For many people, life in Japan is dictated by trains. We rely on the smooth running of each train line to make it to the next one (although sometimes they leave early and suffer the consequences) and to keep us cool in summer and warm in winter as we commute. But even though many of us use trains and stations multiple times daily as we go about our business, how much do we really know about them? Here’s a quick rundown on some train and station facts you never knew you needed. (You’ll thank us when you win the local pub trivia quiz night!) Right, let’s nerd out about trains:
The Busiest Train Station in the World: Shinjuku Station
A well-known fact by now — especially among those who go through Shinjuku Station for their morning commutes — Shinjuku has the most passengers going through its doors, at an average of 3.5 million a day. In fact, out of the top 51 busiest stations in the world, all but six of them are located in Japan.
The Train Station With the Most Train Companies: Yokohama Station
Even though Shinjuku boasts the most passengers, further south in Kanagawa, Yokohama station takes the prize for the largest number of train companies connected to a station. A total of six companies use the station: JR East, Keikyu Corporation, Tokyu Corporation, Toyoko Sagami Railway (Sotetsu), Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway, and Yokohama Transportation Bureau.
Train Stations at Japan’s Extremities
The furthest north: Wakkanai Station on JR Hokkaido Soya Main Line
The furthest east: Higashi Nemuro Station on JR Hokkaido Nemuro Line
The furthest west: Naha Airport Station on Okinawa Urban Monorail, Yui Rail
The furthest south: Akamine Station on Okinawa Urban Monorail, Yui Rail
The highest station in Japan: Senjojiki Station on Komagane Ropeway (2,612m)
The lowest station in Japan: Yoshioka Station on JR Hokkaido Kaikyo Line (149.5m below sea level)
Train Stations and Lines: Size Does Matter
The longest station name: Minamiaso Mizu-no-Umareru-Sato Hakusui-Kogen Station. In Japanese, it’s 南阿蘇水の生まれる里白水高原駅 which comes to 22 characters. It shares the title with a second station that boasts a 22-character name: 長者ヶ浜潮騒はまなす公園前駅, which in romaji becomes Chojagahama-Shiosai-Hamanasu-Koenmae Station.
The shortest station name in Japan — and in the world: It only has one character for the actual station name. 津駅 — Tsu Station in Mie Prefecture.
The longest train tunnel in Japan: the Seikan Tunnel on the Kaikyo Line. The tunnel measures 53.85 kilometers. Until recently, it was the longest rail tunnel in the world, but in 2016 it was overtaken by the 57km Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland.
The shortest train tunnel in Japan: Until September 2014, Tarusawa Tunnel on the Agatsuma Line was the shortest train tunnel in Japan at 7.2 meters long. Currently, the title belongs to Kawajiri Tunnel on the Kure Line. It measures 8.7 meters long.
Japan’s longest train bridge: Dai-ichi Uekawa Bridge (3,868m), JR East Tohoku Shinkansen Line.
Japan’s highest train bridge: At a height of 100m above the ground, Seki no Sawa Bridge on Oigawa Railway Japan’s furthest train bridge drop.
The shortest train line in Japan: Kuramayama Kosaku Railway Line in Kyoto is a mere 207m long and only has two stations — Sanmon Station and Tahoto Station. This cable car-style train runs between Yuki Shrine and Kurama Temple.
The longest distance between stations: 34.3km, between Yubari and Shimukappu Stations on the JR Tokaido Sekisho Line.
The shortest distance between stations: There’s only a distance of 84m between Meganebashi Teiryujo and Seigakuen-mae Teiryujo on Tosaden Traffic’s Gomen Line.
Strangely Specific Train Superlatives
The train track section with the most tracks: The strip between Ueno and Nippori Stations in Tokyo boasts 10 different tracks.
The station with the least number of days in operation: Tsushima-no-Miya Station, on the Yosan Line. It operates a total of 2 days per year, on August 4 and 5.
Japan’s oldest station building (that’s still standing): Kamezaki Station on JR Tokai’s Taketoyo Line was built in 1886 and its wooden structure remains mostly intact.
The longest straight distance between train stations: A distance of 28.7km between Shiraoi and Numa no Hata Stations on the JR Tokaido Muroran Main Line.
The station on the steepest slope: Iinuma Station on Akechi Railroad Company (33.3‰ radian)
The steepest rail incline: Takao-san’s Tozan Railway is the proud owner of the railway with the steepest incline at a 608‰ radian (approx. 31°).
Gotten a taste for train superlatives? Check out our mini guide to the most fun and scenic train journeys in Japan for more:
Main image: Blanscape/Shutterstock