Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Okayama, Gateway City to Shikoku Island


EMU JR Shikoku 8000 series, Limited Express "Shiokaze" stands at Okayama Station

After staying at Kamigori Town in Hyogo Prefecture (see my blog on December 4th, 2012), I moved to Okayama, a main city of Okayama Prefecture. Okayama functions as not only an administrative center of the prefecture, but also a key junction of regional transportation. We can see a wide variety of trains at Okayama Station. It is a railfan's paradise!

Look at the top photo. It is a train to Shikoku Island, EMU JR Shikoku 8000 series, "Shiokaze (sea breeze)". The 8000 series is a DC (direct current) train launched in 1992. A total of 12 sets of 48 units have been manufactured in Hitachi and Nihon Sharyo. It is like a worm, isn't it?

As its name suggests, "Shiokaze" crosses the Seto Inland Sea, and heads to Matsuyama, a major city in Ehime Prefecture. En route, the Shiokaze passes over the 13.1km Seto Ohashi Bridge (the world's longest two-tier bridge).

In the meantime, Okayama City is also well known for "Korakuen", a famous Japanese Feudal Lord's garden (see the following photo). Along with Kairakuen, in Mito and Kenrokuen, in Kanazawa, Korakuen is one of three great gardens of Japan. It was ordered by Nagatada Tsuda to begin construction in 1687, and completed in 1700. Taking this opportunity I visited there, and enjoyed the gorgeous autumn leaves and tasty Kibi-dango (local soft rice cake) with Maccha (Japanese green powdered tea).

Needless to say, I could enjoy feeling like a "Daimyo", a medieval feudal lord of Japan.

Korakuen Park near Okayama Station
 
More information about EMU JR Shikoku 8000 series (in Japanese)