Saturday, 26 August 2017

Himeji White: Castle and Shinkansen

EMU N700A series arrives at Himeji Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen

I visited Himeji City for the first time in two years. As I posted before, Himeji is the second largest city in Hyogo Prefecture. It is well known as an old castle city.

Himeji Castle, also called Shirasagi (egret) Castle was completed in 1617 by Honda Tadamasa. As its name suggests, it is a white colored castle. The main tower with some attached buildings remains as it was at that time. Himeji Castle was designated as a World Heritage site in 1993. I visited this heritage site last month with my family. It was a very hot and humid day. To make matters worse, there were no air-conditioners in the castle, because it was an old building. When I climbed up the seven-storied castle tower, my head was giddy. 

To visit this historical castle, the closest station is Himeji. It takes three hours from Tokyo by Nozomi super-express on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. Our vehicle was a white colored EMU, the N700A series. On June 28th, JR Central made a press release announcing that a new shinkansen model, the N700S, will be launched in 2020. The N700S looks similar to that of the N700 and the N700A, but the outer design will have more sharp bends on the front of the train, so that the N700S will decrease the tunnel boom. The braking performance will also be improved to stop the train quickly, if a large earthquake happens. The N700S is going to replace the old shinkansen train, the EMU 700 series soon.

Himeji Castle near Himeji Station

Official information about the design of the N700S series (in Japanese):