Friday, May 19, 2017

Shimonoseki: Key Junction City for Transportation

EMU JR West 115 series arrives at Shimonoseki Station on the Sanyo Main Line

Shimonoseki is the largest city of Yamaguchi Prefecture, about 1,100 km west of Tokyo. It is known as the westernmost city of Honshu Island (the main island). Currently, Shimonoseki has a population of 280,000.

Shimonoseki is also known as the key junction city for transportation. It is very close to Kita-Kyushu City on Kyushu Island across the Kanmon Straits. There are three tunnels and one bridge between the two cities, which are for the Sanyo Shinkansen (tunnel), the Sanyo Main Line (tunnel), the National Route 2 (tunnel), and the Kanmon Expressway (suspension bridge). As a result of these strong transportation ties, Shimonoseki and Kita-Kyushu cities form one greater urban area (the Kanmon Metropolitan area), which has a population of 1.3 million. If you want to access the urban scenery of this area, I recommend that you visit Kaikyo Yume Tower, which is a landmark of Shimonoseki City.

In the meantime, JR West's Shimonoseki functions as the gateway station to Honshu Island. Currently, most of the long distance passengers travelling between Honshu and Kyushu Island take the Sanyo Shinkansen via Shin-Shimonoseki (New Shimonoseki) station; however, Shimonoseki station is still crowded with local people traveling between the two islands.

The EMU JR West 115 series is the main fleet on the Sanyo Main Line. It is a standard commuter train with a dark yellow-colored body. When I visited Shimonoseki last month, I came across a rare renovated car, KuMoHa 114-1106, which had a unique flat face.

Night view of Kaikyo Yume Tower (153m) near Shimonoseki Station