Friday, April 28, 2017

The Latest Model on the Shin-Keisei Line

EMU N800 series travels on the Shin-Keisei Line

Shin-Keisei (New-Keisei) is an affiliate firm of Keisei Electric Railway Company in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. Currently, there are not enough opportunities for me to take this line, as I live in the western part of Tokyo Metropolis, so not all of the models of Shin-Keisei trains have been introduced in this blog yet. Nevertheless, I am going to show you one of these trains today.

The EMU N800 series is the latest model on the Shin-Keisei Line. It was launched in 2005 to replace the old model, the 800 series. So far, 3 sets, 18 units have been built by Nippon Sharyo. Don't you think it is similar to something? Yes, the N800 series is a sister model of the Keisei 3000 series. The train bodies and the technical specifications of the N800 series are the same as those of the 3000 series. What is the major difference between the N800 and the 3000 series? It is the color design. The maroon and white colored stripes of the M800 series are definitely my favorite. The colors are elegant and stylish, and the maroon color reminds me of the Hankyu trains in the Osaka area.

Currently, Shin-Keisei is in the process of changing their train coloring. The new design is a two-tone white and pink. They are certainly beautiful, but mere beauty does not wear well. I hope that the original coloring will be kept as long as possible. 

Set N818 of the EMU Shin-Keisei N800 series

Official information about the EMU Shin-Keisei N800 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2017 Sakura Season on the Tokaido Main Line

EMU E231 series arrives at Manazuru Station on the Tokaido Main Line

Sakura (cherry) blossoms die away so quickly. The 2017 Sakura blooming season has ended in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Following the urban cherry viewing spot on the Chuo Local Line, I am going to show you another spot in the countryside to keep in my mind.

Arai-joshi is a small local park in Manazuru Town, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 100 km southwest of Tokyo. We can see the early blooming weeping-cherry there, because the influx of the Kuroshio Warm Current has influenced the temperate climate of Manazuru Town. In early April, local people hold the Cherry Festival in the park. They leisurely enjoy eating, chatting, dancing, and singing with their families, friends, and neighbors. They also warmly welcome visitors from outside of the town.

To get to this cherry blossom viewing spot, I took the JR East Tokaido Main Line and got off at Manazuru Station. It takes about one and a half hours by rapid train from Tokyo Station. My return train was the E231 series, which had two double-decker Green Cars (the first class cars). Getting on the Green Cars, I could relax and return home. The extra cost of the Green Cars was 780 yen.

Why did I use the Green Cars? It was because I was rather drunk. I was enthusiastically welcomed by local people, who recommended glasses of sake (Japanese rice wine) to me. The train had just arrived at Tokyo Station when I woke up.

Full blown weeping-cherry tree, Arai-joshi Park near Manazuru Station

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Slope Car on a Golf Course

Slope car, 16V3 of the Type KSC-10MS, in Manna Country Club, Chiba Prefecture

I sometimes play golf with my friends or colleagues. It is a basically non-train spotting time, but as it happens, I found a railway-related facility last weekend.

Please look at the photos. It is a slope car operated on a golf course of Manna Country Club in Chiba Prefecture, about 50 km east of Tokyo. This course is located in a hilly area, so, the slope car is convenient to transport golfers and golf sticks between the club house and the starter house of the course. Crossing a surface public road and an underground expressway (the Metropolitan Inter-City Expressway), its route length is about 100 m. The track and the stations were constructed by Kaho Monorail Company in 2005.

The vehicle is a 2-car train consisting of a passenger car and a freight car. It is named 16V3 of the Type KSC-100MS, also built by Kaho Monorail Company in 2005. The passenger car can hold up to 10 golfers. It has soft seats and an air-conditioner. The golfers can enjoy a superb view of the Kujukuri Plain and the blue colored Pacific Ocean from the train windows. The freight car can transport two carts and many sets of golf sticks. It is a powerful transporter, isn't it?

The scenic golf course and the unique slope car... I could relax on a beautiful weekend. How was my score? Oh, please refrain from asking this question, as it has no connection with the subject of this railway blog.

Slope car, 16V3, stands at Club House Station in Manna Country Club

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wakashio: The Peninsula Express on the Sotobo Line

EMU JR East E257-500 series, limited express "Wakashio" travels on the Keiyo Line

Boso is a large peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. It is situated between the Pacific Ocean and Tokyo Bay. Along with Izu, Boso Peninsula is a famous resort area for enjoying marine activities.

To get to this peninsula resort, there are three access routes. Firstly, you can take a highway bus operated via Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway. Passing through a submarine tunnel (9.6km) and a bridge (4.4km), it takes one hour to get from Tokyo to Kisarazu, a western gateway city to the peninsula. Secondly, you can take a JR East Uchibo Line train. The limited express Sazanami (ripples) is the representative train to the western side of the peninsula. It also takes one hour from Tokyo to Kisarazu going around the coast of the bay. Thirdly, you can take a JR East Sotobo Line train to the eastern side of the peninsula. The limited express, Wakashio (transitional tide between spring and neap tides), is the representative train. It is operated between Tokyo on the Keiyo Line and Awa-Kamogawa on the Sotobo Line.

Currently, the main carrier of Wakashio limited express trains is the EMU E257-500 series. It was launched in 2004, replacing the old trains the 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 and the yellow stands for the canola flowers in Chiba Prefecture. It is operated as a 5-car or a 10-car train depending on each time zone.

Limited express train, "Wakashio", arrives at Awa-Kamogawa Station on the Sotobo Line 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Kachikachi-yama Ropeway: Access to the Heavens

Gondola number 2, Tanuki (Racoon), Kachikachi-yama Ropeway

Kachikachi-yama is a reputable sightseeing spot in Fuji-Kawaguchiko Town, Yamanashi Prefecture, about 110 km west of Tokyo. The altitude of the summit is 1,075 meters above sea level. This mountain is famous among travelers for being a superb viewing spot, so I recently visited it with my family. 

To get to the summit, Kachikachi-yama Ropeway is convenient. It is an aerial tramway opened in 1959 and operated by Fuji Kyuko Company. Connecting Kawaguchi-kohan and Tenjosan-Fujimidai stations, its route length is 460 m. The height difference between the two stations is 219 m. Its maximum inclination is 34.07 degrees. It takes 3 minutes to go one way. The operation interval is 5 to 10 minutes.

The current gondolas, namely number 1, Usagi (rabbit), and number 2, Tanuki (Raccoon), are 3rd generation gondolas, built by Osaka Sharyo Kogyo in 2015. The mascots of Usagi and Tanuki on the roof of the gondolas are lovely. Each gondola can hold up to 36 passengers. To operate the gondolas, a 75 kW (100HP) traction motor is installed at Tenjosan-Fujimidai station yard.

The view from Kachikachi-yama was fantastic. It was a gorgeous spot to enjoy both views of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. The following picture is a view of Lake Kawaguchi and its surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, I couldn't take a good picture of Mt. Fuji, because it was back lit. Please enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji on the official website of Kachikachi-yama Ropeway.

Kachikachi-yama Ropeway... it is an access route to the heavens.

A view of Lake Kawaguchi from Kachikachi-yama

Official information about Kachikachi-yama Ropeway:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ex-Seibu Train on the Sunzu Line

Set 1302 of the EMU Izu-Hakone Railway 1000 series travels on the Sunzu Line

I have received a question from one of my blog readers, asking what kind of color design the Izu-Hakone Railway trains have. In answer to the question...

Firstly, Izu-Hakone Railway has standard colored trains. They have white-color bodies with dark blue-color stripes. Please look at the photo. It is an ex-Seibu Railway train, set 1302 of the EMU 1300 series with standard colored bodies. I like this color design, as it glows backed by the snow-capped Mt. Fuji.

Secondly, this company has a two-toned yellow and beige-color train, set 1301 of the EMU 1300 series, on the Sunzu Line. It is the original color on its Seibu Railway days, and named the Yellow Paradise Train. This color design is also beautiful and popular among rail-fans.

Thirdly, Izu-Hakone Railway has a revival-colored train, set 5501 of the EMU 5000 series, on the Daiyuzan Line. It has two-toned of the dark rose and beige-color bodies, and is called Akaden (red electric car). This color design was used as Izu-Hakone's standard until 1996. I also like this design, as it is very nostalgic for me.

What else? Oh, I almost forgot. There is a yellow-colored construction vehicle, KoDe 165 on the Daiyuzan Line. It is an ex-passenger car, and was modified to a construction vehicle in 1997. Its blue-colored oblique stripe is a good accent on the yellow-colored body.

I hope the above information will be helpful for the blog readers.

Set 1302 of the EMU Izu-Hakone Railway 1000 series and snow capped Mt. Fuji

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Sakura Season on the Chuo Local Line

EMU JR East E231 series travels on the Chuo Local Line

On April 2nd, the Meteorological Agency of Japan (JMA) declared that the cherry (Sakura) trees in Tokyo were in full bloom, at which time 12 days had passed since the JMA reported that Sakura trees had started to bloom.

Japanese people harbor romantic emotions towards Sakura blossoms, and I am one of those people. Seeing the beautiful blossoms dropping only a week after they flower reminds us of the brevity of life. That's why this season is very precious for us. Sakura viewing is a part of Japanese culture. Famous Sakura viewing spots are crowded with admirers.

This year, I visited some spots on the JR East Chuo Local Line. You can get to these spots on the stainless-steel trains with yellow colored stripes. They are the E231, E231-500 and the 209-500 series direct current commuter trains. Even in the center of the city, we can see many beautiful full blown Sakura trees on the line. For instance, Chidorigafuchi near Iidabashi Station is definitely my favorite spot.

Please look at the following photo. You can see full blown Sakura branches backed by an apartment and the blue sky. It is beautiful, but don't you feel that there is something mysterious about this picture? The contours of the apartment are wavy! Is it a parallel world? Might I have strayed into a different dimension or universe? The background scenery is unreal, isn't it?

Please don't worry. You can easily understand how to take this picture if you turn the photo upside down. Please enjoy.

Full blown cherry trees backed by mysterious "parallel world (?)" near Iidabashi Station 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The 6 Series for the 6th Anniversary

EMU JR East E6 series leaves Akita Station on the Akita Shinkansen

Tokyo Railway Labyrinth has its sixth anniversary today. I thank all my blog readers for visiting this website and sending comments to me over the last six years. Sorry, it has taken me so long to respond to you, as I have been very busy. Currently, I update my blog once every three days. I want to update more frequently, but this is all I can do at this moment. In commemoration of the 6th anniversary, I am going to show you a train with number "6" in the name.

The EMU JR East E6 series is a high speed "mini-shinkansen" train for the Tohoku and the Akita Shinkansen. It was launched in 2013 to replace the old Shinkansen train, the E3 series. The E6 series is coupled with the E5 series, and operated from Tokyo to Morioka Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen. The E6 series is, then, detached after arriving at Morioka Station, and travels by itself to Akita Station, because the route between Morioka and Akita is constructed as a so-called Mini-shinkansen. It means that the standard sized shinkansen trains, such as the E2, E4 and the E5 series, are unable to enter the mini-shinkansen sections. 

The E6 series is comfortable to ride in. It is much better than that of the E3 series, although its maximum speed was raised up from 275 to 320 km/h. It is probably because the many advanced technologies, such as the anti-rolling device, are introduced to their bogies.

Side view of the E6 series

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Railway Museum Update, Part 2: NaDe6141

Electric car NaDe6141 is exhibited in the Railway Museum

In addition to the new exhibition, namely the electric locomotive EF55 1, I obtained the other good news at the Railway Museum. That was news with regard to an electric car, NaDe6141 of the Class NaDe6110, which has been exhibited in the museum since 2007.

On March 10th, the Cultural Affairs Council of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology nominated NaDe6141 for inclusion on the list of Japan's important cultural properties. NaDe6141 is known as Japan's first electric car with bogies. It was built by Shimbashi Factory of the Japanese Government Railways in 1909. It was once moved to Meguro-Kamata Electric Railway (present Tokyu Corporation), but returned to the Japanese National Railways in 1972 to be preserved as the Railway Monument of Japan.

NaDe6141 has a 16 m-long body with long seats and six doors per car as a commuter transporter. Its capacity is 92 passengers. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The greatest feature of this old electric car is its two long trolley poles. To be honest, NaDe6141 was not attracting much attention from me, as it was plain and inconspicuous, but now I understood how valuable this old car is.

For your information, Japan's first subway electric car, namely unit number 1001, was also nominated as one of Japan's important cultural properties. As you may know, unit 1001 is exhibited in the Subway Museum next to Kasai Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line.

Congratulations NaDe6141 and 1001!

Front view of NaDe6141

Official information about the Class NaDe6110 electric car:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sky Garden on the Den-en-toshi Line

EMU Tokyu 5000 series travels on the Den-en-toshi Line

It looks just like an ordinary public garden in front of a high-rise apartment at a glance, but visitors may feel that something is strange. The park is in the shape of a spiral. What is it?

It is Meguro Sky Garden constructed just above a junction of expressways. This unique garden was opened in 2013, when the Ohashi Junction of the Metropolitan Expressway was constructed at the intersection of Route 3 and the Central Circular Route. It was a difficult task to construct the junction, because Route 3 was an elevated road on a hill, while Central Circular Route was a deep underground road beneath low-lying ground. As a result, long spiral (going around and around) connection lanes had to be constructed between two expressways at this junction. That's why Meguro Sky Garden is also spiral-shaped.

You can't enter Meguro Sky Garden directly from the expressways. I recommend you visit there by train. The nearest station is Ikejiri-Ohashi on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line. Ikejiri-Ohashi is an underground station above the Central Circular Route of the Metropolitan Expressway, which is also underground. What a complicated structure it is! One of the fleet on the line is the EMU 5000 series launched in 2002. It is a brother of the EMU 5050 series operated on the Toyoko Line and the 5080 series on the Meguro Line. Furthermore, the EMU Y500 series of the Yokohama Minato Mirai Railway has also the same specification with the 5050 series. They are a big family, aren't they?

Meguro Sky Garden near Ikejiri-Ohashi Station on the Den-en-toshi Line

Official information about Meguro Sky Garden: