Friday, August 11, 2017

Japanese Machu Picchu on the Bantan Line

Unit number 2007 of the diesel rail-car JR West 40 series, "Sky Castle"

Takeda Castle Ruins is located in Hyogo Prefecture about 700 km west of Tokyo. It had been an obscure historic spot for a long time, but the situation drastically changed in 2006. The ruins was nominated as one of Japan's Top 100 Castles by Japan Castle Foundation. Since then, visitors to Takeda Castle Ruins have been rapidly increasing.

Takeda Castle was originally built by Yamana Sozen in 1431. It is located at the top of Mt. Kojo. We can see many impregnable stone walls on the steep mountain slopes. The current stone walls were constructed in the 16th century. Because of its scenery, the name of the castle ruins was generalized to "Japanese Machu Picchu (famous remains of the Inca Empire in Peru)" by the media as time went by. In fact, the castle ruins covered by autumn fog look like Machu Picchu.

To visit this ruins, the nearest station is Takeda on the JR West Bantan Line. The Bantan Line is a local route connecting Himeji on the Sanyo Shinkansen and Wadayama on the San-in Main Line. Its operating length is 65.7 km. The track is single and partly electrified. Takeda is located on the mid-point of the un-electrified section.

Diesel rail-cars, the KiHa 40 series, are the main rolling stock on the Bantan Line. A special poster train, "Sky Castle" is operated to promote tourism to Takeda Castle Ruins. Sky Castle train is unit number 2007 of the KiHa 40 series. It has the images of the castle ruins on its body.

Takeda Castle Ruins near Takeda Station on the JR West Bantan Line

Official information about Sky Castle train (in Japanese):