Thursday, October 27, 2016

View of Japanese Tyrol on the Iida Line

EMU JR Central 373 series, limited express "Inaji", travels on the Iida Line

Japan is a mountainous country. 73% of the territory is covered by mountains or hills. Generally speaking, mountains are not suitable for residential areas.

Wait a minute! There is an exception. Please look at the following photo. It is "Shimoguri-no-sato (Shimoguri Village)" in Nagano Prefecture, about 290 km west of Tokyo. You can see houses and cultivated land on the ridge of a steep mountain with up to 38 degrees of the maximum inclined angle. According to the local people, their ancestors migrated into this village about 1,000 years ago. They have been carrying out an agricultural business and forestry over many generations.

The situation has recently drastically changed. One geographer "found" Shimoguri Village, and named it the "Japanese Tyrol", because the scenery and the lives of the people are similar to those of Tyrol State in Austria. Since then, many holidaymakers have been flocking to this small village. I was one of those people.

To access the Japanese Tyrol, I took the Iida Line from Toyohashi Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen. It takes about 2 hours 40 minutes from Toyohashi to Iida, which is the access station to Shimoguri Village. My vehicle was a limited express train, Inaji. It is operated by JR Central using the EMU 373 series. The 373 series is a 3-car direct current train launched in 1995. A total of 14 sets, 42 units have been built by Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi. This model is also commissioned on the Minobu Line as a limited express train, Fujikawa.

Shimoguri-no-sato, access from Iida Station on the JR Central Iida Line