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Asia-Pacific / Japan

Video: Japan's bullet trains are cleaned by in just seven minutes

Japan’s bullet trains, or Shinkansen, travel at speeds of up to 320 km/h. That places them among the fastest trains in the world.

As it turns out, though, the high speeds don’t end when the train pulls into a station: crack teams of cleaners at Tokyo station clean entire trains in just 7 minutes. 

This clip, made by American journalist Charli James, shows them at work:

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Over 320 bullet trains pass through Tokyo station every day, and employees will clean about 20 cars per shift. Their average age, according to James’ video, is 52. 

Each cleaner takes on one car of 100 seats, and clears each row in 12 seconds. This includes cleaning windowsills, luggage racks, and individual tray tables. 

Then, using a “secret button”, they turn the seats around so they face the correct direction for the next trip, exit the cars, and bow to passengers on the platform: 

James told Quartz that this act particularly interested her while making the film: “It was really interesting to me that, even though it is a cleaning job, they take a lot of pride in their work.” In fact, when she asked the cleaners’ boss why employees bowed at the end of a shift, he didn’t understand why she was even asking the question. 
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