Links of Interest

The following are links to other sites related to model trains or Japanese railroading that I’ve found interesting or useful. For stores that sell Japanese trains and other things, see the Suppliers page.

Japanese Translation tools

Note: these are all pretty bad when it comes to producing comprehensible English, but they’re better than nothing if you don’t know Japanese (and I don’t) and are confronted with a web page in that language. Of these, Excite is a bit harder to use, but does a much better job than Google 90% of the time. Google is more flexible, and can translate pages Excite can’t.

Google’s Translation tools
Interface to Excite’s Japanese translator and a Japanese version (on this one, after pasting in the URL click the lower white half of the blue/white button, and then click the yellow button).

Note that a URL translator won’t work if the page is dynamically generated (you’ll end up with a translation of some parent page). In that case, the best you can do it paste the text into a translator. Also note that none of these will translate text on graphics (and some pages use a lot of that; annoying).

Finally, if the Japanese page looks like gibberish (lots of punctuation and question marks) rather than Japanese, you need to set the character encoding first, before you can use a cut/paste translator. In Firefox this is done via the “View” menu, and you probably want to select “Japanese (Shift_JIS)” but if that doesn’t work, try any and all Japanese encodings offered. Japanese websites tend to assume their readers are defaulting to the correct encoding, and don’t send the required identification to let the browser figure it out, and western browsers don’t default to the older Japanese sets (they use UTF8 at best, which can represent Japanese, but often default to older western encodings that are country-specific).

English-language Blogs and fora

Akihabara Station
Japan Rail Modelers of Washington, DC
Japanese Modeling and Japan Rail Enthusiasts Forum (JNS Forum)
Japanese Model Trains Newsletter (blog)
Japanese Railway Modeling Homepage
Japanese Railway Society (UK)
Trams - Japanese Trams and Light Interurbans
Modelrail.Otenko - not always about Japanese railways, but often is
Quinntopia - not a Japanese layout, but with info on Japanese trains
Tokyo in N Scale

Useful but dormant Blogs

Yamanote-sen (although no longer updated, the website was moved c.2011, and the new link is provided here; if it moves again, Google may find it)

Digital Command Control (DCC) information

Converting Tomix and Kato signals to DCC operation (page is in Japanese)
DCC Wiki
Japanese homebrew DCC signal controller (and videos showing operation)
JMRI (open-source DCC programming and layout control software)
Modelrail.Otenko (blog about arduino and other model railroad electronics projects)
Railstars (blog about DCC and other model railroad electronics projects)
Wiring for DCC

Layout Design

RailModeller (Macintosh layout-design software)
XTrackCAD Wiki
XTrackCAD download page (open-source layout design software)

Unitrack Resources

Weathering and Ballasting Kato Unitrack (a JJJ&E page)

Tomix FineTrack and Mini-Rail Resources

JNS Forum “So you want to try Tomix FineTrack?” thread.
JTrains blog, and specifically a post on MiniRail.
Other Tomix posts on Wordpress.
Trainweb’s main site has a number of sections on Tomix, including an Introduction to Tomix.
See also EasyTrolley and J-Module links below.

Module and Related Standards

Bend Track, a flexible modular system using two-foot deep modules with a front and rear line (and optional center divider)
EasyTrolley, a system using Tomix Finetrack for light-rail modeling.
NMRA Module Standards and Practices
Standards for J-Module (a variant of N-Trak based on Tomix sectional track)
Standards for NTrak modules (the original, and still popular, N-scale module standard)

T-Trak Module Standards and Variants

T-Trak is a small module standard used for table-top modules ideally suited to shelf layouts or people who live in apartments and want something they can set up on a table-top. It is very well suited to making small, detailed scenes, and less well suited to large layouts. The standard T-Trak module is 70mm (2 3/4”) high, 310mm (12 1/8”) long, and 210mm (8 1/4”) deep, and is sized to be used with Kato Unitrack set 38mm (1 1/2”) back from the front. Track-to-track spacing is 33mm to fit Unitrack (not Unitram, which has a different spacing).
Standards for T-Trak modules (system for small table-top modules). This is the original English-language version using English / Imperial dimensions.
Australian T-TRAK standards, a variation using metric measurements
Thomas.Tuerke.Net has a page on Shelf-top Modules (an extension of T-Trak).
The Wikidot T-TRAK site.
The Unofficial T-TRAK Handbook.

Japanese T-Trak

Japan uses a slightly different standard for T-Trak, with a 308mm long straight section (310mm is sometimes used) of 210mm depth, a 100mm maximum height using adjustable feet (the minimum appears to be 60mm), and a 50mm setback for the front track, with 25mm track-to-track spacing.
The Japanese T-Trak standard as per RM Magazine (linked page is English, but some other pages are Japanese)
A Japanese T-TRAK site (written in Japanese) using the Japanese standard.
A Japanese site (written in Japanese) using 100mm high non-adjustable, 310mmx150mm single-track modules with a 30mm setback for the track.

Model Companies

Kato (USA)
Kato Japan (Japanese, English) - sometimes the Japanese pages are newer or more detailed
Micro Ace
Modemo (a subsidiary of Hasegawa Corp., but only listed via their Japanese homepage, link on left side)
Tomytec and Tomix - Tomytec is also known for their various Collections and the Tetsudou Musume line (which is often translated as "Train Daughters", but musume literally means "young woman" which is probably more accurate here)

Online versions of print publications

Railway Research Technical Institute’s Quarterly Report.

Other Information

Skyscraper City: Japan Urban Transport thread - which is very long, but interesting