Wednesday, September 21, 2016

World Heritage Area on the Takayama Main Line

DMU JR Central KiHa 85 series travels on the Takayama Main Line

Gassho-zukuri is one of traditional farmhouses seen in the snowy areas of Japan. It has a steep straw-thatched roof to counter the snowfall by increasing the slidability of the snow accumulated on the roof. Along with the famous Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture, Gokayama in Toyama Prefecture is also known as an area of Gassho-zukuri village. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Until the late 19th century, Gokayama was a hidden place for the Maeda family in Kaga Domain to produce ensho (material of explosives). Even strong Tokugawa Shogunate (central government) couldn't sniff it out, since Gokayama was an isolated "non-existing village" surrounded by deep and snowy mountains at that time. 

There are two routes to get to Gokayama. One is from Johana Terminal on the JR West Johana Line. The other is from Takayama Station on the JR Central/West Takayama Main Line. The Takayama Main Line is a trunk route connecting Gifu on the Tokaido Main Line and Toyama on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Its total line length is 225.8 km. The track is single and un-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

The leading train on the Takayama Main Line is a limited express "Wide-view Hida", the DMU JR Central KiHa 85 series. This DMU was launched in 1989 to replace the old model, KiHa 82 series. Thanks to the two powerful 350 PS diesel engines made by Cummins in the U.K., the DMU KiHa 85 series exhibits the same performance as EMUs.

Gokayama, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Official information of the DMU KiHa 85 series  by Nippon Sharyo:
Official information of the DMU KiHa 85 series  by JR Central (in Japanese):