Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Ozashiki 485 "Utage", Party Train in Japan

Set G4+G5 of the EMU JR East 485 series "Utage" stands at Shinjuku Station

The season of school excursions ended with the beginning of the rainy season. I no longer see the school excursion trains in Shinjuku Station. Instead, another special train has been coming to Shinjuku in the early mornings of this week.

Look at the top photo. It is the set G4+G5 of the EMU 485 series "Utage", which belongs to JR East's Oyama Rail Yard. Utage (feast or party) is the so-called "ozashiki train", whose interior is arranged as a Japanese-type room. For instance, the floor is straw-matted with Japanese-style low tables so that the passengers are relaxed taking off their shoes as if they are at home. Typically, Utage is used for group tours. Most of the passengers are friends, families, and groups from work. As its name suggests, the passengers can enjoy a party in the Utage train.

The Utage train was commissioned in 1994 after being renovated from a standard limited express train. It is an AC-DC (Alternate Current - Direct Current) dual system train, which is composed of 6 cars. Thanks to the dual system, Utage can be operated on most of the tracks except non-electrified ones.

I haven't had an opportunity to get on the Utage train up to now; but, I often see passengers enjoying a party on this train from the station platform. They were chatting, drinking sake (rice wine) and sometimes singing.

You will find the Japanese lifestyle on the Utage train.

Side view of KuRo 485-1, the EMU JR East 485 series "Utage"