Amazing Excel uses in Japan

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In Japan there are two amazing uses of Excel.  Excel used for displaying train timetables and to make beautiful works of art.

The Michelangelo of Excel

Tatsuo Horiuchi has become the Michelangelo of Excel.  On retirement he wanted to turn to art but didn’t want the expense of paint, brushes etc.  He turned to his computer and gave himself 10 years (!) to learn how to draw using Excel’s tools.

He makes use of the drawing tools in Excel (also in Word and PowerPoint) to make his creations and the results are astonishing.

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See a full gallery at

If you’d like to follow in Horiuchi San’s footsteps, there’s a simple how-to that can get you started.

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Excel for train timetables

There was a minor Twitter storm when NDR (@ndr_tw) posted a photo from a Nagoya, Japan train timetable.  The poster clearly shows that the timetable is made in Microsoft Excel.

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The giveaway is the filename (right, bottom) complete with .XLS extension (!)

Other users checked their timetables and discovered they also came from Excel.

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At least this bus timetable using the newer, safer workbook formats like .xlsx or .xlsm.

Why is anyone is surprised?

Excel isn’t just for crunching numbers that are typed or pasted in.  It’s a powerful tool for importing data and displaying it in different ways.  Our Real Time Excel book is all about taking the latest info from the Internet (like stock prices and currency rates) and link them automatically in Excel.

Most likely, the train company has a complex database that maintains their scheduling.  That information can be linked into an Excel worksheet and ‘massaged’ into a presentable poster for customers.

The only surprise (disappointment) is that an old .XLS file format is still being used in 2019!

If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know that their public transport is astonishing efficient and timely.  If Excel is part of that system, even with old document formats, they’re welcome to keep using it.

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