Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Sunzu Line, Route to the 1200-year-old Hot Spring

EMU Izu-Hakone 3000 series (steel body train) leaves Mishima-Tamachi Station

Along with Izukyu (see my blog on April 9th, 2013), the Sunzu Line of Izu-Hakone Railway is another private railway route in Izu Peninsula. Connecting Mishima, a large city in the eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture, and Shuzenji, a 1,200-year-old hot spring town, there are 13 stations over a total operating length of 19.8km. The entire route is an electrified single track.

The origins of Shuzenji hot spring date back to the year 807, when a prominent Buddhist monk, Kobo Daishi visited there. It became famous in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when inns with indoor baths for visitors seeking hot-spring cures were constructed. Then, the Sunzu Line was fully opened in 1924, and the town became much busier with tourists.

One of the main fleets on the Sunzu Line is the EMU 3000 series, which was launched in 1979. A total of six sets, 18 units, have been manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo Company. The first four sets of the rolling stock are steel (see the top photo), but the second two sets are stainless-steel (see the following picture).

Currently, the trains are operated every 12 to 15 minutes. Some of the trains are directly operated into the JR Line. From Tokyo, it takes about two hours by the Odoriko Express train to Shuzenji Station.

At Shuzenji, which has a history going back 1,200 years, we can forget about the hustle and bustle of daily life and enjoy a luxurious hot spring.

EMU Izu-Hakone 3000 series (stainless-steel body train) arrives at Mishima-Tamachi Station
More information about the trains on the Sunzu Line (in Japanese):