Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2017 Sakura Season on the Tokaido Main Line

EMU E231 series arrives at Manazuru Station on the Tokaido Main Line

Sakura (cherry) blossoms die away so quickly. The 2017 Sakura blooming season has ended in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Following the urban cherry viewing spot on the Chuo Local Line, I am going to show you another spot in the countryside to keep in my mind.

Arai-joshi is a small local park in Manazuru Town, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 100 km southwest of Tokyo. We can see the early blooming weeping-cherry there, because the influx of the Kuroshio Warm Current has influenced the temperate climate of Manazuru Town. In early April, local people hold the Cherry Festival in the park. They leisurely enjoy eating, chatting, dancing, and singing with their families, friends, and neighbors. They also warmly welcome visitors from outside of the town.

To get to this cherry blossom viewing spot, I took the JR East Tokaido Main Line and got off at Manazuru Station. It takes about one and a half hours by rapid train from Tokyo Station. My return train was the E231 series, which had two double-decker Green Cars (the first class cars). Getting on the Green Cars, I could relax and return home. The extra cost of the Green Cars was 780 yen.

Why did I use the Green Cars? It was because I was rather drunk. I was enthusiastically welcomed by local people, who recommended glasses of sake (Japanese rice wine) to me. The train had just arrived at Tokyo Station when I woke up.

Full blown weeping-cherry tree, Arai-joshi Park near Manazuru Station

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Slope Car on a Golf Course

Slope car, 16V3 of the Type KSC-10MS, in Manna Country Club, Chiba Prefecture

I sometimes play golf with my friends or colleagues. It is a basically non-train spotting time, but as it happens, I found a railway-related facility last weekend.

Please look at the photos. It is a slope car operated on a golf course of Manna Country Club in Chiba Prefecture, about 50 km east of Tokyo. This course is located in a hilly area, so, the slope car is convenient to transport golfers and golf sticks between the club house and the starter house of the course. Crossing a surface public road and an underground expressway (the Metropolitan Inter-City Expressway), its route length is about 100 m. The track and the stations were constructed by Kaho Monorail Company in 2005.

The vehicle is a 2-car train consisting of a passenger car and a freight car. It is named 16V3 of the Type KSC-100MS, also built by Kaho Monorail Company in 2005. The passenger car can hold up to 10 golfers. It has soft seats and an air-conditioner. The golfers can enjoy a superb view of the Kujukuri Plain and the blue colored Pacific Ocean from the train windows. The freight car can transport two carts and many sets of golf sticks. It is a powerful transporter, isn't it?

The scenic golf course and the unique slope car... I could relax on a beautiful weekend. How was my score? Oh, please refrain from asking this question, as it has no connection with the subject of this railway blog.

Slope car, 16V3, stands at Club House Station in Manna Country Club

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wakashio: The Peninsula Express on the Sotobo Line

EMU JR East E257-500 series, limited express "Wakashio" travels on the Keiyo Line

Boso is a large peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. It is situated between the Pacific Ocean and Tokyo Bay. Along with Izu, Boso Peninsula is a famous resort area for enjoying marine activities.

To get to this peninsula resort, there are three access routes. Firstly, you can take a highway bus operated via Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway. Passing through a submarine tunnel (9.6km) and a bridge (4.4km), it takes one hour to get from Tokyo to Kisarazu, a western gateway city to the peninsula. Secondly, you can take a JR East Uchibo Line train. The limited express Sazanami (ripples) is the representative train to the western side of the peninsula. It also takes one hour from Tokyo to Kisarazu going around the coast of the bay. Thirdly, you can take a JR East Sotobo Line train to the eastern side of the peninsula. The limited express, Wakashio (transitional tide between spring and neap tides), is the representative train. It is operated between Tokyo on the Keiyo Line and Awa-Kamogawa on the Sotobo Line.

Currently, the main carrier of Wakashio limited express trains is the EMU E257-500 series. It was launched in 2004, replacing the old trains the EMU 183 and 189 series. The blue, white and yellow, three-toned body is very vivid. The blue stands for the ocean, the white stands for the beach and the yellow stands for the canola flowers in Chiba Prefecture. It is operated as a 5-car or a 10-car train depending on each time zone.

Limited express train, "Wakashio", arrives at Awa-Kamogawa Station on the Sotobo Line