I was introduced to the 2 main types of train otaku towards the end of my study abroad: noritetsuo (likes to ride trains) and toritetsuo (likes to take pictures of trains).
I have found a more comprehensive list of 10 types of train otaku, and I’d like to order them here and explain how each one applies to my life. So, #10 means it least describes me, while the #1 most describes me.
10. Mokeitetsuo (likes to build train models)
Some of these on the bottom of the list I have practically never done before. For this one and #8, it’s very possible that if I got into it or had been into it, I would have really liked it and it would be higher on the list. I think building model train tracks are expensive, so I will pass for now.
9. Ekibentetsuo (likes/analyzes station box lunches)
This was almost #10 on the list, but I am sure there is nothing wrong with station lunch boxes. I just don’t think I have ever purchased one. I would like to meet these people because I am curious how exactly one could become a ekibentetsuo…
8. Toritetsuo (likes to take pictures of trains)
This is one of the most common types of train otaku. I have simply never done it. I have the occasional picture of a train station or two, but that’s about it. There’s not much intentionality behind it for me.
I have seen many, many of these types of train otaku. They will stand at the end of train platforms with tripods and take pictures (usually videos nowadays) of the train’s arrival and departure. I even saw one at my station where the train only comes once an hour. That’s dedication if you ask me.
7. Shushutetsuo (likes to collect train memorabilia)
I don’t really do this…
6. Sharyotetsuo (likes/analyzes train vehicles)
I don’t know too much about the train vehicles, but I do kind of know the length of the trains (i.e. how many cars it has) that run through areas. For example, up to 12 cars…well, let me start a new section:
Fun Fact: Special Rapid and Rapid trains on the JR Kobe/Kyoto Line can be up to 12 cars. Special Rapid can be as small as 8 cars, and Rapid as small as 6 cars. The Tokyo Chuo/Sobu Line runs trains with cars of about 10 cars each, and the Tokaido Main Line up to Atami sometimes has trains with 15 cars.
But that’s probably the extent of it for me. Still, it’s always nice to see newer types of trains and train cars available.
5. Ototetsuo (likes/analyzes train-related sounds)
I am assuming this is referring to more of the jingles that one can hear when waiting at train platforms. It probably also refers to announcements heard, which are very standardized across the system.
Fun Fact: The JR Kobe/Kyoto Lines have some stations that have automated announcements that are in both English and Japanese at the station platform but not on the train. Consequently, JR Tokyo area trains have announcements on board the train but not on the platforms.
I’ll admit I have spent time listening to the different songs on YouTube. I’d like to know how they determine which jingles to play at which times.
4. Ekitetsuo (likes train stations)
Train stations are fascinating. You can’t ride a train without going through a station. Some have one platform. Some have upwards of 10+ platforms. There are many lines that run through train stations, and many exits to see. Osaka just recently updated their station by adding another exit-a bridge above the train platforms. Every time I go to JR Shinjuku station, I find another random exit (Southern Terrace, New South, etc.)
Then there’s the design and feel of the station-both inside and outside the ticket gates. Many of them seemed to have received modern updates, while others retain a classic feel. It’s cool stuff. You can’t meet someone without knowing the general layout of the station and its exits, so it’s all relevant.
Fun Fact: I have been in and out of every JR station in Kobe except for Shioya and Wadamisaki. My favorite station designs in this area are Sumakaihinkoen, Takatori and Nada.
*As of March 2016, Maya Station also is a JR station in the city of Kobe, which I have not been to.
3. Noritetsuo (likes to ride trains)
This is the most common type of train otaku. They might be harder to spot because everyone rides trains. Secretly, they are sitting down in their seats very giddy with the very fact that they can be inside the presence of a train. After being in this rural area of Japan, this may rank lower on the list simply because there’s a lot of stopping and waiting for 10 minutes and doing nothing, and I can’t say I like sitting on the train waiting for it to move.
Nonetheless, the act of riding trains is fun. There’s no other way to put it than that.
2. Rosenkenkyuu[tetsuo] (analyzes train lines)
The only worksheet that I updated at my school was the train worksheet. Sorry, but the Biwako Line doesn’t go to Omi-Shiotsu. That would be the Hokuriku Line. Knowing the lines are important, but so is what trains stop at which stations. Special Rapids, Rapids and Locals all stop at my station, but I used to live at a station where Special Rapids didn’t stop. It’s not enough to look at the final destination sign-two trains that go to Tsuruga both don’t necessarily go down the Kosei Line, but I would need the one that does. This is all useful and valuable information to have.
1. Jikokuhyoutetsuo (analyzes train schedules)
More than the train lines, I like to look at schedules. You have to know schedules to properly utilize the Youthful 18 Ticket. This allows someone like me to ride from Kansai are to Tokyo on regular trains, which requires many transfers. Analyzing train schedules is also one of the easiest ‘hobbies’ to get into. Hyperdia makes it easy to look up schedules and plan trips.
Another facet of this kind of otaku (at least I think it would fall in this category) is understanding the prices of train trips. This is good to know when traveling to big cities, where it might be a little cheaper or convenient to take subways or other lines that are not JR.
More importantly, when you travel across the country, you have to know the train times. This is also helpful when you don’t have an iPhone.
There you have it!