Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rapid Train to Samurai Street

DMU JR Kyushu KiHa 200 series, rapid train "Nanohana" stands at Kagoshima-chuo Station
 
Chiran is a small town in Minamikyushu City on Kyushu Island. It has grown as one of the samurai towns of Satsuma Domain since the early 18th century. The samurai residential area is still preserved as it was at that time. We can see the historical samurai houses and gardens here and there backed by beautiful Mt. Hahagatake. Different from the other preserved ex-samurai residential areas, such as Obi Town and Sakura City, Chiran was not a castle town. In other words, the samurai streets were the administration center in the region.

To get to this historical town, I took a bus from Makurazaki Station on the JR Kyushu Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. Connecting Kagoshima-chuo on the Kyushu Shinkansen and Makurazaki Terminal, the total operating length of the Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line is 87.8 km. The whole route is a non-electrified single track. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The DMU KiHa 200 series is a representative train on the line.

The KiHa 200 series was launched by JR Kyushu in 1991 to replace the old models, KiHa 66 and 67 series. A total of 47 cars have been built by Niigata Tekko, Nippon Sharyo and JR Kyushu Kokura Factory. Yellow colored ones, namely "Nanohana (canola flower)", are commissioned as rapid trains on the Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. It was a 6-car (2+2+2) train, when I rode.

For your information, JR East also has "Nanohana" train (the 485 series), but it is an EMU and different from that of JR Kyushu.
 
Chiran Samurai Street