Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 Sakura Season on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 211 series arrives at Shiotsu Station on the Chuo Line

April is the Sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan. With so many hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots available, it's hard to select which one is the best. After wavering, I headed to the west with my family.

Our destination was Uenohara City, located in the eastern part of Yamanashi Prefecture, some 70 km west of Tokyo. It was not an area for sightseeing and/or tourist attractions, but it was a quiet hanami spot in the countryside. The best spot was found along a natural river. Full blown Sakura trees were seen backed by beautiful mountains. Spring has come.

To get to this beautiful spot, we took the JR East Chuo Line. Our vehicle was a local train, the EMU 211 series. The 211 series took over the old 115 series in 2015. A total of 50 sets, 192 units have been moved from the Takasaki, Utsunomiya and Tokaido lines. The 211 series has a stainless steel body with light blue and emerald colored stripes, the same as so called Nagano-color trains.

The 211 series was developed by Japanese National Railways in 1985. It has a bit outdated field excitation electric control system, but we must not forget that the 211 series has realized a large amount of operating cost reduction using its regenerative braking system. I like its whirring sound generated by the DC motor.

Gorgeous cherry blossoms and the local trains... enjoy your spring weekends on the Chuo Line.

The cherry blossoms on the bank of Tsuru River are in full bloom near Uenohara Station