150 years ago today, Japan opened its first rail route.

And it was this month in 1964 that the country first began using its world-famous bullet trains.

A nationwide train network was a big part of the effort to rebuild Japan after World War II.

The country wanted to strengthen its economy.

And it wanted to bring together cities that were sometimes hundreds and hundreds of miles apart, or on separate islands.

It was an expensive and complicated process.

They had to lay a lot of track, of course.

But engineers also had to design sea tunnels between islands.

And the building plans had to take into account the earthquakes Japan has from time to time.

The first line was ready in time to bring passengers to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

What had been a six hour trip between the capital city and Osaka now took four hours.

And the trains have only gotten faster since then, especially with what are called maglev trains.

They’re essentially suspended in air and can travel well past 300 miles per hour.

Safe, fast travel is great for passengers, though it can pose new challenges for engineers.

When superfast trains go through tunnels, they can create sonic booms, which can disrupt the communities nearby and actually pose a risk for other trains in the area.

One of the ways to address the problem is to change the physical design of the front of the train.

They’ve been called bullet trains for decades, but the newest ones are really living up to their names.

Ok, maybe not the one that’s painted to look like Hello Kitty.

Today in Bridgeville, Delaware, the Apple-Scrapple Festival is starting.

The area is proud of its apple orchards and being home to the top scrapple producer in the country.

They’re also obviously proud that the two things they’re proud of rhyme!

Shinkansen about more than speed (Japan Times via Archive.org)

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Bullet Trains (Thrillist)

How Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains changed the world of rail travel (CNN)

Tracing the History of Railways in Japan Through Art (Spoon and Tamago)

Bridgeville Apple-Scrapple Festival

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Photo by Timothy Takemoto via Flickr/Creative Commons