Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Difficult to Read" Stations on the Abiko Branch Line

EMU JR East 231 series arrives at Kioroshi Station on the Abiko Branch Line of the Narita Line
The JR East Abiko Line is a branch line of the Narita Line. This route was opened in 1901 by ex-Narita Railway Company. Connecting Abiko on the Joban Line and Narita on the Narita Line, there are 10 stations over the total operating length of 32.9 km. The track is a 1,067-mm-gauge single track and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. JR East's standard commuter train, the EMU E231 series (a 5-car or a 10-car train), is operated every half an hour on average.

One of the features of this route is that there are many "difficult to read" stations on the line. As you may know, Japanese people use Kanji in conjunction with Hiragana and Katakana for written language. Kanji, which are normally used for name of the place, are ideographical representations of objects and ideas. In other words, there are several readings for one Kanji character. That is the great difficulty of the Japanese language, even for Japanese people.

For instance, Abiko, which is the terminal of the line, is very difficult to read. I think that strangers, who don't know the Tokyo metropolitan area, cannot read it. They probably read it "Wagasonshi". Kioroshi Station is also difficult to read. Strangers read it as "Kinoshita" beyond any doubt because Kinoshita is a common family name in Japan. There are many other difficult to read stations such as Ajiki and Shimousa-Manzaki on the Abiko Branch Line.

Travelling on the Abiko Branch Line is a fun quiz hour for strangers.

EMU JR East E231 series stands at Abiko Station on the Abiko Branch Line of the Narita Line