Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hamakaiji and Spring Full Bloom on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 185 series, limited express "Hamakaiji", approaches Chino Station on the Chuo Line

Chino is an inland city in Nagano Prefecture, some 200 km west of Tokyo. It is surrounded by mountains and known as the entrance of Tateshina Highland. At the end of April, this small city says goodbye to winter and says hello to spring. The flowers bloom all together, and the forest is filled with a nice fragrance.

I visited this beautiful city with my family last month taking the JR East Chuo Main Line. It took two hours by limited express train, Super-Azusa, from Shinjuku Station in the downtown Tokyo area. After getting off at Chino, we climbed up a small hill overlooking the city. I could see another limited express train, Hamakaiji, running westward on the track.

Hamakaiji debuted in 1996 as a special train operated on weekends. Connecting Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture and Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, its operating length is 232 km. It is very convenient for Yokohama citizens, since they can directly access the Chuo Main Line via the Yokohama Line bypassing Tokyo.

The vehicle for Hamakaiji is a 6-car train, the EMU 185 series. It is a 1,500 V direct current train launched in 1981 by Japanese National Railways. A total of 227 units have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and others. This model is also commissioned for the limited express "Odoriko" and Commuter Liner in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

I enjoyed the beautiful spring and an old train in Chino City.

A full blown cherry tree is seen beside the railway track near Chino Station on the Chuo Line