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Maranouchi West floor layout

Tokyo West

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Hi everyone! 


So I'm currently living in Shenzhen, China for 2 years while I teach music at an international school. During our first October holiday, we got to visit Tokyo, Japan, where I fell in love with the vast and efficient system of trains and the general politeness of the people we met. I've been lucky enough to live in several countries in my life, but Japan strikes me as a shining example of what other places could achieve if they fully committed to public rail transport. 


So, I got some trains from the wonderful Kato store, as well as a pair of second hand Shinkansen (100 and 300) from Popondetta Akihabara, and enough track for a simple double loop with stations. After a couple of weekend trips to Hong Kong, I built up enough track for a much larger double loop with some buildings and sidings. Then I began building a viaduct system to run the Shinkansen. 


I based my system on the central Tokyo station, and the next commuter stop on the Yamanote line, Shimbashi. That's my simple 4 track commuter station across the street from a row of large skyscrapers (still collecting those) and behind that, the Shinkansen viaducts. That's the main diorama of the layout, and everything else is mostly for operation. I enjoy a mix of scenery and passenger operation, especially with a variety of different types of trains with different roles, Commuter, Limited Express, and long distance Shinkansen. 


Here's a basic rundown of my layout plan, and eventual additions. The layout is basically complete at this point, and what I'm going to add are staging tracks and a connecting ramp between the upper and lower lines which will make the operation more fun. 


I began by thinking about the kind of operation I most enjoyed, with commuter trains making regular stops and shuffling back and forth, and ducking away to let faster express trains by. Once I had that idea down, I started designing the scene I wanted. I particularly liked the spot in Tokyo, the Maranouchi skyline seen from the imperial gardens where the trains are running in between the skyscrapers. The main diorama is loosely based on that.


Tokyo station at the moment is represented by a single-level 4-track terminus, and a lovely old Faller station kit built by my father in the late 1980s! I thought it a decent stand-in for the gorgeous red-brick Maranouchi station building. 


My apartment has a spare bedroom which we mostly don't use - so it was perfect as a spot for a return loop. 


The Shinkansen line is essentially a single track loop folded into a dumbell shape with a return loop at each end. I've tried to keep the 'driving on the left' system as far as possible - so familiar to me from designing OO British layouts for so long. Since I'm focusing on Tokyo amd Shimbashi, I'm focusing on the JR West Shinkansen, which have always been my favorite - the 100, 300, 500, and 700 series. I finally got an E7 though. The blue and gold is so pretty, and since the line to Kanazawa will eventually link up with Osaka, I consider it an honorary West Shinkansen, even though it leaves Tokyo via Omiya. 


The way I run this layout at present, trains leave Tokyo station and cross to the inner track. Eventually they terminate and cross back to the outer track in the other direction, and terminate back at Tokyo.


More details and structures to come! I had a frustrating period of trying to do a city pavement base for my Maranouchi scene with thick card - which bent up and wouldn't lie flat, even with metal rulers glued to it. In the end I gave up and went with thin card which sits flat much better. 


I'll keep updating it as I can! I have an order of track and structures on the way which will spruce up the Tokyo Station a little. 


Also coming are the two wonderful Odakyu Romancecars - 7000 and 10000 series, both in wine red color. Favorites of mine from Microsoft Train Simulator back in the day!


All best! Keep 'em rolling, train fans!
















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On 4/3/2020 at 1:27 AM, tridentalx said:

Very impressive. Are you going to leave it laid out or will you have to put it away regularly?


It stays out for weeks at a time - I designed it to be easy to get around - i .e. no buildings in hallways, spaces for feet when I want to pick up the Nintendo Switch 😂

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So I got some amazing papercraft kits for Japanese buildings from Chinese eBay. They're in the Tokyo style, and many are clearly modeled on Akihabara gaming/Otaku buildings like the Sega Center, the Bic Camera store, etc. Others are more general apartment towers and office buildings. It's really helping my city scene to have the lively, colorful feel that Tokyo really has any time I visit. The MIINA Mall is based on some of the buildings at Machida JR station, and has a lovely little JR entrance complete with ticket machines and barriers! I intend to light a couple of these buildings, so I left holes in the important places. To test I put my phone flashlight inside - worked pretty well!


Something else I really wanted was a section of a city park. There are so many I've been to in Tokyo that are lovely - the park around the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya, and the Shinjuku Gyoen park. Both are close enough to JR stations that you can sometimes hear the announcements in the distance. I also wanted to include a Shinto shrine area since those are some of my favorite places to visit. The Tomytec diorama Shinto Shrine I got at Popondetta will work very nicely. 


I started with a layer of PVC board, a roll of grass, and about 50 trees. I also got some wire cherry blossoms which really help the look.


I glued the grass sections down over a layer of grey card and began drilling holes to glue the trees into, trying to create a border of trees around the edge with more open space in the middle.


I have a regular challenge with my flat boards (whether cardboard or PVC) of the edges warping and curling up over time. As far as I can tell it has something to do with the temperature on the top being different to the floor, causing curling. Our air conditioner has to be on more or less constantly in Shenzhen, it's basically a tropical climate here! With thinner material like cardstock, the weight of buildings seems to be enough to flatten it out, but the park was nearly semicircular by the morning I finished it. After a half hour of despair, my wonderful better half suggested Command strips used for mounting pictures to the wall. They're part adhesive, part velcro, and hella-strong. It seems to have worked! The adhesive comes right off, so no need to worry about it messing up the floorboards. However, I'm going to rethink my plans to make the whole city pavement out of the PVC material, since the curling is such a problem. Anyone else got any ideas?


I bought a few more detail items, more different shaped trees, a few playground pieces, and stuff to make some bushes and plantings. 


It turns out that while China isn't big into model trains yet (though I have great hope for the future of the hobby here) there's tonnes of stuff available if you search for 'shapan' (sand table). Basically it's miniature trees and buildings, and ground foam used for making military dioramas. They're also used by real estate firms to make models of their giant apartment complexes! 


That's all for now folks, until next time.















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nice park! Your floor setup gives a lot of great room to model stuff like this. Love your modular scenery.


i wonder if those are Jio world structures. They did a bunch of them with printed paper laminated to foamcore. MTP carried them for a while, but I haven’t seen them on ebay much lately. Also wonder if it might be someone in China getting some of the Japanese print cardstock kits and just building them to sell prebuilt. I know ive seen those before and I think it’s a Japanese papercraft, but can’t find the link right now.


yep a huge amount of scenery materials from the chinese architectural modeling, luckily at 1/150. Trees can be a crap shoot thru ebay sometimes but generally good and bulk sets usually come in boxes and not smashed, I’ve tried a few nicer individual trees and sadly each was shipped in a plastic bag and arrived flattened and mangled, destroyed. The architectural figures are nice to fill in crowds to bulk them up and put nicer figures along the edge. Also great for inside structures or further back where you don’t get close looks. Also great to put in trains, vehicles (get our your nippers!) and structures where you just need a shape usually to make the effect work. Painting is a bit crude and you can spruce them up some with fine brush and even markers and paint pen a but. At down to a yen or two each can’t beat the price! 

the cars are again great for fill in. All sort of generic larger sedans and vans, but super for filling a parking structure. like the figures they are more representational that perfect models like tomytecs. Some are cheap as I think they come from seconds or runs with old moulds with a lot of flashing and just poor moulding, but usually can get spiffed up a little and they come apart for repainting. Also some benches, chairs and such around as well as a lot of lighting poles. Beware some of the sizes of the lighting does not match the scale really with regular street lights, they tend to run a bit large. I’ve been getting small orders of some of the ground foams and they seem of good quality, some are a little strong in color but nice as not quite the same colors we get here from us suppliers so more range and stuff to mix in etc. nice having more options.


one chinese seller on ebay made runs of a bunch of custom architectural model at n scale. They are well done with CNC and laser cut and professionally built. I’m guessing it’s a custom architectural modeling shop that was keeping staff busy between jobs. The interior floors all slide out of the wall shell so you can furnish floors and light if you want as the floors are attached to a central elevator core that you can run wiring up. I’ve got three of these and they are really nice. They are just a tad small on scale I think but still well done.







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