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I wasn't sure where to put this so apologies if it's in the wrong place.


I'm looking for books, websites (not wikipedia) or youtube videos maybe that are English language based. My end aim is to start writing some articles on Japanese rail history, to start with it'll be to go in the Club magazine for the model rail club I'm a part of, as most of the members have little to 0 knowledge of Japanese railways, but like to learn about other rail networks. I started by writing an article or two on Japanese trains I'd ran at the club and followed up with an article on Shinjuku Station and how busy it is. 


THE PROBLEM I face is that often when I'm looking at stuff on google, I get the same like 8 websites that tell you very little and are aimed at tourists, for example I'm trying to write something on the Yamanote line and it's history, but most of the information I find is the same 2 paragraphs written and posted on different websites, so I'm looking for stuff that is from a citable source (hence not wikipedia). 


If anyone can point me in the way of some good resources I'd greatly appreciate it 🙂 

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we have this topic on English publications on Japanese rail that may be helpful.



maybe @200系 has some other suggestions. 

couple of my favorites 


Old Man Thunder: Father of the Bullet Train by Bill Hosokawa

History of the creation of the shinkansen about Sogo the JNS president that was the main force in the shinkansen development. (ISBN-13: 978-0965958004)


nice story behind the creation of the shinkansen system. You can usually find the book used or check your interlibrary loan


Early Japanese Railways 1853-1914: Engineering Triumphs That Transformed Meiji-era Japan by Dan Free

Excellent book with lots of the politics and economics of early rail development in japan and nice early photos, very dense book! (ISBN-13: 978-4805312902)

really great early history of rail in japan. I’m hoping he rolls out more volumes! But at the detail he goes at things would bog down quick as the system expands rapidly!


Hope the topic above can get you started.



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Try MDS books. Currently lists three books.


Japanese Steam in the 1970s    https://www.mdsbooks.co.uk/japanese-steam-in-the-1970s.html


For publication late 2023.


Japan's Railways- Hokkaido to Chubu    https://www.mdsbooks.co.uk/japan-s-railways-hokkaido-to-chubu.html


Japan's Railways Kinki to Kyushu   https://www.mdsbooks.co.uk/japan-s-railways-kinki-to-kyushu.html



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Use Japanese Wikipedia.   


List of railway companies in Japan  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_railway_companies_in_Japan#


Two ways to get to Japanese Wikipedia. 

1. Copy  the Japanese script and right click to Search Google for example  JR北海道   You may have to add ja to the Google Search so you get Japanese Wikipedia rather than Chinese Wikipedia.  This should also get you the official railway page.






2. Enter words directly into Google Translate.   Basic terms work very well. But many railway names are nicknames. For Hiroden I have to enter the full legal name. Hiroshima Electric Railway. Also what looks like English might actually be Romaji and Google does not translate.


Here is JR Group    https://www.google.com/search?q=JRグループ&rlz=1C1GCEA_enCA749CA749&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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Awesome, thank you both for those recommends 🙂 I'll have a look into those books, I can use wikipedia to help, but one day I may do more than just submit things to the model railway club in which case, I can't currently use wikipedia as it's not a citeable source. 


One day I might get my butt in gear and learn how to do translations and just buy some Japanese language books. 

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I haven’t found the same level of book publications that you could find in the UK for example. 


Neko Publishing or Mook have some very good magazines with some great articles and photographs but tend to be composed of overviews of certain locomotives or locations, rather than a general history. They are also all in Japanese but using phone camera with Google translate has got pretty good, with the odd strange word. 

Although “magazines” they are quite expensive at about £10-£15 an issue but are printed on high quality paper and have some fantastic photographs. 


鉄道車輌詳細写録 ~機関車編~

Detailed Transcript of Railway Vehicles - Neko



JNR Era magazine -Neko



Steam Locomotive EX - Mook



Electric Locomotive EX -Mook 



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For English...hmm...


Japanese History on YouTube via @JapaneseHistory  (English)


Hamasa-san's Tokyo Railway Labyrinth: https://tokyorailwaylabyrinth.blogspot.com/


But I don't think I've really seen much in English.... 


Sad really considering all the recent NEWER sources being released every month in Japan.  Right now in Japan, one of the best sources is BS Fuji's "Tetsudo the Project" which is a bi-weekly DVD magazine/DVD release.  And their "Tetsudo Densetsu" which they broadcast: https://www.bsfuji.tv/tetsudo_densetsu/ and "Let's Torekatsu" https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGhvZj4DNilaqDY0aDqznd9uWwgOhhUZp


All the best!

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bikkuri bahn
On 3/21/2023 at 6:26 AM, marknewton said:

G'day Tim,


If you can find a copy of this book you'll find it's very good:





The JRTR website has a number of PDFs that summarise the contents of the book:




Good luck with your project!



Fwiw, the companion book, Japanese Railway Technology Today, is also an excellent resource, focusing on the technological side.  Alas, also OOP.


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