Trains are very important in Japan, no doubt about that. I suspect the ‘as arteries are to our bodies, so trains are to Japan blah blah blah’ analogy has been made to death.
There’s a word and concept in Japan: otaku. It’s hard to define briefly, but it is often translated as ‘geek’ or ‘nerd.’ It’s more difficult and nuanced than that though; it carries the notion of excessive / obsessive fixation upon a hobby, pastime or interest and also the connotation of being removed from reality and / or social norms to some greater or lesser degree (picture from slight social awkwardness and a tiny dislocation with what’s going on around you to, well, sky’s the limit really). The term is often used pejoratively. Anyway, there are all sorts of subclassifications, for example (& relevant to this kind of blog – snort), camera otaku. One sizeable group are the densha otaku. Densha means train,* and one way that densha otaku-ism manifests itself is in the legions of people whose hobby is to take photos of trains as they pass by or, especially, as they pull into stations. I don’t know really, I guess it’s a form of collecting.
Anyway, I went on a steam train outing last weekend…**
Typed with a little help from, quiet deliberately, this guy.
* well, EMU really – now who’s the geek?!?
** and the astute observer will notice, mid series, where I missed the steam train departing from one rest stop and had to play catch up for a while on a regular train