Thursday, October 11, 2012

Double Decker 215 and Japan's Wine Producing Area


Double decker EMU, JR East 215 series leaves Katsunuma-budokyo Station on the Chuo Line

It is not yet widely known to foreigners, but Japan has been producing wine for 130 years. Most of the wineries are centralized in Yamanashi prefecture, west of Tokyo. It is said that the Yamanashi-produced "Koshu" is the main domestically produced wine.

The production of Japanese wine started in 1877, when two Japanese students returned from France. They had studied advanced wine producing technologies there, and established the first Japanese wine producing company in Yamanashi Prefecture. Today, we can enjoy fresh grapes and tasty wine there. Especially from September to November, fruit and wine lovers flock to Yamanashi to enjoy the great fall products.

To enjoy the fresh fruit and wine on site, it is convenient to take the Chuo Line. For your information, the drink driving laws are very strict in Japan and there is usually huge traffic jams on the express way on weekends.

Last month, I took a rapid train on the Chuo Line, and headed to Yamanashi Prefecture. I got on the EMU JR East 215 series, a double decker train. This EMU was launched in 1992 to eliminate congestion in rush hour. A total of 4 sets, 40 units, have been manufactured. On weekends, the 215 series transform themselves from commuter to sightseeing trains. The view from the upper floor is excellent.

After getting off at Katsunuma-budokyo (Katsunuma Grape Country) Station, I visited several vineyards, wineries and a restaurant. Although new wine was still in the making, I enjoyed as many fresh grapes as I could.

Vineyards near Katsunuma-budokyo Station on the JR East Chuo Line

More information about EMU 215 series (in Japanese): http://www.jreast.co.jp/train/local/215.html