Fun Link Friday: Japan’s Railway Pointing System

If you’ve ever been in Japan and aren’t a train buff, you might wonder what’s up with the neatly dressed railway workers with white gloves, standing at various points of the platform and calling out to one another, pointing to the left or right as the trains are arriving and departing. What exactly are these bizarre gestures that keep Japan’s trains running so smoothly?

Atlas Obscura recently published an article on these signals, known as  “shisa kanko [pointing-and-calling]” (go figure), which are actually a Japanese-innovated industrial safety method that drastically increases safety and accuracy on Japan’s rails. They have some great background on this system and its use (or non-use) globally, so be sure to head over to the original article for some more information on how Japan keeps on top of providing solid transportation for residents and visitors.

You can also check out the video below for some of the various examples of conductors and railway workers using the system in action for a variety of tasks.


About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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