Monday, 23 December 2013

Winter Tulip on the Minato Line

Classic diesel rail car, Hitachinaka KiHa 205 is seen on the Minato Line
Finally autumn has gone and winter is here in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The leaves have started defoliating. The maximum daytime temperature is about 10 degrees Celcius.

Although it has a short flowery season, we can see beautiful blossoms of winter tulips in several places. The winter tulip, also known as Ice Tulip, blooms in mid-winter instead of spring. The bulb of an Ice Tulip is kept in the fridge, and experiences a "pseudo-winter" in advance. The bulb is, then, planted outside. It flowers even in December, as it has already experienced a cold winter in the fridge.

To see this winter gift, I visited Hitachi Kaihin Park on the very day of the winter solstice. It is located near Ajigaura Station on the Minato Line of Hitachinaka Kaihin Railway. Connecting Katsuta on the JR East Joban Line and Ajigaura, the line is only 14.3km with 9 stations. The whole route is un-electrified single track.

The top photo is the classic diesel rail car, KiHa205, which was manufactured in 1965 by Teikoku Sharyo. After retirement from Mizushima Rinkai Railway, KiHa205 was moved to Hitachinaka Rinkai Railway in 1996.

This rail car is frequently called "JNR type". JNR, which stands for Japanese National Railways was split into seven railway companies and privatized. During the JNR era, plenty of diesel rail cars like the top photo were introduced to railways all over Japan. You can see the characteristics of JNR type railcars in the front design, body coloring and so on.


 Winter tulip is seen in Hitachi Kaihin Park near Ajigaura Station on the Minato Line