An amazing time-lapse video shows the 150-year history of the development of railway stations in Japan

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Points of light shine brightly and sometimes disappear in this fascinating look at the last century and a half.

It’s hard to imagine Japan without it trains. Whether it’s the Shinkansen speeding past Mount Fuji or the Yamanote Line commuter train packed with office workers, the railways are connected to some of the country’s most iconic images.

And yet, historically speaking, you don’t have to go that far back to get to a time when there were no trains in Japan at all. In 1872, the first railway line opened in Japanwhen Tokyo’s Shimbashi station was merged with what is now Yokohama’s Sakuragicho station, meaning that Japan’s high-speed railroading has taken place since then, and to illustrate how this happened, a Japanese Twitter user @ShinagawaJP created a fascinating time-lapse video showing the tags for each station in the country.

With each station represented by a light point, Japan starts with just two. Soon, however, there will be more, along with the surrounding area Osaka and west Hokkaido being the next enlightened.

▼ 1882

The pace really picks up after the Meiji Restoration in 1888, when Japan ended centuries of feudal shogunate rule and modernization could take place. One year later, Tokyo and other cities in the Kanto region are connected to Kyoto, Osaka and other major Kansai communities. Before the turn of the century, the Chugoku region of western Japan and the Hokuriku area on the north side of Japan’s main island of Honshu received their first stations, as did the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu.

▼ 1895

In 1925, almost the whole country is outlined in stations, and the area in between begins to fill up more and more, with the concentration of stations appearing to reach its peak in the 1960s.

▼ 1925

▼ 1960

While areas around Japan’s largest cities maintain station density, some other regions can see lights go out as stations end their rail service. The phenomenon is particularly evident in Hokkaido, explains @ShinagawaJP, as coal mines began to close and people moved out of the most remote, mountainous parts of the prefecture. The increase in personal car ownership as Japan experienced an economic boom in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s probably also played a role, as Hokkaido’s size and low population density make it a part of Japan where driving is often more convenient than by train.

▼ Time lapse for Hokkaido

In the video focusing on western Japan, we see Kyushu go through a Hokkaido-like contraction, once again, says @ShinagawaJP, as a result of mine shutdowns.

In Tohoku, trains first ran along the coast before connections to the more mountainous interior became available.

Finally, the Kanto-Kansai area is where you’ll find the most populous cities in Japan, so the areas around Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka are getting brighter.

“I wish I had a time machine to see what’s next for these maps,” says @ShinagawaJP. We’ll just have to wait and see, but at least while we wait for the next 150 years of Japanese train history we can look for these 150 Pokémon from the hidden train station.

Source: Twitter/@ShinagawaJP by IT media
Photos: Twitter/@ShinagawaJP
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