Monday, June 17, 2013

The E257 "Kaiji" and Japanese Azalea on the Chuo Line


EMU JR East E257 series, "Kaiji" arrives at Shinjuku Station on the Chuo Line

It's rainy season in Tokyo. It is a gloomy period for Tokyoites before midsummer, but it is also pleasure to see some kinds of beautiful flowers, which only bloom in this season. Along with the hydrangea and iris, the Japanese azalea (Renge-tsutsiji) is my favorite flower in June. Mt. Amari in Yamanashi Prefecture is a reputable spot for viewing it.

Mt. Amari is located about 120km west of Tokyo. The altitude of the summit is 1,731meters, not as high as the surrounding mountains, but it is famous in spite of its altitude because there is a large natural community of Japanese azaleas around the summit.

Look at the following photo. It is a full blown Japanese azalea community seen in the vicinity of the summit. Tangerine colored blossoms that show up the light green colored leaves. When I visited there, the summit of Mt. Amari was enveloped in a mist. It was a very mysterious scenery.

To visit this beautiful spot, take the JR East Chuo Line. The limited express, "Kaiji" is convenient to get to Kofu, the main city of Yamanashi Prefecture. You should, then, transfer to a local train and get off at Nirasaki Station.

The main fleet of "Kaiji" trains is the EMU E257 series, which was commissioned in 2001 (see the top photo). One of the features of this EMU is the positioning of the air conditioners. To keep its under-slung body, all of the air conditioners are equipped under the floors. As a result, the roof of the train is flat and clear.
 
Japanese Azalea commuity in Mt. Amari (1,731m) near Nirasaki Station on the Chuo Line