Friday, 6 May 2016

Traditional Craft on the Nagaragawa Railway

Diesel railcar Nagara 500 series arrives at Minami-Kodakara Onsen Station
Mino is a small city in Gifu Prefecture, about 420 km west of Tokyo. The city is famous for being the producer of traditional handmade paper, "Mino-washi", which has a history of about 1,200 years. The oldest record of Mino-washi is seen in a government document in 702. In 1985, Mino-washi was designated a Traditional Craft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry).

Mino-washi is tough, bug-proof, and really versatile. Sometimes it is dyed after the sheets are dry, instead of during the paper-making process. You can see beautiful Mino-washi artworks in the Mino Washi Akari Art Hall in the downtown area.

To visit this art city, please take Nagaragawa Railway and get off at Mino-shi Station. Nagaragawa Railway was partially opened as the Etsumi-nansen (Etsumi South Line) by Japanese Government Railways in 1923. It then fully opened in 1934 between Mino Oota and Hokuno stations (72.1 km). The route was privatized under the name of Nagaragawa Railway in 1986. The track is single and un-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

One of the fleets on the route is the 17 m-long diesel railcar, Nagara 500 series, launched in 2007. So far, a total of three units have been built by Niigata Transys. It has a Hitachi 295 ps / 2100 rpm direct blast type diesel engine. A grape colored body with light blue and white stripes is my favorite.

Traditional handmade papers and lovely trains... enjoy your holidays in Mono City!

Mino-washi artworks are exhibited at the Mino Washi Akari Art Hall near Mino-shi Station
Official information about rollingstock of Nagaragawa Railway (in Japanese):