Episode 386 – The Iron Road, Part 3

This week, we’re talking about the rebirth of Japan’s rail network in the form of Japan National Railways. Some things will stay the same (it’s all the same guys in charge), some will change (a free press keeps reporting on the mistakes those guys make), and all of this will culminate in one of the most ambitious engineering projects in Japanese history: the Tokaido Shinkansen.


Nishiyama, Takashi. “War, Peace, and Nonweapons Technology: The Japanese National Railways and Products of Defeat, 1880s-1950s.” Technology and Culture 48, No 2 (April, 2007)

Hood, Christopher. Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan.

Noguchi, Paul Hideo. The ‘One Railroad Family’ of Japanese National Railways: A Cultural Analysis of Japanese Industrial Familialism.


The flag of JNR, with the company seal in the top left.
The headquarters of JNR in Tokyo; originally, this building was used by the Rail Ministry before 1943.
The Sakuragicho train fire of 1951. Incidents like these were major scandals for JNR, where in the past they likely would have been buried.
A 0-Series Shinkansen in 1967 moving through Yurakucho.
Sogo Shinji early in his career.



1 thought on “Episode 386 – The Iron Road, Part 3”

  1. One of the things that strikes me as amazing about the Shinkansen is its incredible safety record; essentially no passenger deaths in the 57 years of the system except for people sadly taking their own lives. Granted it helps when you have your own special dedicated tracks. How much did the early post-war safety problems loom over thinking of the JNR executives and planners as designed the Shinkansen system?

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