Monday, 23 April 2018

Fresh Green and Special Poster Train in Chichibu City

7505F of the EMU 7500 series travels on the Chichibu Railway line

The sakura (cherry) blooming season passed very quickly in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is a fresh green season now. I recently visited Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture to enjoy spring with my family.

Mitsumine is a mountainous area in Chichibu City. It takes about two hours and a half from Tokyo by train. The most popular spot in the area is Mitsumine shrine, which is a famous Shinto shrine located on the summit of Mt. Mitsumine (1,102 meters above sea level). On the way to the shrine, I could see beautiful fresh green from the bus window. It covered slopes of mountains along Arakawa River. They were light green colored and mixed with dark green colored coniferous trees. The contrast between the green forests and the blue sky was exquisite.

The gateway station to Mitsumine shrine is Mitsumine-guchi, which is the westernmost terminal of Chichibu Railway line. This local company operates trains from Hanyu on the Tobu-Isesaki Line to Mitsumine-guchi (71.7 kilometers). One of the famous trains on the line is 7505F of the EMU 7500 series (ex-Tokyu 8090 series). It is a poster train for promoting tourism to famous Shinto shrines on the line including Mitsumine shrine. The standard color design of the 7500 series is just green stripes with a yellow accent. In contrast, we can see many "gods" on the bodies of this poster train. Needless to say, 7505F stands out conspicuously among the group of the 7500 series.

Spring is in full swing in the Chichibu area.

Fresh green is seen near Mitsumine-guchi Station on the Chichibu Railway line

Friday, 20 April 2018

Classic Streetcar in Kochi City

Electric car Tosaden Kotsu 202 of the 200 series travels on the Sambashi Line

Kochi is the main city of Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island. It has grown as the castle city of the lords of Tosa Province since the early 17th century. Currently, Kochi has a population of 332,000, which is a mid-sized city in Japan.

To my joy, Kochi has a superior tram network operated by Tosaden Kotsu. They have three routes in the city. The total line length is 25.3km, which is the second largest tram network in Japan. The eclectic system is 600 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

One of my favorite streetcars is the 200 series, which was commissioned in 1950. A total of 21 units were built by Hitachi, Teikoku Sharyo and Tosaden's own factory. Although more than 60 years have passed since it debuted, 14 units are still operated as leading electric cars. They have 11 m-long short steel bodies with two 38 kW DC motors. They are old nose suspension drive cars.

The 200 series is a sister car of the Toei 6000 series, which was operated in Tokyo Metropolis from 1947 to 2001. There are only minor differences between the two models such as the positions of the front lights.

I like the 200 series, specifically car number 201 and 202. They have large air-conditioner boxes and a bow collector on the roof. These air conditioner boxes were installed later. The large central window on the front mask was also different from the original design.

Electric car Tosaden Kotsu 202 of the 200 series stands at Kochi-ekimae Stop

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

2018 Sakura Season in Yokohama: The Keikyu Line

EMU Keikyu 2100 series passes through Nokendai station

Yokohama is located southwest of Tokyo and is the main city of Kanagawa prefecture. It is the second largest city in Japan in terms of population after Tokyo. As of the year 2017, this city has an estimated population of 3.7 million. Along with Tokyo, Yokohama has many places famous for sakura (cherry) blossoms. Today, I am going to show you one of those spots in the western part of Yokohama.

Yokohama shizen-kansatsu no mori (Forest of Yokohama Nature Observation) is a large nature protection area. You can observe many precious birds there. In this season, my favorite one is Japanese nightingale, because the male beautifully sings "hoh-hokekyo" in the forest. It is so gorgeous that I often look for him, but it is very difficult to find out and shoot his photo. Instead of moving around Japanese nightingales, sakura trees are photogenic. We can see the fully bloomed sakura trees on the slope of mountains. They have light pink-colored blossoms, which show a vivid contrast with the blue sky.

To get to this precious urban forest, the nearest station is Kanazawa-Hakkei on the Keikyu line. It takes 36 minutes from Shinagawa, a subcenter of Tokyo, by rapid-express train. You can enjoy a pleasant journey boarding on Keikyu's flagship model named EMU 2100 series. It is an express train with rotating cross seats. A total of 10 sets were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

Sakura blossoms on the Keikyu line are definitely my cup of tea.

Fully bloomed sakura (cherry) trees in Forest of Yokohama Nature Observation