“The Express Train at Sea-Coast of Shinagawa,” 1912.

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“The Express Train at Sea-Coast of Shinagawa,” 1912. The Tokaido Main Line crosses into Tokyo from Yokohama.

See also:
Tokaido Main Line, c. 1930
Aerial view of Shinagawa and nearby hotels, c. 1980

“I [was] enchanted by the sight of the little steam train threading its way along the coast from the direction of Shinagawa, spilling out its grimy smoke. In those days there was only one railway line in Japan, and that was between Tokyo and Yokohama. And there were songs in fashion like the one that went:

‘The train’s setting off – sai, sai,
Leaving its smoke – sai, sai:
Isn’t it horrid, all this smoke! – sai, sai.’

“The train was still a novelty even for city dwellers. It was around this time that the Frenchman Pierre Loti came to Japan, and really insulted the Tokyo-Yokohama train – or rather, looked upon it with pity – and said, ‘A train, in Japan! A tiny little train! A rickety-rackety, one-jarring little train!’ But nevertheless, pathetic little train that it was, it did represent the first major enterprise of the Japanese government.”

“In Those Days”, by Tayama Katai, Thirty Years in Tokyo, 1917 (translated by Kenneth G. Henshall, 1987)

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