I took this photo at Shinagawa station in Tokyo. It shows the upcoming Shinkansen (bullet train) departures.
At the bottom is a notice, in Japanese and in English, about a planned suspension of service. The trains will stop for 1 hour on Dec. 18, for safety checks.
The interesting part is that I took this photo on Nov. 29. Fully three weeks in advance (and probably longer) of the planned 1-hour suspension in service.
This is a great example of the almost impeccable train service in Japan, especially the Shinkansen lines. Punctuality is of utmost importance, so meticulous planning – such as this scheduled safety check – is de rigeur. Sometimes this fervor for punctuality can lead to tragic consequences, but mostly it leads to unparalleled predictability in train schedules. In fact, the average annual delay in Shinkansen trains, country-wide, is less than 1 minute (!). That’s on a network that transports more than 350 million passengers annually over almost 3,000 kilometers of lines.
(This is a post in the series “Why Japan is the Closest Place to Paradise“)