Sunday, 20 April 2014

Flower Mountain on the Mooka Railway

Diesel railcar, Mooka Type 14 arrives at Kita-Mooka Station on the Mooka Line
Spring is in full bloom in the Tokyo metropolitan area. My next destination was "Hana-no-yama (Flower Mountain) in Ibaraki Prefecture, some 100km north of Tokyo.

Hana-no-yama is a kind of so-called "Satoyama". It is woodland near a populated area. Satoyama is protected from the ravages of nature, but cultivated by local people to some extent, so, a particular kind of ecosystem is created. For instance, a hill adjacent to a paddy is a typical Satoyama. We can see unique fauna and flora there.

In Hana-no-yama, we can see beautiful blossoms in spring including cherry, peach, Thunberg's meadowsweet, and forsythia. The field is filled with blossoming colorful plants. It is a paradise-like hill.

To visit this beautiful spot, take the Mooka Railway and get off at Motegi Terminal. Connecting Shimodate and Motegi, the line length is 41.9 kilometers. The whole route is an un-electrified single track. A diesel rail car, Type Mooka 14 is the main fleet on the line. This rail car was launched in 2002 to replace old cars of Type 63. A total of nine units have been manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries and Nippon Sharyo. The Type 14 rail car has a checkered body. A red colored stripe with a white dashed line is added in the lower half of the body. It is quite unique and my favorite.

Hana-no-yama and the Type 14 rail car... the Mooka Railway is a colorful route in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

View of Hana-no-yama (flower mountain) near Motegi Station on the Mooka Line