Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 Shinjuku "Minamillumi"

EMU JR East E257 series, limited express "Azusa", stands at Shinjuku Station

Winter illumination season is coming to an end. Winter is known as the season of "street illuminations" in Japan. Urban streets are nicely decorated with millions of LED lights. I don't know exactly what the origin of this event was, but it can be traced to the Christmas lights to attract customers to shopping malls.

I visited the Southern Terrace of Shinjuku Station, where an illumination event was being held. I saw many couples and families, who were sewing in the woods of lights, called "Minamillumi". Minamillumi is a compound word of minami (south) in Japanese and illumination in English. There is a flood of English words in our everyday language in this country.

In the meantime, we can see frequently arriving and departing trains at JR East Shinjuku Station. Limited express, Azusa, is one of the representative trains departing from this busy terminal. Connecting Shinjuku and Matsumoto, it travels in the steep backbone mountains of Japan.

Along with the E351 series (Super-Azusa), the E257 series (Azusa) is famous among travelers to Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures. It was launched in 2001 to replace the old EMU, 183 and 189 series. A total of 21 sets, 154 units, have been built by Hitachi, Kinki Sharyo, and Tokyu Sharyo. Different from the E351, the E257 series doesn't have a tilting system to pass through tight curves in mountain ranges at high speed, but the center of gravity on the body of the 257 is low to mitigate centrifugal forces.


Night view of the Southern Terrace (Minamillumi) in front of Shinjuku Station