Monday, 20 May 2013

Ex-Silk Mill and ex-Seibu Train

EMU Joshin 500 (ex-Seibu 101) series stands at Shimonita Station (April, 2012)

Japan has experienced great changes since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. It was a revolution from the Samurai era to the modern era. When Japan's period of isolation ended and the Meiji Restoration began, Japan tried to catch up with the West.

The new government established a national enterprise and ran it to set up industries. One such action for modernization was to build a state-owned silk mill in Tomioka City. This city is located 150km northwest of Tokyo and had been known for its sericultural industry. The state-owned Tomioka Silk Mill started in 1872 importing technology and machines from France.

Today, the Tomioka Silk Mill is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan (see the following photo). You can see the brick buildings and old machines along with volunteer guides. To get to this ex-silk mill, Joshin Electric Railway is convenient. Joshin connects Takasaki, a major city in Gunma Prefecture and Shimonita, a mountain foot town of Mt. Myogi. The line is 33.7km long with 20 stations. Joshu-Tomioka, which is the nearest station from the ex-silk mill, is the twelfth station from Takasaki Terminal.

One of the fleets of this small local private railway is an EMU 500 series (see the top photo). It was operated on the Seibu Railway from the 1980's to the early 2000's, and was moved to Joshin in 2005 to spend its second life after retirement.

The ex-Silk Mill and the ex-Seibu Train... Tomioka is a historical city in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Ex-silk mill near Joshu-Tomioka Station on the Joshin Electric Railway