All About Japan

36 Japanese Words to Describe Train Otaku

Trains Learning Japanese Otaku

You may already be aware that there's a subculture of train fanatics in Japan known as densha otaku, or train nerds. But did you know that there are loads of sub-subcultures within the densha otaku? From those obsessed with train noises to experts on train lunch boxes, we’ve got them all covered for you.

1. Tori-tetsu: enjoys taking pictures of trains
Whether happily clicking away in the carriage or perched on precarious hills to get the perfect background, you’ll find these otaku with giant cameras in hand anywhere trains go.

2. Onkyo-tetsu: focuses on sounds made by trains and recording them
These audiophiles often appear on Japanese TV, simultaneously amazing audiences and inducing pity with their ability to listen to a short recording and immediately identify the type of train and the line it's on. Also sure to know every station’s platform music.

3. Nori-tetsu: enjoys riding trains
This otaku is old school. He wants to take that train and ride it, ride it. His highest goal is kanjou, riding the complete length of all rail lines in Japan.

4. Ori-tetsu: likes to get off the train and explore around the station
We thought this was just a tourist?

5. Jushin-tetsu: intercepts train operators’ radio signals
This seems slightly less exciting than those that monitor police channels or ham radio enthusiasts, but what do we know? Maybe train conductors are closet philosophers or something.

6. Sharyou-tetsu: an expert on train cars, including design and engineering specs
This otaku isn’t just interested in the latest public transportation, but in the history and development of trains.

7. Mokei-tetsu: a model train collector
This also includes diorama-tetsu, who build vast dioramas for their model trains to run on.

8. Shushu-tetsu: a collector of train-related goods
Some of these otaku collect tickets or parts from decommissioned trains, others stick to the more common promotional items.

9. Oshi-tetsu: a stamp collector
This otaku isn’t interested in postal stamps, but rather the rubber stamps provided at some stations. Mostly this is a tourism promotion effort aimed at children.

10. Suji-tetsu or jikokuhyou-tetsu: focuses on train timetables and maps
These guys actually enjoy reading the phone-book-sized paper train schedules put out by the train companies.

11. Eki-tetsu: station experts
These are your go-to guys if you want to find out about a station’s construction or the reason for its name.

12. Haisen-tetsu: experts in abandoned rail lines
This branch has a lot in common with the recent trend in haikyo, or exploration of ruins and abandoned buildings, but they just focus on train-related ruins.

13. Haisen-tetsu: a wiring expert
These guys are interested in all the wiring and electronics that go into railways, such as signals.

14. Senrou-tetsu: focuses on the rails themselves
Trains-shmains, these otaku want to know more about the metal bits they run on. They are quite into photographing rails and railway ties, apparently.

15. Setsubi-tetsu: rail facilities fans
If you love train tunnels and bridges, this is the club for you.

16. Unten-tetsu: conductor wannabes
The deepest desire of their hearts is to drive an actual train. Until then, simulators will have to do.

17. Houan-tetsu: railway safety fans
A lot goes into the safe operation of trains, and these otaku want to know about it all.

18. Kaki-tetsu: train artists
They make purdy pictures of trains.

19. Kaku-tetsu: imaginary train builders
These otaku like to create their own train systems from scratch, at least in their minds.

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