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3 Things You Should Know When Approaching Railroad Crossings in Japan

Railway crossings are something that you will probably run into during your trip to Japan. Though pretty common due to the astonishing number of train lines nationwide, they can be a source of danger to those who don’t know about some basic rules of safety. Here are three key points you should bear in mind when approaching a railway crossing in Japan.

Key Point #1: Be Careful When the Railroad Crossing Gate Lowers

Both pedestrians and vehicles must stop before the railroad crossing once the gate bell starts to ring and the crossing gate comes down. You can only proceed to cross after the train has passed and the gate has lifted back up. The train doesn’t come immediately after the gate lowers, but that doesn’t mean that you can pass the bar and go across. If the gate comes completely down while you are still crossing, don’t panic and continue moving on to the other side. If you get caught in between the gates when driving a vehicle, the gate will move if you go forward.

In the event that your vehicle stops moving or you fell and hurt yourself badly, you should press the emergency button by the crossing gate or ask someone to press it for you. If your car is stopped in the crossing, you can also use the flare* you can find inside the car to notify the train conductor.

Another thing that you need to remember is that every vehicle needs to completely stop before crossing a railroad crossing even if the bell is not ringing.

* By law, every car in Japan should be equipped with a flare to be used in case of emergencies.


Key Point #2: Be Careful While on the Railroad Crossing

Once on the railroad crossing, you should try to cross it as quickly as possible. Do not stop or stand around on it. If you are driving a vehicle, remember to stop and listen for any sounds, confirm visually that no trains are coming and only then proceed. You might feel compelled to take a picture of the tracks or train station while crossing, but in urban areas, there are too many people, vehicles and trains coming and going so please refrain from doing it.

One thing you should be extra careful about when driving is traffic jams. When you see that traffic is not moving beyond the railroad crossing, don’t go across.

The whole area alongside the railroad crossing is part of the railroad, so it is off-limits to the public. It is against the law to step inside without authorization. Needless to say, it is extremely dangerous to cross the railroad outside the designated areas.

Key Point #3: Unknown Facts About Japanese Railroad Crossings

Trains can reach speeds over 100 km/h in some railroad crossings in Japan. It can take as little as 15 seconds for the train to come once the gate is completely down. Therefore, as explained in the first part of this article, it is of the utmost urgency that you notify the conductor as fast as possible in case you get stuck on the railroad crossing. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should never stop your vehicle too close to the crossing gate because this can lead to a dangerous collision. Always leave some space between your car and the gate.

In some urban centers throughout the country, there are some railroad crossings famous for “not opening,” that is, once the gate is down, it takes quite a while for pedestrians and vehicles to be able to cross again. This occurs because crossing gates will only reopen some few seconds after the trains have passed when it is completely safe to cross. Japan Railways (JR) and other private companies are trying their best to improve the situation, but with little success due to the large number of trains running on the same lines. Look for alternative routes and footbridges to avoid losing time if you are in a hurry.

There has been an increasing number of warning signs in languages other than Japanese in recent years. However, you won’t find them at every railroad crossing. Now that you know more about the subject, be sure to refer this article to other people you think might benefit from the information contained here.

Japanese Railroad Crossings Popular All Over the World!

Railroad crossings in Japan have been seeing an increase in popularity among tourists from abroad. One, in particular, is the railroad crossing near Kamakura-koko-mae Station on the Enoshima Electric Railway Line in Kanagawa Prefecture. This location appears in the famous manga Slam Dunk and attracts a large number of fans from around the world, especially Taiwan.

Besides serving as the backdrop for several manga, anime, movies, and TV shows, railroad crossings are also very popular because they offer tourists a great chance to take beautiful pictures of the landscape and daily life in Japan. For railroad fans, it’s the perfect spot to observe different trains from up close, so you can find enthusiasts from all over the world in these locations. Remember to keep in mind the key points described in this article to make the most of the fascinating railroad crossings found in Japan.

Railroad Crossing Near Kamakura Koko-Mae Station on the Enoshima Electric Railway Line

1-1 Koshigoe, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa

As you can see, there are a few rules you need to observe when approaching railroad crossings in Japan. You should be able to fully enjoy their magical appeal safely as long as you remember the information presented in this article. Just be sure to watch your surroundings and have a great time!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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