| JQR Special

Keeping the City Clean

Did you know? Why Shinkansen Cars are Always so Clean.

Efficient Perfection in Under 10 Minutes


Each disembarking passenger is given a proper greeting. Once the last passenger is off, the cleaning starts. Still, the cleaning staff will sometimes stop to help passengers with unwieldy baggage.

The Two-Minute Mark

Seats are returned to their original positions and flipped to face the direction of travel. On the Tokaido Shinkansen, this is done using a footoperated pedal. Skill is required to operate the pedal and flip the seat around at the same time.

As they remove the seat back covers, workers are also on the lookout for refuse and dirt along windowsills and on the seats.

Toilets are thoroughly scrubbed. Depending on the situation, this can take time or be finished quickly.

Emptying ashtrays in the smoking room. Workers must check for any stillburning butts.

The Three-Minute Mark

Each seat back cover is put neatly in place and smoothed to remove any wrinkles. Even as the workers rush, their movements are precise.

Seat back covers are distributed along each row. The workers quickly and accurately lay out the correct number of covers.

The Five-Minute Mark

Trash is separated and collected. When volume is heavy, as with trains used by school groups, more staff are added to collect the trash.

Seats are swept with a whisk broom. The brooms are equipped with sensors, enabling workers to detect any damp spots. Unusable seats are switched out.

Broom in the right hand, cleaning cloth in the left. Skilled workers learn to sweep and wipe at the same time, conferring on them the title of “masters of the two-sword technique.”

The Six-Minute Mark

Floors are swept to remove any trace of dust. Around this time, the train’s loudspeaker will announce “Two minutes to go,” and the teams prepare to pull out.

Even the finest cigarette ashes are carefully and completely wiped away. Floors are left spotless, too.

A mirror is used to check for any items left behind on the luggage racks. Jumping up to check the racks can lead to back injuries, so a hand-mirror is essential.

The Seven-Minute Mark

With one eye on the clock, workers still find time to do a last, thorough check of their work. They make sure they have all of their tools with them before removing the “Cleaning in Progress” sign and leaving the train.


Ms. Abe waits for the signal from each car that cleaning is done. After confirming that all the cars have been completed, she contacts JR. Another job well done!

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