Tōkaidō Shinkansen (東海道新幹線) was the world's first high-speed train when it debuted in 1964. I have always had a soft spot for Japan and greatly admire their efficiency. I especially envy them when I’m stuck on a delayed train with no air conditioning during my London commute. Did you know the average delay of the Tokaido Shinkansen is two seconds? What about the Southeastern or Southern train lines in London? Let's just say, they are more than two seconds. I digress.

The inspiration for this visualisation came after reading this great article in my favourite Japanese blog. Incidentally, it’s in Spanish, but your browser should give non-Spanish speakers a translation option. I have previously collaborated with Japonismo to help their readers better plan their trips to Japan by accounting for weather patterns there. You can see the climate map viz I created for them below or on Tableau Public. Even if you don't speak Spanish, it should be easy to understand the trends.

Japan Open Data train viz


Designing the Viz

This time while reading the article, I thought it would be interesting to try and visualise the various facts around the Tokaido Shinkansen. I recently read this blog from Toan and decided to explore the idea of rings as a measure of time. Toan makes the process very simple to replicate the chart with our data. That's probably what I love most about the Tableau community. You are always just a couple clicks away from a great idea in the numerous blogs written by the community.

The design side of it was also inspired by someone in the community. Brian Halloran, created this visualisation of the Boston bike share stations and used a novel approach to design by overlaying a cut-out. While I can do that in pain.net, it wouldn't be as good as it could be. So, I hit up InterWorks' in-house designer, David Duncan. After some crude PowerPoint briefs and design changes via Slack, David sent me the cut-out I needed. If you want some design advice from David, he’s just published this brilliant post on dashboard design with a handy cheat-sheet. 

Japan Open Data Train Viz

You can see the full dashboard on my Tableau Public profile or simply click on the image above. For a line that sees more than 350 daily departures connecting the cities of Tokyo and Osaka, there haven’t been any fatal accidents of passengers since the line started in 1964. This was fascinating to me! Compared to other services, such as the London-Paris/Brussels, the Tokaido Shinkansen line has a lot, I mean a lot more passengers on a daily basis.

If you are planning a trip to Japan soon, make sure you take the Tokaido line between Tokyo and Osaka to appreciate the punctuality, comfort and speed of this famous train line.

Thanks a lot to Luis from Japonismo, Toan, Brian and David for what is a huge collaborative visualisation.

Thank you for reading!

More from the Author

David Pires

Senior Analytics Consultant