Thursday, 27 August 2015

Old Post Town on the Aizu Line

DMU Aizu Railway AT-700 series leaves Tou-no-hetsuri Station
After our visit to the vast sunflower field in San-no-kura Highland, we headed to Oouchjuku in Fukushima Prefecture. Oouchijuku is a small village along Aizu West Road and once flourished as a post town in the Edo Period (1603-1868). The great number of feudal lords with their servants and the other travelers had been staying or taking a break there.

In 1884, after the Meiji Restoration, National Highway 121 was constructed far to the east. The old town and its name Oouchijuku slipped from people's memories, but in 1981, it appeared in the picture again. Oouchijuku was designated as a Group of Traditional Buildings by the government. Today, many old houses with straw-thatched roofs are carefully preserved along the main road. Thousands of tourists flock to this time-slipped post town.

To visit Oouchijuku, Aizu Railway is convenient. The nearest station is Yunokami-onsen. Aizu Railway is a local company, which has taken over the operation of the Aizu Line from Japanese National Railways. Connecting Aizukogen-Ozeguchi and Nishi-Wakamatsu, its operating length is 54.7 km. The track is 1,067 mm-gauge size single and partially electrified with a 1,500 V DC system.

The DMU AT-750 series is the latest model on the line. It was launched in 2010 to replace the old model, the DMU 8500 series. The AT-750 series is a 2-car train operated as "Aizu Mount Express", which is a flagship train on the line. Its red colored vivid bodies attract tourists and are popular among rail fans.

Oouchijuku post town near Yunokami-onsen Station on the Aizu Line
Official information about the rolling stock of Aizu Railway (in Japanese):