and saw a large group of Japanese (mostly men) waiting near an old bridge to take photos of a vintage train that was a few minutes away. It was like a group of fans waiting to see a rock star.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I’ve done gone trainspotting a couple of times and enjoyed. I’m always surprised at how many enthusiasts there are. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it as long as everyone displays good manners and doesn’t break any laws. I’ve never seen anyone behave badly, although I’ve only gone 2 or 3 times.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

How about using drones?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Nothing wrong with indulging in your hobby so long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself in public.

How about using drones?

Japan's very uptight about the use of drones. I doubt they'd allow any to fly near the tracks and trains.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Never saw a train until I was 19, so very exciting. Especially to use the 18 kip ticket and travel around the countryside. Especial one or two carriage trains or ones that have kerosine heaters where people boil water for tea. Went on one in Rural Niigata where there was actually a free nabe for passengers. Shinkansen for me is like flying first class.

my only gripe is that in Sakura season, by my house there is a tiny bridge that gets packed with middle aged guys, their tripods blocking the road. I live here but they look at me angrily because they have to move for me.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Some of these toritetsu cut flowering cherry trees by the rail tracks to get a photo of a train!!!!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Props to this JR official for seeing value in these hobbyists:

"Toritetsu can actually be counted on to take beautiful pictures of our trains and promote them on the internet," said Yusuke Yamamoto, an official with subsidiary JR East Start UP Co.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

factchecker - Go back to the sport then pal. I have travelled the world as a railway enthusiast. Leave these people to enjoy their hobby.

Well, somebody got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. Did you read the article stating the trouble between these enthusiasts (geeks)? This goes far beyond a hobby.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I like these guys. They make for some great unintentional comedic YouTube videos.

Getting angry at people blocking the train, picking fights with the other otaku or getting yelled at by security.

Fun stuff!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

"Go back to the sport then pal. I have travelled the world as a railway enthusiast. Leave these people to enjoy their hobby."

Trainspotting in Scotland in the early 1960s all steam, then gradually (sadly) replaced by diesel.

I love the variety of trains (in Kyushu mainly) .

A harmless hobby for 99% of enthusiasts. Level crossing gates are where I like to photograph: safe and not crowded.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Typical internet news outlet blowing up things that happen to actually make it seem a bigger problem than it really is. There’s always a “MINORITY” who do stupid stuff.

I wonder why they look angrily at Rodney?

is it your bridge? Are you walking infront of their camera lens?

is it too hard to say “sumimasen? Or good morning?

im sure there is space for everyone!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"Toritetsu is a culture, and I hope its image will change,"

Yeah... ummm... no.

While it's not my cup of tea and I say to each their own, let's keep it to their own. Assaulting people for getting in the way of their 'perfect photos' should be met with jail time. Period. Better yet, confiscate all their train photos, equipment, and bar them from accessing the stuff online, like you might kiddy porn to a convicted sex criminal who engages in that kind of thing.

"Japan's railway system has long inspired envy around the world, with its famed punctuality, cutting-edge technology and meticulous timetables."

That's just a toritetsu talking, same way some people here will insist they know what you want to see and do, and how Japan and it's sights and culture SHOULD be in the eyes of the world. Outside of a small number of train otakus worldwide, and/or people who have lived or traveled here, not many know or care one wit about it. What's more, I'm sorry, but it's not all the punctual in the grand scheme of things. Sure, JR will force a kid to drive at speeds that force the train to derail and kill many, like in Amagasaki, or force people who are late by a few minutes or miss the platform stop line by a few meters to do menial tasks for a year, but at the JR station near me the trains are late EVERY day. Yesterday the local trains were delayed due to "strong winds", despite express trains going down the same line being unaffected. A drop of spit means them stopping for torrential rains, and lest we forget all the jumpers.

I remember about 14 years ago when returning home there was some special "orihime/hikkoboshi" train event in the neighboring town on the 7th of July, and these train otakus had swarmed the platform and set up their own line to stop people from walking. I started to step over one of the pylons and one of these fools told me to go back, go down the stairs, and exit on the other side of the platform. I was tired and didn't appreciate this self-proclaimed (it wasn't the train line that set it up, it was them) "no-go zone" and stepped over it anyway. The guy shoved me, knocking over what must have been a VERY expensive camera with zoom lens, tripod, the works. He started screaming and pulling his hair, and the station staff quickly came (other otaku seemed concerned, but more concerned about returning to their camera lenses or screens). Instead of doing anything about the unruly mob, the station staff just grabbed my arm and said I had better hurry and leave.

So, again, let them do as they please, until they are harassing and/or assaulting others.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I wonder why they look angrily at Rodney?

I have almost 500 photos of Japanese trains, as well as trains in SE Asia, Europe, UK, China.

I respect the local culture and the beauty. Not all the guys on my local bridge are angry, but the ones with two or three tripods with massive lens about 1-2 feet long…they think it’s their right. Maybe I’m a foreigner diving a car in Japan?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

What explains these obsessions with utterly banal and shallow aspects of society? This seems like a particularly Japanese thing - this obsession with meaningless minutia.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"...Takahashi, whose fondest obsession is the EF66 electric locomotive model, which he describes as his "idol".

I truly enjoy spending the day at the Kyoto Railway Museum. And I love riding on some of those old train lines with a single track and/or one car trains, winding through neighborhoods, practically in peoples backyards. I'm also looking forward to riding one of the luxury overnight trains someday as well. Trains can be quite cool.

But, to have one's fondest obsession be a specific model train car, considering it your idol? That's just nuts.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I just looked it up..

"Toritetsu" is Japanese for "never had a girlfriend.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I won't make fun of their hobby if they start to behave and show some respect to others.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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