Sunday, 3 April 2016

Yoritomo-sakura on the Uchibo Line

EMU JR East E257-500 series, limited express "Shinuku-Sazanami" arrives at Hota Station

Kawazu-sakura, otherwise known as "winter cherry", was found by chance in 1955 in Kawazu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture. It is thick and pink-colored, and blooms in February to March for longer than standard Sakura. It has been lovingly cared for and planted by local people.

Today, Kawazu-sakura is spread throughout Japan. For instance, a total of 600 Kawazu-sakura trees, which were renamed to Yoritomo-sakura by local people, are in full bloom on the embankments of Hota River in Kyonan Town, Chiba Prefecture. It is at the beginning of March... one month earlier than that of standard Sakura. It is marking the ending of winter and the advent of spring.

To see this beautiful full-blown Yoritomo-sakura, please take the JR East Uchibo Line and get off at Hota Station. The limited express train, "Shinjuku-Sazanami", is operated every weekend. It takes 1 hour and 50 minutes from Shinjuku, a subcenter of Tokyo. Your vehicle is the 1,500 V direct current EMU, E257-500 series.

The E257-500 series was launched in 2004 replacing the old trains, EMU 183 and 189 series. The blue, white and yellow, three-toned body is very vivid. The blue stands for the ocean. The white stands for the beach. Meanwhile the yellow stands for the canola flowers in Chiba Prefecture. So far, a total of 19 sets, 95 carriages of the E257-500 series, have been built by Hitachi, Tokyu Sharyo and Kinki Sharyo.

Seasonally blooming Yoritomo-sakura and the three-toned express train provide glorious scenery on the Uchibo Line.

Full-blown Yoritomo-sakura is seen near Hota Station on the JR East Uchibo Line