Japan has awesome trains that transform into trucks for best-of-both-worlds mobility

Japan is an incredible place. When you least expect it always has something amazing to show you that you are in this country!

Video shot in Tokyo’s Shibuya Station shows the elusive kirikusha acting.

Aside from being clean and punctual, Japanese trains can boast some amazing features. Between stylish interiors, traditional foot baths, art galleries, and the companionship of pop culture icons like Pikachu and Hello Kitty, expecting the unexpected is always a good policy with Japan’s trains.

Case in point: Japanese Twitter user @hiiq195 was recently waiting on the platform of what he says was Shibuya Station in Tokyo (though to our eyes it looks more like Harajuku Station, the next stop on the Yamanote Line) when he saw a vehicle making its way down the tracks.

Ordinarily, you’d call such a vehicle a train, but in this case, maybe that’s not the right term.

While it was traveling on rails, the vehicle’s overall design is definitely that of a truck. This isn’t just some cosmetic vehicular cosplay, either, as it’s equipped with a full set of four wheels and tires, which are suspended in the air as the raised vehicle moves along the track.

So if it’s not quite a truck and not quite a train, then what is it? In Japanese, it’s called a “kirikusha,” which literally means “rail/land vehicle.” Kirikusha are used for train network construction and maintenance, where trains themselves are ironically not a viable option since the track itself is unusable at the project site.

But how do kirikusha switch between rail to road? The simplest method is to simply use rail crossings. Instead of driving across them like single-surface trains and cars, kirikusha make a 90-degree turn and then extend or compact their rail-use wheels.

Now at its destination, the kirikusha from the above video nonchalantly slips back onto tarmac.


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Sadly, kirikusha are strictly for industrial use, so you can’t rent one on your next vacation in Japan and hold dominion over all of the country’s road and rail networks. But if you’re an infrastructure fan, keep your eyes open during your next day of trainspotting, and it might turn into truckspotting as well.

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