Japan's Most Controversial Otaku - Train Fans Deep Dive

Japan's Most Controversial Otaku - Train Fans Deep Dive

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Every few years, something about  Japanese trains seems to go viral online,   but none of those stories ever  got the same reach as this video.  Now, if you don't understand Japanese  or know much about the train scene here,   then I'm sure you are very confused right now.  Let me explain. This video is sponsored by my   Japan ebook travel guide, "Beyond The Tourist  Trail" (more on that later). If there's one   thing Japan has become famous for overseas,  it's their trains. They're always on time,   they're super clean, and there is a huge  variety of them. Oh my gosh, let's go! 

In a country that's become somewhat famous  for its super fans, otherwise known as   otaku, it should come as no surprise that  there is also a thriving train scene here.  In Japan, they're known as tetsudo fans or tetsudo  otaku, which translates roughly to "railway fan."   "Otaku" is kind of a catch-all phrase that  describes people with consuming interests,   particularly in anime, manga, video games,  or computers. It's had a negative connotation   in the past, but more and more these days, it  seems like people are starting to use it just   as a way to describe something that they're  really passionate about. In this 2019 study,   research showed that of the nearly 850 people  asked, the four most common otaku in Japan are   fans of anime, airplanes, manga, and trains. And  if you're looking at just the male population,  

trains are ranked as the second most common group  of fans. This research was, however, conducted   by an airline travel agency, so it's not the most  reliable source, but it is the only one that we've   got, so we're just going to go off that for now. Now, of course, there are train fans in every   country. There are countless YouTube channels,  blogs, meetups, all dedicated to different models,   sounds, merchandise, and toys. We've got a lot  of expat Great British people who come over,   and they recognize it straight away. You  know, they've got the colors right, you've  

got the greens right. But it's been said that  in Japan, the rail fans can be on another level.  In Japan's train scene, there's said to be  over 35 different subcategories of rail fans,   including standouts such as chibi-tetsu,  which is young fans in training, mama-tetsu,   which is for all the moms who take their kids  to see the trains and have become somewhat of   a fan themselves, and onkyo-tetsu, which  are fans of the sounds that trains make.  Now, I'm not too sure how common or  official any of these categories are,   but the three main categories that most rail  fans would fall under would be nori-tetsu,   people who enjoy riding the trains; people  who like studying the train timetables;   and the one that most people think of when they  think of rail fans in Japan, the tori-tetsu,   the ones who enjoy taking pictures of trains. Now, personally for me, trains have never   really sparked my interest in that way. I've  never felt any kind of pull or desire to learn   more about them. But that was until I learned  all about Dr. Yellow. So, I've already made a   whole YouTube short about Dr. Yellow, so go  and watch that later. But a quick rundown:  

there's only a couple of them, they're super  rare, they run tests and diagnose problems on   the Shinkansen tracks in Japan, and it makes  me uncharacteristically excited. I found it,   Dr. Yellow, looking great. It's  really like- omg it’s leaving! There are so many kids; it's really, really  cute. Like all these dads and moms bringing   their kids to come and see the train. It's  very endearing, it's really, really lovely,   actually. Yeah, it really is like meeting  a local celebrity. There are just so   many people lining up to take photos and  videos, including myself. It's very cool. 

Rail fans in Japan range from young to old, and  Japan's extensive list of amazing trains means   that there's always some new model or event to  look forward to. It could be a reason for why the   rail fandom is so strong here. The trains are just  really, really good. What do you guys think about   trains in Japan? They're awesome, amazing, access  here is phenomenal. The quality is phenomenal,   everything's on time. But another reason  that the tori-tetsu is well known is because   this particular group of fans has been in  the news for some not so great reasons.  There have been news reports of  tori-tetsu trespassing to get photos,   cutting down trees on private property to  get unobstructed views, blocking the pathway,   and harassing people on the streets for  accidentally getting in the way of their shot. 

Which brings me to the video that  you saw earlier: This was apparently   a very rare train and a man on his bicycle  turned around the corner at the same time   as the train, thus ruining their pictures. It absolutely blew up online and it was turned  into a number of memes, artworks, and recreations.  The man in the video, his name was Dylan, and according to him, he says that it was all just  an accident and a misunderstanding. That he turned  the corner on his bike and, surprise, there's a group of photographers there. Um, personally,  

I don't know if I really buy that reason. It's  like he's got his hand in the air, and he's a   local from the area as well. So personally,  I don't really buy it, but that is besides   the point. The point is that rail fans in Japan  can get extremely passionate about their hobby. 

Toritetsu have been around for years in Japan,   but with a sudden increase in decent camera  gear, the barrier to entry has gotten lower. Another reason that's been said to explain the  increase in bad behavior is that these days,   trains in Japan retire less frequently. A retiring  train's last run is often seen as a big event   that many people would go out to shoot. So now,  there are just larger crowds at each location,   leading to an increasingly competitive  environment. Some companies have started   to offer paid opportunities to shoot rare  retired trains in Japan, like J.R West,   that once charged fans a hundred dollars for  a private photo shoot with their trains. There  

were a hundred tickets for sale, but apparently,  they sold out in under five minutes. One person   said when interviewed, "I've seen some nuisance  behavior, but I think it's in the tori-tetsu's   true nature to enjoy taking the photos quietly.  For a photographer like me who really doesn't   like the brutally competitive atmosphere that's  developed at other train shooting spots, it's   really nice to have photo sessions where I can  calmly take my pictures, even if I have to pay."  I think another possible explanation for the  general public's recent dislike of this fandom is   that it's a very public hobby. Any other hobbies  that you've got, like anime, manga, movies,   sports, whatever it is, most people are free to  just enjoy those things at home, by yourself,   away from the public eye. But taking pictures of  trains, you have to be outside amongst the crowds,   amongst people that are just trying to get  to work on time. You can definitely see the  

same disliking influencers who film TikToks in  public. It's also worth noting that the link   between a love for trains and autism has been well  researched and documented. Everybody is different,   but for someone with autism, they might find that  the repetitive, predictable, and rhythmical nature   of trains can be incredibly calming. One article  states that the interest is more about distracting   their constantly busy, overloaded minds with  stimuli, similar to how some people may be   calmed by watching and listening to thunderstorms.  Of course, not everyone who loves trains falls   into this category, but it is worth noting.  I'll leave a link to the article down below.  So, going back to the guys in that first video,  personally, I feel like some of the reactions   from some of the really hardcore train fans in  these situations are a little bit over the top.  

Um, but I'm definitely starting to see how this  kind of competitive environment can really create   a high-stress atmosphere. Does that now mean  that they are free to harass people in public and   become a nuisance? Of course not. At the end of  the day, we're all in control of our own actions   and reactions. But I do think that, like most  things online that have a really bad reputation,   it's usually just a very loud minority  that's ruining it for the rest of them.   I truly think that most people just want  to enjoy taking pictures of the trains.  So, Chris and I are in kind of Oita prefecture,   and we've set up a little camera on the  tripods here—Oh! Just kidding. Oh Chris! 

Stop!  There's only one train that  goes through here anyway.   There's a shot that we both want to get, so we're  researching on Google Maps, trying to figure out   what time it leaves the previous station, where  it's going to end up at this station. You're   trying to figure out roughly what time it's going  to come through the tunnel, and it's kind of fun   to figure out the timing of it and the best angle.  Yeah, it's like a mission, like a challenge. You   can kind of see the excitement aspect, especially  if there's a rare train coming through or,   you know, a particular shot that you've  been wanting to get or something like that. It's also Hannah's birthday today, happy birthday! It's my birthday today, yay! The tension is killing me.

Let's go! How is it? Yeah, pretty cool! Yeah,   oh, very nice! Chris and I also just randomly  came across these real-life Thomas the Tank   Engine trains that actually run on the tracks.  Oh my gosh, let's go! We bought ourselves a   little platform ticket for 150 yen. *hiccup* I've got the hiccups so bad right now. I  was holding it in, I was like, yeah, I did it!  Chris and I also went to the largest  Railway Museum in Japan, which luckily   for us was in Kyoto, just to see what it's  all about, learn a bit more about trains,   and meet a few more fans. The place is massive!  Even the building is modeled after a train. There  

are so many train carriages inside the building.  It's massive, it's so big, it's overwhelming.  As a kid, I was always into big machines,  and as I've grown, the more I've become   enamored with public transit, but also,  I'm a tech guy interweaving tech into   trains and then innovating that into public  transit systems. Also, like the mechanics,   yeah, the trains, the designs, especially coming  here where you can see all the different kinds,   they represent history. Obviously, you can learn  it from textbooks or the internet, but I think   coming to Japan and actually experiencing a piece  of Japanese history for yourself is really cool. 

Chris and I are now out towards Fuji area now. I thought you just farted! There's a spot here that's apparently  quite famous because the Shinkansen   flies right past it, so you can get  a shot of Fuji and the Shinkansen,   and there's a lot of wildflowers, I guess,  just growing in the field in front of it.  That is pretty cool. The sound it makes as it  flies down the tracks is actually very cool.  Did you get it? Oh, cool!  Yeah, good job.

So, even though up until this point in  my life, trains have never really taken   center stage in my eyes, in researching this  video and meeting lots of different people,   I am really, really, really starting to  see the appeal. And now, I have a full   list of trains that I want to see in person and  maybe even ride on. So, let's talk about them!  Starting with the Aru Ressha, this  whimsical-looking train looks like it's   straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Next up is the Sunrise Express, an absolute fridge   of a train that actually has a really beautiful  interior. It's an overnight train, which I would   love to take in Japan. I've taken many buses, but  no trains, and now I'm really invested in trains. 

Next on the list is the Limited Express Fuji  Excursion. It goes around Mount Fuji, which   I obviously love. It doesn't have anything really  special inside, but I just think the outside of it   looks pretty cool. And then we have the Twilight  Express Mizukaze, which I love for more reasons   than just the name. It looks like it's got one  of those American football helmet things on. I   don't know, it just looks cool. Gladiator, that's  what I was looking for. It looks like a gladiator! 

Quick update: We looked up the Twilight Express  Mizukaze online. It looks beautiful inside,   by the way. There's a suite with your own  bedroom and bathroom, and even a bath on   board. Crazy! We looked up the price, and for  one room for two people, I'm pretty sure it's  

like eight thousand dollars per person. So,  I guess it would forever have to be a dream.  We also have the Chiba Monorail, which is  obviously amazing because it's underneath instead   of on top of the monorail. I just think that's  really cool. Next up, we have the Nankai Airport   Express Train, which I think goes to Osaka  Airport. It's crazy because I go to Osaka   Airport all the time, and I'm pretty sure I've  never seen this train before. Or maybe I have,  

and I just wasn't interested at the time.  But now, I am. It just looks cool. It looks   like a freaking gladiator. How good! And last but certainly not least, there's   this absolute beast of a train. I don't know if  you can even call it a train. It's... I don't   think people actually ride it. It's just a snow  plow that removes all of the snow during heavy   snow seasons in Hokkaido. I don't think I have to  explain why I think it's cool. I just really want   to take a picture of it, along with Dr. Yellow  going past Mount Fuji. That would be perfect. 

But yeah, those are my favorite trains. Thank  you for listening to my presentation. If you're   a rail fan yourself and plan to visit Japan,  then you're in for an absolute treat. I highly   recommend checking out one of the many Railway  Museums in Japan, especially the Kyoto Railway   Museum, which is the largest and newest  of them all. It's very family-friendly,   and I think kids will especially love it. If you'd like to do some Dr. Yellow hunting,   it may take a bit of extra effort, but  it's surprisingly more common than you'd   think. Dr. Yellow passes through Tokyo, Osaka,  and Hakata stations a few times a month. I will  

link a website down below that predicts the times  it's going to arrive. It's in Japanese, but if you   use Google Chrome, it will automatically  translate it to your desired language.  Viewing Dr. Yellow from the station platform is  completely fine, as long as you don't step past   the yellow line or try to touch the train  in any way. Just enjoy it from a distance,  

take some photos. And I also have this  photo of Dr. Yellow that I took last year,   along with Chris's photo of the Shinkansen  in front of Mount Fuji, both available as   a print on my website. There's a link in the  description if you would like to purchase them.  If you'd like to ride any of the Thomas the  Tank Engine trains in Shizuoka Prefecture,   I'll leave a link to the schedule on the  website down below. It's in Japanese, so again,  

use Google Chrome. There are a number of other  rare trains in Japan, but those timetables can   be a little difficult to navigate if you don't  speak Japanese, unfortunately. But if you know   some resources about where people can find more  information on trains in Japan, please link them   in the comments down below for other people. Aside from that, if you're coming to Japan  

and would like to get off the beaten track  and experience some truly unique things,   I think you're going to absolutely love my  travel guide, "Beyond The Tourist Trail,"   which is available now on my website. "Beyond  The Tourist Trail" is my e-book travel guide   with over 150 pages of 20 top hidden gems and 100+  extra off-the-beaten-track locations. I've laid   out all the research for you, every way to get  there with trains or a rental car, created maps,   itineraries, and even translated entire bus  schedules. So, there's no guessing required.  I have been living in Japan for over eight years  now, and I've personally traveled to every single   hidden gem listed in this travel guide, sometimes  multiple times. So, I know that my advice is   accurate, realistic, and thorough. If you're  coming to Japan and want to avoid the crowds,  

explore, and go further than the average tourist  does, then you're going to love my travel guide,   "Beyond The Tourist Trail," available  now on my website. There's a link for   it in the description down below. Thank you so much for the support!   And with that, that is the end of this video. I really hope you liked it. I thoroughly  enjoyed creating it and diving deep into this   topic. It's very interesting to me, and it's just  really fun to discover all these new things that   happen right around us, all the time, in Japan.  I'm excited to keep making more videos like this,   so I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what  you thought in the comments down below. Please  

subscribe if you're not already. I know that most  people who watch my videos are not subscribed,   so if you've watched it all the way to the end,  I would appreciate it if you subscribed and   a like and that is all. Thank you so much  for watching, and I'll see you guys next time. Bye!

2023-06-27 11:52

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