Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Autumn Scenery in Yamanashi Prefecture: Part 2

EMU JR Central 373 series, special express "Ichikawa-Misato" travels on the Minobu Line

Following my previous post, I am going to show you another gorgeous autumn spot in Yamanashi prefecture.

Lake Shibire is located in the central part of Yamanashi Prefecture, about 100 km west of Tokyo. This small lake is surrounded by steep circular mountains, which are estimated as the outer ring of a volcanic caldera. The lake surface is 880 meters above sea level. The season of autumn leaves of Lake Shibire is very beautiful. We could see red, yellow and brown colored leaves that made a nice contrast with the blue sky. Specifically, I like to see an image of the scenery reflected on the lake surface.

To visit this mysterious lake, the nearest railway station is Kai-Iwama on the JR Central Minobu Line. On November 5th, a special express, "Ichikawa-Miasato" was operated between Hamamatsu and Kai-Iwama stations to transport sightseers to this resort area. "Ichikawa-Misato" is the name of the town, where Lake Shibire is located. The train commissioned for the special express, "Ichikawa-Misato" was the EMU JR Central 373 series, which is usually operated as a regular limited express, "Fujikawa".

For your information, Ichikawa-Misato is also known by its name seal-making. As you may know, name seal is a kind of stamp-printing used instead of signatures in Japan. For instance, contracts are often stamped with a name seal instead of being signed. Recently, name seal has become a popular souvenir for tourists from abroad.

Autumn in Yamanashi Prefecture is fun-filled.

Autumn scenery of Lake Shibire near Kai-Iwama Station on the JR Central Minobu Line

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Electric Car 1001: National Important Cultural Property

Electric car 1001 of the 1000 series is exhibited in the Subway Museum

I recently visited the Subway Museum (Tokyo Metro Museum) for the first time in six years. What was the news with this unique rail-fans' paradise?

On September 15th, the exhibited car, No. 1001 of the 1000 series, was designated as a National Important Cultural Property. The 1001 is Japan's first subway electric car. It had been operated on the Ginza Line, which is Japan's first subway route. The Ginza Line was opened in 1927 in Tokyo. The subway electric car, No. 1001, was also commissioned that year. It is a 15.5 meter-long small car built by Kisha-seizo. The sills, headers and rivets on the wall look very tough, but, the yellowish steel body with a reddish brown colored roof looks elegant.

From November 3rd to 5th of this year, the interior of the 1001 was opened on special occasions. Using this opportunity, I could examine the interior closely. For instance, I found that the indirect lighting system was adopted. The 1001 was probably Japan's first passenger car with the indirect lighting system. The 1001 traveled on the dark underground track all day long, so that the indirect lighting system was easy on the eyes of passengers. I also found that the floor was made of linoleum. In the 1920's, the floor of most passenger cars was made of wood, so that the linoleum floor was revolutionary. As you may know, linoleum is an incombustible substance, which is suitable for the subway car.

I never run out of things to talk about the subways.

Interior of electric car 1001

Official information about the Subway Museum (Tokyo Metro Museum):

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Autumn Foliage on the Sunzu Line

EMU JR East 185 series (block pattern painting) travels on the Sunzu Line

It is December already. A year has passed so soon. Before the New Year, I am going to hurry and show you the topic of this autumn.

Shuzenji is a small town on the Izu Peninsula, about 140 km southwest of Tokyo. It is famous for its hot spring and deep warm-temperate forest. Specifically, the forest of Japanese maple is very beautiful in the season of autumn foliage. I visited one such forest in Niji-no-sato (Rainbow Village) with my family last month. It was the best timing of autumn foliage. The Japanese maple leaves were turning scarlet and yellow in color. We fully enjoyed a stroll throughout the village in the gentle autumn sunlight, but that still wouldn't finish. After sunset, we enjoyed viewing autumn foliage again, as it was beautifully lit up. The night autumn leaves were also elegant.

To visit Shuzenji, the Sunzu Line of Izu-Hakone Railway is convenient. It takes about two hours from Tokyo by JR East's limited express train, "Odoriko", the EMU 185 series. This JR East train is directly operated onto Izu-Hakone Railway via Mishima Station. As I reported before, a media outlet recently stated that the EMU 185 series will be retired from the JR East and Izu-Hakone lines within a few years. It will be replaced by the EMU E257 series, which is currently operated on the Chuo Main Line.

Operation of the historical train, EMU JR East 185 series, will soon end.

Japanese maple leaves are lit up in Niji-no-sato (Rainbow Village) near Shuzenji Station