Magnetic Future

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

Hello Everyone!


Tomorrow, Japanese Table will meet at Qdoba at 6:30.  Hope everyone can make it!
明日、6時半にQdobaで、Japanese Tableがありますので、よろしくお願いします。



Japanese Counter of the Week:

In Japanese, counter words or counters (josūshi 助数詞) are used along with numbers to count things, actions, and events. 

ぎょう gyō    行    Lines of text


Japanese Fact of the Week:


This month is the 50th anniversary of the Shinkansen, or bullet train, in Japan.  At 10am on October 1st, 1964, with less than a week and a half to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the two inaugural Hikari Super Express Shinkansen, or “bullet trains,” arrived at their destinations, Tokyo and Osaka.  Now, with the 2020 Olympics in sight, Japan has determined to amaze the world again by launching the world’s fastest train - the maglev, or Chuo (“central”) Shinkansen, which will connect Tokyo to Nagoya by 2027 and is being built 40m underground. The train uses magnetic levitation to float to its destination at blazing speeds.  


The new train is called JR Tokai and will be used on the 180 mile stretch of track between Tokyo and Nagoya. Existing bullet trains traveling between those two locations achieve speeds of 200mph and complete the journey in 100 minutes. However, with the introduction of JR Tokai the speed of the train will increase to 300mph and the same journey completed in just 40 minutes. The next leg of the journey, an extension to Osaka, would be completed by 2045. In August, JR Tokai announced it was expecting construction of the Nagoya route from Shinagawa Station in Tokyo to require about ¥5.5 trillion. Extending it to Osaka is estimated to cost ¥9 trillion.


Building an expensive new transit project that will be extremely expensive but won’t be complete until Japan’s commuting population has fallen by almost a third seems like a strange investment.  However, although Japan Rail is digging deep into Japan to build its new train, the real purpose of the project is focused outwards; Japan wants to export this technology to other nations.  JR Tokai would like to build a maglev line that could cover the roughly 60-km stretch between Washington and Baltimore in just 15 minutes. New York would then be linked by extending the line another 300 km.


The technology involved is truly cutting-edge. The principle uses the strong magnetic force generated when superconducting magnets are cooled down to minus 269 degrees Celsius (minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit).  A similar idea was being worked on in Germany, but that effort was abandoned when difficulty was encountered in keeping the running train stable.  The system was previously referred to as "MLU", after the names of several test vehicles and for having a U-shaped maglev track.  The MLX01 (X meaning experimental) is one of the latest designs of a series of Maglev trains in development in Japan since the 1970s.


The physical effort involved in building the tunnels will be massive, as well.  Some 86 percent of the 286-km stretch from Shinagawa to Nagoya will be either underground or in mountain tunnels. The route runs through mountains in Mizunami, Gifu Prefecture, that have 20 to 30 uranium deposits scattered beneath the area.  It is one of the largest uranium concentrations in the nation, and digging 100 to 200 meters deep could result in the extraction of radioactive soil containing radioactive substances.  The tunnel in this area will run around 100 meters underground. JR Tokai said it has selected a route that avoids the deposits by using information from the agency. In the 3-km interval in the city of Mizunami, JR Tokai will be checking uranium concentrations in air, slush water and soil during the construction process.  In Yamanashi Prefecture, around 6 million cu. meters of soil are expected to be excavated for the tunnel and underground route. Of this, three-quarters will likely be used to build roads.


Still, despite the long road ahead, Japan is hoping to honor the Olympic legacy of its high-speed trains in 2020.  JR Central is considering opening a maglev demonstration service from a new station in Kōfu by the 2020 Summer Olympics so that tourists can ride on the experimental track through the Yamanashi mountains