Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Limestone Train and Autumn Color in Chichibu

Limestone train pulled by the EL type Chichibu DeKi 500 stands at Nagatoro Station
 
Viewing colorful autumn leaves is one of the indulgences that Japanese people have during fall. Leaves turn yellow, red and brown. A representative yellowish leaf is from the gingko tree.

Gingko are often planted as roadside trees. You can see gingko trees here and there in the Tokyo metropolitan area; but Chichibu Muse Park is something special. I saw that many people were enjoying a stroll on the gingko street over the entire length of 3km in the park last weekend (see the following picture). It has turned yellow and started defoliation.

To visit this long beautiful gingko street, take Chichibu Railway and get off at Chichibu Station. You can transfer to a bus to Chichibu Muse Park easily from the station. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the park.

On the way back home, I saw a limestone train at Nagatoro Station on the Chichibu Railway (see the top photo). Most private railway companies in Japan have abolished their freight transportation after being hard hit by the growing truckload transportation; but, Chichibu Railway still operates freight train, because a limestone mine on the line still needs it.

The limestone train was pulled by a classic electric locomotive (EL), unit number 503 of the type DeKi 500. Number 503 was manufactured by Hitachi Ltd in 1979. In the past, almost all Japanese ELs had decks like this; but, this design was faded out from an engineering viewpoint.

The DeKi 500 is a precious classic EL on the Chichibu Railway.
 
Gingko trees in Chichibu Muse Park near Chichibu Station, Chichibu Railway