Whenever I see “Tokkyu” translated as “Limited Express” in JR train terminals, I have to wonder if the term “Limited Express” makes sense not only to foreign residents of Japan but also visitors from abroad. This is because I have observed some instances on the internet where “Tokkyu” is referred to in English as “Tokkyu Express.”

JR Group companies used to operate three kinds of train service, namely Tokkyu (Limited Express), Kyuko (Express) and Futsu (Local), in the context that a Limited Express stops at a limited number of stations in comparison with an Express. Today, despite the fact that Express services are no longer available on a regular basis, the term “Limited Express” continues to be used.

My concern is that the term “Limited Express” has no meaning if there is no such thing as an Express service.

When I raised this with JR East’s customer service center, they responded to the effect that based upon a wide spectrum of voices and comments from customers, they will try to consider this matter from the viewpoint of intelligibility, which sounds like lip service.

For the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, a lot of visitors will come to Japan from all over the world. Some will ride Tokkyu as well as shinkansen trains when traveling around. To better serve passengers, the translation “Limited Express” for Tokkyu services should be reviewed and renamed, given that fact that as far as JR’s regular non-shinkansen operations are concerned, there are only two choices: Tokkyu and Futsu.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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