With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics getting closer each day, government officials in Japan have been highlighting some of the cool features that make Japan unique and interesting. One of these efforts resulted in a video showcasing the super-fast cleanup of shinkansen that happens each day. The video, titled “7-Minute Miracle”, went viral last year and has racked-up over 5.8 Million views!
I really enjoyed this video, and wanted to showcase it here. So first, here it is:
The video was shot by Charli James, a New York-based journalist, and he did an awesome job.
What’s the Shinkansen?
The Shinkansen (新幹線), which means “new trunk line”, is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan. Most people know the shinkansen by its more common name, the “bullet train”, which stands for the fact that these trains go fast—some over 200 mph!
If you have ever been to Japan, then you know that shinkansen are used every day by hundreds of thousands of people, as they link many of the major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. They are also popular with tourists, as they can provide a quick and efficient way of seeing many different areas of Japan in one trip.
But what really surprises visitors, is that with so many people riding these trains, they are always incredibly clean. But how do they do it?
TESSEI is the JR East’s rail service company, and is in charge of cleaning each of the shinkansen that travel around Japan each day. They do this by employing a staff of about 820 workers, with an average age of 52, and about half of them women. The crew may be older, but they are definitely not slowing down.
The workers are divided into teams of about 22 people, with 11 teams taking turns on the platforms—meaning that they are cleaning about 20 trains per day.
The teams spend only 7 minutes cleaning the shinkansen, as the train only stops at the station for 12 minutes—including the time it takes passengers to get on and off. In this time, they pick-up the trash in each seat, sweep the floors, wipe the trays, check the overhead carriage bins, open the curtains, and turn the seats to face in the right direction. Each worker is in charge of 100 seats, so they work hard and fast to get things done.
And what makes this ballet of efficiency even more amazing, is that at the end of the 7-Minute cleanup, all of the workers line-up in front of the train and bow.
Tourists are left stunned by this action, but to the Japanese workers it is common to show this type of respect. This is definitely an example of “omotenashi” or Japanese hospitality.
So the next time you are in Japan, head-over to the shinkansen platforms to watch these amazing workers perform this 7-Minute Miracle—and don’t forget to show your appreciation by applauding, they really do like it!
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