Mapping Bullet Train –
Back in 2022, there was this odd film that popped into the world, Bullet Train, which took place on a Shinkansen travelling from Tokyo to Osaka. For some, it was their film of the year, but I ended up being much more mixed on the movie. However, there was one thing I was thinking about when I sat down to watch the film – is it geographically accurate? This is what we will look at today.
I have taken the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka before, so I thought this was something I could tick off in the cinema, but some of the station locations are shown very briefly or only in part. It took seeing it on digital release to nail this map down.
All the station locations here have been determined because there was either a clear sign or a partial sign that matched up to a location on the map. The one exception to this is Nagoya. For this stop, we never get a clear view of the name in either Romaji or Kanji/Hiragana. However, we see a blurred sign with three characters, even if they are too blurry to determine what they are. Given the location of where they are in Japan and the fact that they name-drop Nagoya later in the film, it fits if the set designers dropped the 駅 (station) or 市 (city) from 名古屋 (Nagoya).
I remembered walking out of seeing the film, feeling like they had never been on a Shinkansen before. But when you map it out, it is remarkably close to reality. I was wondering where this gap occurred, and I think we can trace it to the insert shots of the train travelling through the countryside. There is a uniformity that does not exist in reality, where it feels like somehow Tokyo stretches down half the seaboard of Honshu. Add to this a misplaced Mt Fuji and get a film that is geographically correct if failing the vibe test.
For Full Sized Map Click Here
– The Japan Map that we used as a starting point was created by Koba-chan. These maps were shared under the Creative Commons.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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