The Blue Ribbon and Laurel Awards

By Dave Fossett

Updated By Anthony Leith

The Blue Ribbon and Laurel Awards are awarded annually by the Japan Railfan Club to new trains with outstanding design or that have particularly caught the imagination of rail enthusiasts during the previous year. The Blue Ribbon Award came about following the appearance of the Odakyu Railway 3000 series SE express EMU in 1957, which set new standards in train design and styling. Members of the Japan Railfan Club felt that some kind of award was needed to recognize innovative train designs such as this, and in 1958, the Odakyu 3000 series became the first Blue Ribbon Award winner. Each year, members of the Japan Railfan Club voted for the top train design of those trains launched during the previous year.

The Blue Ribbon Award naturally tended to be awarded to the more glamorous express train types, and so lowly commuter trains were inevitably left out even if they incorporated new design features. The Laurel Award was therefore added from 1961 onwards to recognize outstanding commuter train designs. The first winner of this award was the Hankyu Railway 2000 series EMU.

By the 1970s, however, commuter express trains began to appear on some lines, blurring the distinction between express and commuter trains. From 1974 onwards, the Laurel Award was presented to trains considered by members to incorporate outstanding design or technological features. In some years, two or even three trains have shared the Laurel Award.

Official award presentation ceremonies are held at stations served by the award-winning trains.

E257 at Hachioji
The winner of the 2002 Blue Ribbon Award, an E257 series EMU at Hachioji on a Shinjuku-bound "Azusa" service
(Photo courtesy of A. Absolom)

List of past award winners

Year Blue Ribbon Award Laurel Award
2021Kintetsu type 80000 EMUJR-East type E261 EMU
JR-Tōkai type N700S Shinkansen EMU
2020Seibu Railway Company type 001 EMUShikoku Railway Company (JR Shikoku) type 2700 DMU
2019Odakyu Electric Railway Company type 70000 EMUSagami Railway Company type 20000 EMU
Eizan Electric Railway type deo-730 electric car "Hiei"
2018JR West 35 series coachJR East E353 series EMU
Tōbu 500 series "Revaty" EMU
Kagoshima City Tramways 7500 series "U-Tram III" EMU
JR Kyūshū BEC819 EMU
JR East E235 EMU
Echigo TOKImeki Railway Company type ET122 series 1000 DMU
Shizutetsu Shizuoka type A3000 EMU
Hanshin 5700 series EMU
HB-E210 series hybrid DMU JR East
New 260 series EMU Yokkaichi Asunarou Railway
JR East/JR WestE7 series/W7 series Shinkansen EMU
EV-E301 series battery EMU JR East
3000 series EMU Hakone Tozan Railway
Kintetsu 50000 series EMU
E6 Series Shinkansen JR East
F1000 series "Fukuram" tramcar Fukui Railway
Tokyo Metro 1000 series EMU
(No award)
JR East E5 Series Shinkansen EMU
Class HD300-900 hybrid locomotive JR Freight
Keisei AE series Skyliner EMU
16000 series EMU Tokyo Metro
JR East E259 series Narita Express EMU
22600 series Ace EMU Kintetsu
Odakyu 60000 series MSE EMU
T1000 series tramcar Toyohashi Railroad
3000 series Comfort Saloon EMU
JR Tokai & JR West N700 Series Shinkansen
E721 series/SAT721 EMU JR East/Sendai Airport Transit
KiHa E200 DMU JR East Keihan Electric Railway
Toyama Light Rail 0600 series "Portram"
E233 series EMU JR East
3000 series EMU Nishi-Nippon Railroad
Odakyu 50000 series VSE EMU
2000 series μSky EMU Nagoya Railroad (Meitetsu)
100 series Linimo Aichi Rapid Transit
5100 series Green Mover Max tramcar Hiroshima Electric Railway
3000 series EMU Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau
JR Freight M250 series Super Rail Cargo EMU
800 Series Shinkansen JR Kyushu
3000 series tramcar Nagasaki Electric Tramway
JR Shikoku 5100 type bilevel cab car Marine Liner EMU
(No award)
Kintetsu 21020 series Urban Liner Next EMU
9200 series "Momo" tramcar Okayama Electric Tramway
1000 series "U-tram" tramcar Kagoshima City Transportation Bureau
2002 JR East E257 series EMU JR West 187 series DMU
2001 JR Kyushu 885 series "Shiroi Kamome" EMU Meitetsu Mo 800 class tram
Kintetsu 3220/5820/9020 series "Series 21" EMU
2000 JR East E26 series "Cassiopeia" sleeper train Hiroshima Dentetsu 5000 class "Green Mover" tram
JR Central/West 700 series shinkansen
JR East 209-950 series (E231) EMU
1999 JR West/Central 285 series "Sunrise Express" EMU Skyrail Service 200 class monorail
1998 JR West 500 series "Nozomi" shinkansen Kumamoto Municipal Transportation Bureau 9700 class tram
Eizan 900 series "Kirara" EMU
Kintetsu 5800 series "L/C Car" EMU
1997 (No winner) JR Hokkaido 731 series EMU
1996 JR Kyushu 883 series "Sonic"EMU JR Freight KoKi71 "Car Rack System"
JR Central 383 series EMU
1995 Nankai 50000 series "Rapi:t" EMU JR Hokkaido 281 series "Super Hokuto" DMU
1994 (No winner) JR Freight DF200 class diesel locomotive
1993 JR Kyushu 787 series "Tsubame"EMU JR Central 300 series "Nozomi" shinkansen
JR Freight EF200 class electric locomotive
1992 Odakyu 20000 series "Asagiri" EMU JR East 253 series "Narita Express" EMU
JR Kyushu KiHa 200 DMU
1991 Tobu 100 series "Spacia" EMU JR East 251 series "Super View Odoriko" EMU
Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau 70 series EMU
1990 JR East 651 series "Super Hitachi" EMU JR West 221 series EMU
JR Shikoku TSE2000 series DMU
1989 Kintetsu 21000 series "Urban Liner" EMU JR Kyushu 783 series "Hyper Saloon" EMU
1988 Odakyu 10000 series "HiSE" EMU Sendai City Transportation Bureau 1000 series EMU
1987 JR Hokkaido KiHa 83/85 " Furano Express" DMU Kita-Osaka Kyuko 8000 series EMU
Kintetsu 7000 series EMU
JR Shikoku KiHa 185 DMU
1986 Izu Kyuko 2100 series "Resort 21" EMU Nankai 10000 series EMU
JNR 100 series shinkansen
1985 Meitetsu Mo 8800 class &quotPanorama DX" EMU TRTA 01 series EMU
Tarumi 180 class diesel railbus
1984 JNR 14-700 series "Salon Express Tokyo" coaches Keihan 6000 series EMU
1983 Keikyu 2000 series EMU JNR 200 series shinkansen
Kumamoto Municipal Transportation Bureau 8200 class tram
1982 Hakone Tozan 1000 class EMU Fukuoka Municipal Transportation Bureau 1000 series EMU
1981 Odakyu 7000 series "LSE" EMU JNR 117 series EMU
Nagasaki Tramway 2000 class tram
1980 Enoshima/Kamakura (Enoden) 1000 class EMU Meitetsu 100 series EMU
Hokuso Kaihatsu 7000 series EMU
Toyama Chiho 14760 series EMU
1979 Kintetsu 30000 series "Vista Car III" EMU Keikyu 800 series EMU
JNR 50 series coaches
1978 Kintetsu 12400 series EMU TOEI New 7000 class tram
Kobe Municipal Transportation Bureau 1000 series EMU
1977 Meitetsu 6000 series EMU Joshin 1000 series EMU
Sapporo City Transport Bureau 6000 series EMU
1976 Hankyu 6300 series EMU JNR KiHa 66/67 DMU
Tokyu 8500 series EMU
Fuji Kyuko 5000 class EMU
1975 (No winner) JNR 24/25 series coaches
Kurobe Valley EH class electric locomotive
1974 Keisei AE series "Skyliner" EMU Nishi Nippon 2000 series EMU
1973 JNR 183 series EMU Odakyu 9000 series EMU
1972 JNR 14 series coaches TRTA 6000 series EMU
1971 (No winner) Meitetsu Mo 699 class tram
1970 Seibu 5000 series "Red Arrow" EMU Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau 60 series EMU
1969 JNR EF66 class electric locomotive TOEI 6000 series EMU
1968 JNR 581 series "Gekko" EMU (No winner)
1967 Kintetsu 18200 series EMU Nagano Railway 0 series "OS Car" EMU
1966 Meitetsu 8000 series DMU Sapporo City Transport Bureau A830 class tram
1965 JNR 0 series shinkansen Sanyo Dentetsu 3000 EMU
1964 Odakyu 3100 series "NSE" EMU Keio 5000 series
1963 Kintetsu 20100 series "Aozora" EMU Keio 3000 series EMU
1962 Meitetsu 7000 series "Panorama Car" EMU JNR 401/421 series EMU
1961 JNR KiHa 81 "Hatsukari" DMU Keihan 2000/2300 series EMU
1960 Kintetsu 10100 series "Vista Car" EMU  
1959 JNR 151 series "Kodama" EMU
1958 Odakyu 3000 series "SE" EMU

Last Update: 1st September 2020

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