J.N.R. Limited Express commemorative advertising postcard, October 1958.

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J.N.R. Limited Express commemorative advertising postcard, 1958, announcing the beginning of “Kodama”, “Tsubame”, “Fuji” and “Hato” high-speed express service between Tokyo & Osaka on October 1, 1958. After the end of the Pacific War, the national railroad began to seriously research and develop various means to increase the speeds of its railroads. The electrically-powered “Kodama” express trains did just that — reduced the travel time between Tokyo and Osaka from 12 hours to just over 6 hours between the two cities, making it possible to make a round-trip in one day, hence the name ‘Kodama’ (‘echo’). The R&D needed for the development of the 151-series trains – and the later 181-series – used for the limited express (illustrated on the postcard) would be important toward the introduction of the Shinkansen (“Bullet Train”) in 1964 after which the “Kodama” name was transferred to the faster Shinkansen.

See also:
Tokaido Main Line “Kodama”, c. 1960.
C55 Streamlined Locomotive and Mt. Fuji, c. 1940.
Tokaido Main Line Railway, c. 1930.

“On July 21, 1959, the M.U. electric streamliner Kodama set the world’s narrow-gauge speed record by dashing down the Tokaido Line at 101 mph during special tests.

“The object of the [test] was to reduce running time between Tokyo and Osaka to give passengers better schedules and finer trains. This is not noly progress, it is desperate necessity. The number of fares carried in 1960 (5.1 billion) represents a 384% increase over 1936.

“… The 17 major carbuilders of Japan are today vying with each other in producing streamliners of speedy and luxurious proportions. JNR’s new drumhead-carrying limiteds are proving the point. The Kodama with its locomotive nose on each end is an example of Japan’s triumph in the lightweight game.

“The smooth-riding Kodama and Tsubame daily round trips [between Tokyo and Osaka] offer second-class plush seats individually reserved in advance. First class consists of reserved reclining seats complete with plug-in radio and magazine rack. The piece de résistance, however, is the new parlor car with its textile finished interior, 14 individual rotating reclining seats, and a drawing room with picture windows measuring 39 x 79 inches. This room takes up the entire front end of the car directly behind the cab.

“While the train has air conditioning throughout, travelers holding parlor reservations enjoy plug-in radio and television services and are further pampered with refreshments politely served (on the house) by gracious hostesses.

“The JNR is thus prepared to serve fussy royalty in regal style or to carry the peasant farmer to the next village in the beautiful setting of rural Japan.”

“Train Riding in Japan”, by William K. Viekman, Trains, April 1962

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