Saturday, 25 May 2019

Preserved Steam Locomotive in Kyoto Prefecture

Number 2 SL is exhibited at Kaya Steam Locomotive Square in Kyoto Prefecture

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Side view of number 2 SL

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Old Castle City in Kyoto Prefecture

Set F2 of the EMU JR West 223-5500 series stands at Fukuchiyama station

Fukuchiyama is an old city located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, some 600km west of Tokyo. As of the year 2018, it has a population of 77,000. Fukuchiyama has grown as the castle city since the 16th century. We can see the beautiful castle tower in the center of the city. The present building was reconstructed in 1985, but keeps its medieval style. It is also known as a gorgeous city viewing spot among local people, as it was constructed at the summit of a small hill.

To get to Fukuchiyama castle, the nearest railway station is Fukuchiyama on the JR West and Kyoto Tango Railway lines. When I visited there, I came across the EMU JR West 223-5500 series on the JR West Fukuchiyama line. It is a 2-car train for operating without conductors. A total of 16 sets, 32 cars, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo in 2008. The 223-5500 series is composed of 2 cars... one motor car (KuMoHa 223-5500) and one trailer (KuHa 223-5500). The electric control system is IGBT-VVVF (variable frequency drive). You can see a special pantograph on the roof for deforesting the trolley wire. For distinguishing the 223-5500 series from the other groups of the 223 series, look at the gangway on the front of the train. The 223-5500 series only has an orange colored stripe on it.

It is fun for me to perceive the fine difference among the EMU 223 series trains as a trainspotter.

Fukuchiyama castle near Fukuchiyama station

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Old Express Train in Kyoto Prefecture

DMU KTR001 series travels on the Miyatoyo line, Kyoto Tango Railway

The northern part of Kyoto Prefecture is one of my favorite places. Different from the city of Kyoto, it is idyllically calm and peaceful.

Where is the recommended place to visit? My favorite spot is Hanare-ko (Lake Hanare) in Kyotango City. It is just a tiny lake surrounded by a residential area, but it is a nice place for strolling. Specifically, I like a small peninsula named Hanare-yama (Mt. Hanare) on the southern side of the lake. It is a natural mountain with an ancient mounded tomb at the summit. The full-blown cherries in spring are famous for local people.

To get to this cozy spot, the nearest railway station is Amino on the Kyoto Tango Railway. It takes about two hours from Kyoto by limited express trains, Hashidate, Konotori (stork) or Tango-relay. Usually, the DMU KTR8000 series is operated for Tango-relay, but the DMU KTR001 series was temporally commissioned when I visited there last month. It was lucky for nostalgic train lovers like me. 

The DMU KTR001 series was launched in 1990. A total of 2 sets, 6 units, are built by Fuji Heavy Industries. Currently, one set (set number 2) is still operated on the track as a temporally replacement train. The KTR001 series is a high-decker train having beautiful "champagne gold" bodies. The maximum speed is 120 kilometers per hour. One set has 6 diesel engines. Although the scars are conspicuous on the bodies, the old express train still works on the track in Kyoto Prefecture.

Hanare-ko (Lake Hanare) near Amino station, Kyoto Tango Railway