Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Yellow Train on the Keikyu Line

Keikyu's "Happy Yellow Train", 1057F of the EMU 1000 series stands at Shinagawa Station
 
What is the lucky color in your country? Perhaps, green and yellow are lucky colors for Brazilians. Sky blue and yellow must be for Ukrainians, judging from its national flag. Are red and white Japanese people's lucky colors? I don't necessarily think so. Currently, yellow seems to be a lucky color for Tokyoites.

In Tokyo, it is said that a person who rides a yellow colored train will obtain happiness. I don't know exactly why such kind of a rumor is being spread by Tokyoites, but it's probably because yellow colored trains are rare in this city. In 2011, Toei (Tokyo Metropolitan Government) and Tokyu jointly launched a special campaign to boost passenger numbers by using their rare yellow colored rolling stock. These two operators recommended riding yellow colored trains to obtain happiness.

Following Toei and Tokyu, Keikyu launched the "Happy Yellow Train" this year. It is set number 1057F of the EMU 1000 series commuter train. As you may know, Keikyu's corporate color is red. Most of the Keikyu trains are known as red ones; however, the body of Happy Yellow Train is painted yellow, which is similar to those of traditional Seibu trains, such as the 2000N series. Using the Happy Yellow Train, Keikyu is promoting the scenic Miura Peninsula, Tokyo International Airport and so on to passengers. Keikyu recommends Tokyoites ride the Happy Yellow Train to obtain happiness.

I hope that Happy Yellow Train brings about a breath of fresh air to Tokyoites.

 
EMU Keikyu 1000 series (standard color) arrives at Shinagawa Station

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Enoden 300 Series: Retro Train on the Shonan Coast

Set number 305-355 of the EMU Enoden 300 series leaves Inamuragasaki Station
 
I have introduced the Enoden's retro-looking train, the EMU 10 series and the 20 series. I am going to show you the real retro train, the EMU Enoden 300 series next.

Enoden, Enoshima Electric Railway, is a local tram line connecting Fujisawa and Kamakura cities. Its operating length is only 10km. The 300 series was launched in 1956 as Enoden's first articulated train. A total of 6 sets, 12 units, have been manufactured, but today, only one set, two units, are at work. The only survivor, set number 305-355, was manufactured in 1960 by Toyoko Sharyo. The body was originally from the Keio 2000 series. Its bogies were newly manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo. I'm particularly fond of the large "forehead" and two large rounded front lights.

The 300 series is the most Enoden-like train, because it is often carried on TV dramas and commercials. It has a telegenic appearance. The two-tone body fits the historical street-scape in Kamakura City. It also stands out against the background of the blue Pacific Ocean and the green mountain forest that surrounds the city.

I know that the Enoden on TV is beautiful, but the true beautiful scene on the Enoden is seen in reality. In 1998, a boy suffering from cardiomyopathy visited Enoden's Gokurakuji Rail Yard. He was delighted to drive a train himself with the company's special grace. Four days after the boy fulfilled his life's dream, he passed away quietly.

It is a true story.

 
Set number 305-355 of the Enoden 300 series runs on the shared track near Koshigoe Station

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Photogenic Spot for Rail Fans

EMU Odakyu 2000 series travels on the Odawara Line
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency made an announcement that this year's rainy season ended on July 21st in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which means summer has begun. Although it is very hot outside, I enjoy visiting my favorite spot on the Odakyu Line. It is a photogenic spot for taking pictures of trains shining in the sun without being distracted by overhead wire poles.

Firstly, I am going to show you the EMU 2000 series, my favorite model on the Odakyu Line. It was launched in 1994 to replace old models such as the 2600 series. A total of 9 sets, 72 units, have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The 2000 series is similar to the 1000 series, but the 2000 has wider doors (1,600mm) and LED displays on the front. The silver stainless steel body with a blue stripe is very beautiful under the summer sunshine.

Secondly, the following photo was taken just before a rain shower. It was the EMU 8000 series, also my favorite model, as the last of the fully painted steel body commuter trains on the Odakyu Line. It was launched in 1982 to reinforce Odakyu's commuter trains fleet. A total of 32 sets, 160 units, have been manufactured over 6 years by Nippon Sharyo, Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Its major assignment is as an express train to transport commuters from the western suburbs to the city center of Tokyo.

2014 summer season has only just begun.

 
EMU Odakyu 8000 series travels on the Odawara Line

Friday, July 25, 2014

Classic Rail Cars and Katakuri Blossoms

Diesel rail cars, JR East KiHa 40-1000 series, travel on the Karasuyama Line
 
As I mentioned before, the JR East Karasuyama Line is a beautiful local line in Tochigi Prefecture, some 120km north of Tokyo. I am going to show you two more pictures on the line today.

Firstly, I would love to show you a classic rail car, KiHa 40-1000 series, operated on the Karasuyama Line. Although, a brand new accumulator train, EMU EV-E301 series, has been introduced to the track since March this year, the KiHa 40-1000 series is still operated as the major rolling stock on this route.

The KiHa 40-1000 is a standard diesel railcar for local lines. It was launched in 1977 by Japanese National Railways (JNR). Today, the Karasuyama Line is the only route where we can see the KiHa 40-1000 series in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Specifically, the vermilion and cream two-toned body, the so-called JNR color train, is my cup of tea.

Secondly, I am going to show you beautiful blossoms on the Karasuyama Line. Along with Nippon bells, Katakuri (Japanese Dogtooth Violet) is one of my favorite plants. It produces lovely pale purple blossoms in the forest from late March to early April. It heralds the arrival of spring. Katakuri-yama Park near Karasuyama Station is famous for its beautiful natural masses of Katakuri. They have been carefully-protected and fostered by local people. Many holidaymakers visit there in the blooming season to celebrate the coming of spring.

Enjoying the classic colored DMU and lovely Katakuri blossoms... the Karasuyama Line is a satisfactory spot to visit in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

 
Katakuri blossoms are seen in Katakuri-yama Park near Karasuyama Station

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Undergoing Generation Change: The Yokohama Line

Old generation train, the EMU JR East 205 series on the Yokohama Line
 
As I reported before, JR East launched a new model, the EMU E233-6000 series, on the Yokohama Line on February 16th this year. The company plans to introduce 28 sets, 224 units, of the E233-6000 series by this August, which means that the entire existing 205 series will be retired from the Yokohama Line soon. I visited Nagatsuta Station last weekend to take photographs of the 205 series and to say "sayonara (goodbye)" to those old trains.

I stood and waited for the 205 series at the end of the platform, but only the new model trains came into the platform one after another. It started to rain after a period of time and there was no roof at the end of the platform. Rail fans indeed require patience.

One hour later, the rain stopped. The long-awaited train, set number H28 of the EMU 205 series, arrived at platform number 2 of Nagatsuta Station. It was nearly 6 o'clock in the evening. I could shoot the photographs just before sunset.

As of July 12th, 2014, it is said that half of the 205 series trains have already left Kamakura Rail Yard, the home depot of the 205 series. According to the media, 21 sets will be transferred to Jakarta to spend their "second life" on the tracks in Indonesia; while the others will be scrapped(?).

Sayonara the 205 series and welcome the E233-6000 series onto the Yokohama Line.

 
New generation train, the EMU JR East E233-6000 series on the Yokohama Line

Monday, July 21, 2014

The 50th Anniversary of Shinkansen

Unit number 21-86 of the EMU Shinkansen 0 series is preserved in SCMAGLEV and Railway Park
 
The "Shinkansen" is the bullet train that represents Japanese railways. Its total network length is nearly 2,700km and there are 1 million passengers per day. The first Shinkansen, namely Tokaido Shinkansen, was opened between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka in 1964, just before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.

The first model, the EMU 0 series, achieved a maximum speed of 210 kilometers/hour (133MPH). It was the world speed record of commercial trains at that time. Since then, Japanese National Railways and its successors, JR companies, have launched 16 models one after another. The fastest ones are the EMU E5 and the E6 series, which have a maximum speed of 320km/hour (199MPH); but more importantly, there have been no fatal passenger accidents on the Shinkansen so far.

This year, Shinkansen is celebrating 50 years of operation. JR group, especially JR Central, plans plenty of memorial events on the Tokaido Shinkansen. Events such as special exhibitions and special tours are being held. Currently, we can see many posters and decorations to celebrate the anniversary in Tokyo station yard.

It is also worth noting that I have wispy memories about the "Pre-Shinkansen era" in my childhood. Getting onto the limited express train, Kodama (echo) of the EMU 151 series, I visited Shizuoka Prefecture with my parents for a summer vacation. I still remember that I enjoyed looking out the window at the passing scenery. Currently, it is difficult to enjoy the scenery from the Shinkansen windows due to the high speed of the trains.

Shinkansen travels toward its next half a century.

 
The 50th anniversary posters of the Tokaido Shinkansen are seen in Tokyo Station yard
 
More information about the Tokaido Shinkansen:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Kodomonokuni Line: Access to the Children's Land

EMU Yokohama Minato Mirai Y000 series arrives at Nagatsuta Terminal on the Kodomonokuni Line
 
Kodomonokuni (Children's Land) is an amusement park operated by a social welfare corporation, Kodomonokuni Association, in Yokohama City, some 30km west of Tokyo. Construction started in 1959 in celebration of the marriage of the Crown Prince Akihito (reigning emperor), and was completed in 1965. The large site was an ammunitions store area until WWII.

Although Kodomonokuni was a popular spot among urban families, there was a big issue... public transportation to get there. Kodomonokuni Association, then, constructed an access railway, the Kodomonokuni Line in 1967.

The Kodomonokuni Line is a short (3.4km) single track railway connecting Kodomonokuni and Nagatsuta on the Tokyu Denentoshi and JR East Yokohama lines. The electric system is 1,500V DC overhead. Currently, the owner is Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway and the trains are operated by Tokyu Corporation.

The present EMU, Y000 series is the only model on the Kodomonokuni Line. It debuted in 1999 as the fifth generation train on the route. A total of 3 sets, 6 units, have been manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo. To reduce the manufacturing costs, it has a common design and specifications with Tokyu's EMU 3000 series on the Meguro Line.

The blue and yellow stripes on the stainless body are vivid and popular among kids. The train is always crowded with families at the end of each week. It is also crowded on weekdays with boys and girls joining school excursions from elementary and junior high schools in the surrounding areas.

 
EMU Y000 series stands at Kodomonokuni Terminal on the Kodomonokuni Line

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ultra-heroes Train on the Sotetsu Line

Set number 10708F of the EMU 10000 series, "Ultra-heroes Train", stands at Futamatagawa Station
 
Following the Sonyan (Yurukyara) Train, I am going to show you the other poster train on the Sagami Railway (Sotetsu) Line. It is the "Ultra-heroes Train" to promote a TV drama for kids.

Before describing the Ultra-heroes Train, I have to tell the story of the first Ultra-hero... Ultraman. Ultraman... what a fond memory! He was a protagonist of a TV drama for kids in 1966. Ultraman was born in nebula M78, "Country of Light". He is 20,000 years old now. He came to the earth to wipe out vicious monsters, which are similar to Mesozoic dinosaurs. This drama has already been continuing for 48 years as an Ultra-heroes series. Members of Ultraman's family have been appearing in the dramas one after another. The last one was Ultraman Ginga, who debuted last year. Furthermore, the newest one, Ultraman Victory, will appear this month as a protagonist of a new Ultra-heroes drama.

The poster train, Ultra-heroes, displays members of Ultraman's family including Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Victory and the monsters on the train bodies. The original model is the 10-car train, the EMU Sotetsu 10000 series. The 10000 series was launched in 2002 to replace old models such as the 2100 and 6000 series. A total of 8 sets, 70 units have been manufactured so far by Tokyu Sharyo and JR East Niitsu factory. To reduce the manufacturing costs, it has a common spec with JR East's EMU E231series.

The Ultra-heroes Train will be operated until August this year.

 
Ultra-heroes Train leaves Ryokuen-toshi Station on the Sotetsu Line
 
More information about the Ultra-heroes train (in Japanese):

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Toei 7504: Preserved School Tram on the Arakawa Line

Unit number 7504 of the Toei 7500 series is preserved in a museum adjacent to the Arakawa Depot
 
Along with the PCC Car (unit number 5501 of the Toei 5500 series), unit number 7504 of the Toei 7500 series is the other main exhibition in the small museum adjacent to the Arakawa Depot on the Toei Arakawa Line. As you may know, the Arakawa Line is the precious tramway operated by Transportation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Toei).

The Toei 7500 series streetcar was launched in 1962 to replace the decrepit 8000 series. A total of 20 units have been manufactured by Nippon Sharyo and Niigata Tekko. Its rounded face with two big lights is very attractive and the bow collector installed on the center of the roof is nostalgic.

After belonging to the Aoyama Depot in the city center, the 7504 was moved to Arakawa Depot in 1968. Many other colleagues of the 7500 series were renovated in the 1980s, but the 7504 had been kept in its original style. The final assignment for the 7504 was a special train between Ootsuka and Machiya stops for morning rush hour. It was called "Gakuen-gou (School Tram)" by passengers. In fact, the 7504 had been transported many high school girls on the Arakawa Line.

In 1998, the 7504 was retired from the track. It was missed by many rail fans. Railway engineers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government tried to preserve it in a dynamic state, but it didn't accord with engineers' hopes.

The Toei 7504, School Tram, is preserved in a static condition under the government's instruction.

 
Side view of the unit number 7504

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Subway Trains on the Seibu Line

EMU Tokyo Metro 10000 series travels on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line
 
Direct train operation between multiple railways is a convenient transportation system. One of the examples is seen in the western part of the Tokyo metropolitan area, where five companies form a large railway network. They are Seibu, Tobu, Tokyo Metro, Tokyu and Yokohama Minatomirai railways. As a result of establishment of this network, we can see various kinds of trains on these lines. It is a great amusement for rail fans. I am going to show you two examples today.

Firstly, I would like to show you the EMU Tokyo Metro 10000 series. It was launched in 2006 to replace old model, the EMU 7000 series, on the subway Yurakucho Line. It was then introduced onto the subway Fukutoshin Line as well. A total of 36 sets, 360 units, have been manufactured so far by Hitachi. The rounded "face" with large frontal windows is very cool. The "keyhole-shaped" frontal lights are lovely.

Secondly, I am going to cover the EMU Seibu 6000 series. It is a multi-purpose train for the intra-Seibu lines and direct operation between Seibu and the other railways. The 6000 series was launched in 1992. A total of 25 sets, 250 units, have been manufactured so far by Tokyu Sharyo and Hitachi. This model has changed the image of the Seibu trains from the dowdy yellow trains to the urban sophisticated ones.

Direct train operation... it generates a "train museum" on the railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

 
EMU Seibu 6000 series
 
More information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 10000 series (in Japanese):
More information about the EMU Seibu 6000 series (in Japanese):

Friday, July 11, 2014

EMU E501 Series on the Mito Line

EMU JR East E501 series travels between Fukuhara and Inada stations on the Mito Line
 
I have already shown most of the railway routes in the Tokyo metropolitan area at least once since I set up my blog in 2011, but, there are still some routes, which I have not yet shown. I am going to show you one of such routes this time.

The JR East Mito Line is an East-West trending local route in the northern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Connecting Oyama in Tochigi Prefecture and Tomobe in Ibaraki Prefecture, the line length is 50.2km. The track is 1,067mm single-gauge. The electric system is 1,500V DC overhead in the western section between Oyama and Otabayashi, while 20,000V AC overhead is used in the eastern section between Otabayashi and Tomobe. The reason for applying the AC system in the eastern section is that the direct current has adverse effects on the observation work at the national magnetic observatory located near the track.

Although reputable sightseeing spots are not known on this route, the beautiful country scenery on the line is my favorite, including rice paddies, barley fields and green forests. The dialect accent spoken by local people on the train is unique.

One of the main rolling stock on the line is the EMU E501 series. It is an AC-DC train launched in 1995 to replace the old model, the 403 series. A total of 4 sets, 20 units, are operated on the Mito Line, characterized by thick green and white pencil stripes on their bodies.

 
EMU JR East E501 series stands at Mito Station
 
More infoemation about the EMU JR East E501 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rakuraku Train in the Niigata Area

EMU JR East 485 series, Rakuraku Train "Murakami", stands at Niigata Station
 
Japanese businessmen and businesswomen in the large cities are very busy every day. To make matters worse, their journeys home are hard. As you may know, the commuter trains are packed on most of the lines. It is a pain for city dwellers in this country.

Niigata is no exception. Although the population of Niigata City is 0.8 million, much smaller than that of Tokyo, this large city is also in a similar commuting predicament with Tokyo. What can you do if you are a Niigatan?

Here is what you need to do. Get on "Rakuraku Train (relaxing train)". It will take you to a healing world. Rakuraku Train is similar to that of a Commuter Liner in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Once you pay an extra fee (310 yen), a squashy reclining seat is secured for you.

The vehicles for Rakuraku Train are higher grade than those of standard commuter trains. A 6-car train, the EMU JR East 485 series, is used. This train has a long history on the Japanese railways. It was launched in 1968 as an AC-DC dual system EMU for limited express, and has been manufactured for 11 years.

Currently, the 485 series is operated as limited express trains in the daytime in the Niigata area. It is, then, operated as Rakuraku Train in the evening. The operating routes are from Niigata to Naoetsu (136km) and Murakami (61km).

Rakuraku Train... it is a healer for hard workers in Niigata City.

 
Side view of the Type KuHa 481, the EMU 485 series

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cherry-picking Season in Yamanashi Prefecture

EMU JR East 189 series, "Holiday Rapid" arrives at Ootsuki Station on the Chuo Main Line
 
Yamanashi Prefecture, some 100km west of Tokyo, is a kingdom of fruits in Japan. Grapes and peaches have been well known major products for some time; but, recently, Sakurambo (cherry) has also become a reputable fruit in this prefecture.

Cherries are my favorite fruit in early summer. They are sweetish and slightly acidic. They are lovely, rounded and shining fruit, and the red-colored ripened fruits are very beautiful backed by the light green leaves on the tree.

I visited a local farm in Yamanashi Prefecture with my family at the end of last week. Although the cherry-picking season was almost over, we could still get a pile of cherries in the basket. There are good crops this year because of the good weather.

JR East operates special trains for cherry-picking travelers each weekend in this season. Rapid trains, "Irodori Yamanashi Sakurambo" (set number N201 of the EMU 485 series) and "Ozashiki Yamanashi Sakurambo" (set numbers G6 and G7 of the EMU 485 series) offer convenient access to cherry farms, but it is difficult to get reserved seat tickets for these trains. So, we always take a standard train, "Holiday Rapid" (EMU 189 series) on the Chuo Main Line. Although the Holiday Rapid train does not have luxury facilities, the 189 series provides us with comfortable reclining seats. It is good news for passengers that JR East doesn't charge a premium price for this train.

Cherry-picking season in Yamanashi Prefecture is my annual fun time.

 
Riped cherries are seen on the Chuo Main Line

Saturday, July 5, 2014

On the Day of a Break in the Rainy Season

EMU Odakyu 30000 series, Romance Car "EXE"
 
Here we are in the middle of the gloomy rainy season in Tokyo. We have been having hot and humid days, but, once the sun's rays peep through the clouds, I never fail to go out to enjoy a stroll.

At the end of last week, I got such an opportunity. I visited my favorite spot in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is one of the best places for me to take train pictures on the Odakyu Line. We can take pictures of trains shining in the sun without being distracted by overhead wire poles there.

The first train was the EMU 30000 series, Romance Car, "EXE". The brilliance of the two frontal lights and shining golden bodies was power to burn backed by a deep green forest. The 10-car train filed past me at top speed. Cool! Then, plenty of trains passed me by. They were the EMU 1000, 2000, 3000 and 8000 series.

There is nothing permanent except change. The morning sun never lasts a day. Just half an hour later, my spot was palled with sudden, low hanging cloud, which then started to produce violent storms.

Just before leaving the spot, I shot the final photo. It was the EMU 60000 series, Romance Car, "MSE". The 10-car train originated from Kita-Senju on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, as a limited express train, "Metro-Hakone". I saw many passengers on the train heading for the resort area in Hakone Mountain. Enjoy your holidays!
 
EMU Odakyu 60000 series, Romance Car "MSE" 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hydrangea Train on the Inokashira Line

A special plate, "Night lighting of hydrangeas", is displayed on the 1729F of the EMU 1000 series
 
During the hydrangea blooming season this year, Keio Electric Railway operated a train with a special plate on the Inokashira Line. It was set number 1729F of the EMU 1000 series. This unique set has a white colored front mask with a rainbow colored stripe on the side body of the train.

The 1729F was manufactured by Tokyu Sharyo in 2009. The original front color was bluish green, but, was changed to white in 2012 to make it be a flagship train on the Inokashira Line. Designed posters of several scenic spots on the line, such as Inokashira Park and Kanda River, are displayed on the body of the 1729F. Special monitors installed above the doors broadcast daily news, the weather forecast and famous spots on the line as passenger services.

During the hydrangea season, a special rounded plate is displayed on the front of the 1729F to promote hydrangea viewing passengers on the line. Hydrangea flowers are beautifully designed on the plate with a phrase, "Lighting of Hydrangea, Higashi-Matsubara Station".

As I mentioned before, the night lighting of the hydrangeas in Higashi-Matsubara Station is very beautiful. Blue and purple colored illuminated hydrangea flowers are visible from anywhere in the train through windows, while it stands at Higashi-Matsubara Station.

June is the gloomy rainy season in Tokyo, but, is the best period on the Keio-Inokashira Line.
 
Illuminated  hydrangea flowers are seen through train windows at Higashi-Matsubara Station

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Shonan-colored E217 Series on the Tokaido Main Line

EMU JR East E217 series (Shonan color) arrives at Yokohama Station on the Tokaido Line
 
The ecology of rail fans is arcane. They ignore mass-produced non-descriptive commuter trains; but it would be a superstar once its body color is unique. Rail fans like rarity. As a matter of fact, I also favor rare colored trains. I am going to show you the typical example, the EMU E217 series on the Tokaido Main Line.

As you may know, most of the E217 series are operated on the Sobu-Yokosuka Rapid Line. They have so-called Yokosuka-colored bodies with blue and cream colored stripes. A total of 45 sets are operated on the track. The family of the E217 series is not just the Yokosuka-colored train. The Shonan-colored E217 series also exists on the track. They are very rare trains. The Shonan-colored E217 series have orange and green colored stripes on their bodies. Only 2 sets, 30 units, are operated on the Tokaido Main Line. Such a rarity packs in rail fans to the track.

One day, I visited Yokohama Station to take pictures of this unique train. After an hour's wait, the Shonan-colored E217 series appeared from the west. It was a 300m long train that consisted of 15 cars. Two double-decked Green Cars (first-class cars) were sandwiched in between standard class cars. The Shonan-colored E217 series debuted in 2006 to replace an old EMU 113 series. The operating route is limited between Tokyo and Atami for the time being.
 
EMU JR East E217 series (Shonan color) stands at Yokohama Station on the Tokaido Main Line