Ask any group of children in Japan what they want to be when they grow up and one answer in particular is sure to feature.

"The first time I thought about becoming a train driver was when I was a fourth-grade elementary school student," said 31-year-old Yuko Hatakeyama, who went on to make his dream a reality by becoming a driver on Tokyo's busiest and most important train route, the Yamanote Line.

"It was my first time on a shinkansen that did it for me," he said. "I liked fast things, and I had never been on anything as fast as a shinkansen before. I thought it was so cool."