The town of Tabata in Tokyo is regarded as a sacred ground among Japanese densha (train) fans. Many trains running around Tokyo and other prefectures passes through Tabata station.
Of course, the places where you can observe railways at Tabata are free of charge!
Japans's railway society
However, this otaku culture is not limited to only anime and idols. There are rock band otakus, machine otakus, animal otakus and even health otakus!
Anime otakus and idols otakus might be the largest otaku groups but the third biggest otaku group is what we would like to introduce to you today. Train otakus.
Since there are many kinds of trains and carriages in Japan, there were already people collecting train models and other information about trains. Previously since otakus did not have a positive image, train otakus barely revealed themselves to the society. However, since otaku culture are now more open and accepted, train otakus are becoming vigorously active and their community has grown rapidly and is now one of the biggest society in Japanese otaku culture.
In the past few years, the number of people waiting to take photo of trains and railways have increased. Thanks to these train otakus for gathering people with the same interest together.
What do you like about trains?
Even though there are bad-mannered train otakus, it is just a minor problem compared to the whole otaku culture. There are train otakus specializing in photography and there are just smalls disputes going own between them from time to time. Besides this, there are other train otaku specialists such as sound, train riding and train timetables. There are specific rules that train otakus should follow so don’t worry and have fun observing trains in Japan!
So, what kind of trains are you interested in?
Tabata, a "sacred" place for train otakus!
We’ve introduced a few train otaku specialists and now we will introduce you to Tabata, known as a “sacred” ground for train otakus.
In central Tokyo, there is a train line that runs in a loop called the Yamanote line. Tabata station is located on this loop line. At the front of the station, there is a clock tower and this is the usual meeting spot for the locals. However, there are not many famous sightseeing spots in Tabata so it is not as crowded as other stations on the Yamanote line.
There are two train bases
The reason why Tabata is known sacred place of trains is because there are two railroad yards. After the day’s operation is over, the trains will have to return to its base station. There are two base stations at Tabata, which means you can see many trains passing by this station!
The reason why Tabata is known sacred place of trains is because there are two railroad yards. After the day’s operation is over, the trains will have to return to its base station. There are two base stations at Tabata which means you can see many trains pass by this station!
Train-related events at the train base
One of the train bases in Tabata is the “Tabata operation centre.” Trains are one of the major transportation facilities in Tokyo and here they operate both passenger vehicles and freight vehicles. This base has many freight vehicles and the most common type of freight vehicle are locomotive trains. There are not many opportunities to see locomotive trains in Tokyo so here is your chance!
The other base is called “Oku Vehicle Centre.” Oku Vehicle centre is adjacent to Oku station and is within walking distance from Tabata station. This train base is famous for sightseeing trains. As some of the sightseeing trains are no longer in operation, here is the place to see some old train models.
These two train bases are popular spots among train otakus but of course you are not allowed to enter without permission. You are allowed to observe trains from a distance since these train bases are still in operation and it can be dangerous if you get too close.
Don’t worry, there are special days where the bases are open to the public!
Every autumn, the train base at Oku Vehicle Centre is open to public. Train and railway related events are held and you can spend a fulfilling day discovering about the exhibitions Limited goods are also on sale only on the event day too!
Meanwhile, special photograph sessions are held at Tabata. Unfortunately, not everyone can participate in this event. Only the first ten people who purchase special senior tickets within a certain period can participate.
Other than train bases, here's where train otakus gather
In Tabata, there are other places where train otakus love spending their time at besides the two train bases.
The several train and railway-related stores operated by train otakus. You can find toys, train figurines, train tickets and even train parts on sale!
“Dai-ni Nakazato Fumikiri”, is the only railway crossing left in Tabata. Since the Yamanote line is the main railway line in Tokyo, train passes here once every three minutes. Since many trains passes by so frequently, railway crossings have disappeared one after another so the trains can run smoothly. In addition, there are some bridges that was once used as a crossing displayed just outside the north exit of Tabata station. Feel free to check out these places, it’s free of charge!
Sightseeing in Tabata? Don't forget to check out the trains!
From Tokyo station (40 minutes by bus from Haneda airport) to Tabata station takes 15 minutes by train via the Yamanote line. Other popular tourist spots near Tabata such as Ikebukuro and Ueno are also on the Yamanote line so if you have time, make sure you visit other stations too!
A special place for train lovers
If you happen to be interested in trains and railways, be sure to visit Tabata. The world of railways is deeper than you imagined. Experience the charm of Tabata, more discoveries are waiting for you!