There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new company in Z scale, Rokuhan of Japan. The talk has been centered around their new track system. Visually this system has the basic look of Micro-Trains Micro-Track and KATO Unitrack but with a much wider tie spacing, reminiscent of the Marklin tie spacing. A major feature of this track system is that the turnouts have the switch motor hidden under the plastic roadbed. Slick.
In addition to the standard Z scale turnout, which is a 490mm, 13 degree piece, Rokuhan will be releasing what looks to be a half-size turnout in the near future. This should make small layout and logging enthusiasts very happy.
We spoke today with Tony Ichikawa, Chairman of Rokuhan about the new Rokuhan track system.
Can you tell us about Rokuhan’s company history?
My name is Tony Ichikawa, owner for both Toytec corporation and Rokuhan company limited. I am an engineer, we also have another 80 engineers for the group. We are basically an engineering company for toys. It is still going on at Toytec corporation but Rokuhan has been newly established in April of last year. Rokuhan means 6.5 and concentrates on Z scale model trains not only for track but also for locomotives, structures, everything… but started from our track work.
What is your position at Rokuhan?
I am chairman of Rokuhan, also the owner.
With track already being produced for Z scale by other manufacturers, why has Rokuhan decided to move into track production?
We know a couple of companies are doing track business but it is not related to our business. Also, we have no tracks in the Japanese market. We would like to establish our own system in Z scale to be No.1 in the world for Z scale in track.
We are an engineering company for both mechanical and electronics thus we would put our brand new Japanese technology into our track to be able to supply modern railway systems.
The tie spacing on your track. This appears to be closer to the Marklin Z scale tie spacing (European) than what we see here on our North American railroads. Do you see this as a negative for the North American market?
As for tie spacing, real railway, which we believe Japanese railway even U.S and European are probably be more or less same, but we feel MTL track tie spacing seems too narrow and not natural, although it is real tie spacing. A lot of N gauge in the market which is similar tie spacing though the gauge is different. We are very interested in North American market thus no reason to be negative.
What do you feel are the benefits of the Rokuhan track system?
Size and scale are exactly same as Marklin or MTL.
Tracks with track bed which is required for consumer to be easier to handle and play.
Metal rail size is based on European standard.
All our system is based on NMRA standard thus all trains can run on it as long as it is based on NMRA.
Metal joiner is very special designed thus easy to fit with other track and stable connection. We believe that everybody understand once they try it.
We have 110mm turnout right and left. Half size 55mm turnout right and left will be available shortly. Those are all remote turnout together with the manual. We have patent inside as all mechanisms are installed inside to be easier layout. These turnouts are the first one in the world in Z scale. R to R turnout is available shortly.
Our system will be expanded more and more to be similar with the Marklin system, but using brand new technology. We have already provided the tools from R70 up to R270. Of course R490 is available for turnout use. Flexible track will be available shortly, which is our patent, and able to adjust any radii or any length together with its track bed. Track bed is made of plastic and with the same design as our regular track.
Availability. Do you have US distributors / dealers in place at this time? When can expect to see your track for sale in the US?
We have already been in discussion with many distributors, including North American distributors. The products are ready to ship out but not yet confirmed how we can deal with them. We do hope we can ship them out A.S.A.P.