Frenzied otaku have brought dozens of trains to a standstill thanks to their desire to photograph Asuka, delaying 13,000 commuters and causing transport chaos.
Police had to eject the maniacal throng from the premises to avert further delays.
The chaos began as dozens of trainspotting otaku descended upon an Osaka area, intent on photographing the red belle of their dreams: “Asuka,” a rare locomotive outfitted for tourist usage, with the unusual distinction of having tatami flooring.
The excitement of seeing this train pay a rare visit to an urban station drove the gathered otaku into a frenzy, and some 50 of the assembled otaku crowded onto the tracks themselves so as to get better pictures, bringing all trains on the affected lines to a halt due to the obvious safety concerns to passengers and staff of running over so many otaku.
The assembled crowd ignored pleas from train drivers to vacate the lines, and station staff and police had to be summoned in order to disperse the mob; police are said to be considering pressing charges of disrupting the operation of trains, although no arrests were carried out at the time.
In total 19 services were completely suspended as a result of the track invasion, whilst 26 services suffered delays of up to 40 minutes, all of which affected an estimated total of 13,000 commuters.
The train company responsible for the lines affected, JR West, urges train fans to demonstrate their respect for the railways by observing simple manners, such as not blocking lines in order to get a better shot.
Recently an escalating series of incidents involving train-spotters have come to light in Japan, with throngs of camera waving otaku blocking platforms and attempting to eject non-trainspotters from carriages, but rarely have they had such a direct effect on services as in the case of Asuka.
Earlier in the year, a similarly disturbing incident was reported where trainspotters descended upon an unusually numbered (“209”) service on the Keihin-Touhoku line, filling the train after photographing it.
Standing on seats and roaring with the exultation of arriving at a (to them) particularly interesting station, the mass began screaming at ordinary passengers that “No commoners can board here!” and “This carriage is for tetsu-ota only!”
Here another group of “tetsu-ota” scream “Die!” at a farmer’s truck which had the temerity to drive around in a field whilst their favourite train passed by:
A group of trainspotters descend into frenzy whilst station staff stoically stand by: