Saturday, 30 December 2017

Lighting-up of the Historical Garden on the Namboku Line

The 5th batch train of the EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series travels on the Tokyu-Meguro Line

I visited Rikugien Garden last month for the first time in three years. My last visit was in the cherry blossom season, so that I visited there in the autumn foliage season this time. 

Rikugien is a famous public garden in Tokyo. It was constructed between 1695 and 1702 by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, who was a man in power in the Tokugawa Shogunate. Currently, it is owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. This traditional Japanese garden is composed of a pond, a hill and many kinds of trees. Along with a large shidare sakura (weeping cherry) tree, autumn leaves in the garden are also well known by people. The garden was lit-up during the peak foliage season at night. I saw many visitors, who were enjoying this special event, when I visited the garden.

To get to this gorgeous spot, the nearest railway station is Komagome on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line. I am going to introduce the 5th batch train of the EMU 9000 series. The EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series is the major fleet on the line. It was launched in 1991, when the Namboku Line was opened. The 5th batch of the 9000 series debuted in 2009. A total of 2 sets, 12 units, were built by Nippon Sharyo. The outer design of the 5th batch train is different from that of the 1st to 4th batch trains. For instance, the 5th batch train has slant eye-shaped lights; whereas the 1st to 4th batch train has rectangular lights.

Night view of Rikugien Garden near Komagome Station on the Tokyo Metro-Namboku Line

Official information about the 5th batch train of the EMU Tokyo Metro 9000 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Preserved Streetcar in Yokohama City

Electric car number 1510 of the 1500 series is preserved in the Yokohama Tram Museum

Yokohama is located about 20 km southwest of Tokyo and is the second largest city in Japan. Currently, it has a population of 3.7 million. This mega-city has been developed as Tokyo's outer harbor since the 19th century.

Yokohama once had an extensive tram network. The first route was opened between Kanagawa and Ooebashi stops in 1904 by Yokohama Electric Railway Company. Although the tram was a very useful transportation means for local people, it was unfortunately abolished in 1972 due to heavy traffic congestion in the urban area. Most of the streetcars were then scrapped; however, several units are still preserved in museums, public parks, and schools. Let me introduce my favorite one in the Yokohama Tram Museum today.

Electric car number 1510 of the 1500 series was commissioned in 1951 by the Transportation Bureau of Yokohama City. A total of 20 units of the 1500 series were built by Hitachi, but only two units are preserved in the Tram Museum and the Nogeyama Zoo in the city.

The 1500 series is a 600 V DC and middle-sized (12-meter-long) streetcar for 1,372-mm-wide gauge. Specification of the 1500 series is similar to that of PCC cars, which were developed in the United States in the 1930s. For example, two large frontal windows and the elegant rounded roof represent the characteristics of PCC cars. The 1500 series was also known as the first Japanese electric car, which had fluorescent lamps in the cars.

Interior of the electric car, number 1510 of the 1500 series

Official information about theYokohama Tram Museum (in Japanese):

Sunday, 24 December 2017

"Jewellumination" on the Keio-Sagamihara Line

The EMU Keio 9000 series passes through Keio-Yomouriland Station

Autumn has gone and winter is here in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Once a cold wave comes, it always snows in the Tohoku District on the Japan Sea. In contrast, it is always clear in the regions here on the Pacific Ocean. The high mountain ranges, which run nearly the full length of the country, give the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean sides of Japan different climatic patterns.

Winter is known as a season of illumination. Urban streets and amusement parks are nicely decorated with millions of LED lights. It is not known exactly what the origin of this event was; but I think that it can be traced to the Christmas lights to attract customers to shopping malls. I recently visited Yomiuriland, which is a famous amusement park in the Tokyo metropolitan area, with my family. An annual winter event, "Jewellumination", was being held there. The park was ornamented with a total of 5.5 million LED lights. As its name suggests, Jewellumination brings to people's mind colorful jewels. Specifically, a beautifully illuminated pond took my fancy. 

To visit this fancy park, the nearest railway station is Keio-Yomiuriland on the Keio-Sagamihara Line. The Keio-Sagamihara Line is known as an access route to Tama Newtown. Connecting Chofu on the Keio Main Line and Hashimoto on the JR East Line, its route length is 22.6 km. To liven up Yomiuriland's illumination, Keio-Yomiuriland station is also illuminated by the railway company. The limited express trains make an extraordinary stop on weekends.

"Jewellumination" of Yomiuriland near Keio-Yomiuriland Sta. on the Keio-Sagamihara Line

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Modern LRV in the Traditional Local City

Streetcar MLRV 1000 series travels on the Manyo Line

As I posted before, Takaoka is a local city in Toyama Prefecture, about 400 km northwest of Tokyo. It was opened as a capital city of Etchu Province in the early 8th century. Takaoka then became a castle city in 1609, built by Maeda Toshinaga. Although the castle was abandoned later, Takaoka City could survive as a city of commerce and industry. Bronze and lacquer wares are still famous local products in the city.

Takaoka has a unique tram route named the Manyo Line. The Manyo Line used to be composed of two different lines. The western half was named the Takaoka Tram Line, whereas the eastern half was the Shinminatokou Line. These two lines were then spliced as the Manyo Line in 2002 by a newly established Manyo-sen Company. The direct operation between the two sections started that year. Its total route length is 12.9 km.

Along with the classic street car De 7070 series, the modern LRT (Light Rail Transit), the MLRV 1000 series, is a main fleet on the Manyo Line. The MLRV 1000 series was launched in 2004 to replace old models such as the De 7000 and the De 7060 series. A total of 6 sets were built by Niigata Transys until 2009. It has articulated bodies with two bogies. I like to see the red colored MLRV 1000 series crossing Shokawa River in the sun. It is very beautiful against the blue sky and the indigo colored Sea of Japan.

Streetcar MLRV 1000 series passes through Shokawa Bridge

Official information about  Manyosen (the Manyo Line) in Japanese:

Monday, 18 December 2017

Preserved Funicular Route in Kyoto City

Preserved boat of Keage Incline

Kyoto had been Japan's capital city since 794. When the Emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1868, Japan's capital was also moved. Kyoto, then, started declining. How have local people tried to overcome that? They promoted industries. They constructed a canal between Lake Biwa and Kyoto City for material transportation, water supply and hydroelectric power.

One of the problems of this canal was the large height difference on the section between the east entrance of the downtown area and the center of the city. The height difference was suitable for hydroelectric power; however, it was an interruption for water-carriage. People in Kyoto again solved this difficult problem. They constructed a funicular line, called the "Keage Incline" on this section. The system was as follows:

A heavily laden boat traveled on the canal from Lake Biwa to Keage Station, the east entrance of the downtown area. The boat was, then, loaded on a truck of Keage Incline. The truck was, then, transported to Nanazenji Station, the center of the city, as a funicular line. The power of the funicular was supplied from the hydroelectric power station beside the canal. What an efficient system it was!

For your information, the total operating length of the Keage Incline was 640 meters. The height difference between the two stations was 36 meters. It took 10 to 15 minutes to get from Keage to Nanzenji Station. Unfortunately, the Keage Incline was abolished in 1948, but this unique funicular line was designated as a National Historic Site in 1996.

Preserved track of Keage Incline

More photos of Keage Incline:

Friday, 15 December 2017

Animal Train on the Tama Monorail Line

Set 1115 of the EMU Tama Monorail 1000 series arrives at Matsugaya Station

This is the fourth post to introduce the Tama Monorail Line. I recently visited the Tama Monorail Line for the first time in two years. What is a new thing with this unique monorail line? 

I found animal poster trains. They were set number 1107 and 1115 of the EMU 1000 series. As you can see, it features illustrations of animals such as giraffes and lions on the side bodies. These animals are a promotion of tourism to Tama Zoological Park located on the line. In Tama Zoological Park, animals are displayed under naturalistic and spectacular habitats set up on its land of 52 hectares in Hino City.

The Tama Monorail Line was opened in 1998. The route penetrates the Tama region, a western suburb of Tokyo, from south to north. Connecting Tama Center and Kamikitadai stations, its operating length is 16.0 km. A straddle-beam system is adopted. The track is double and the electric system is 1,500 V DC. Four-car trains, named the EMU 1000 series, are operated every 6 to 10 minutes. A total of 15 sets of the 1000 series were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi.

Passengers can enjoy both urban and country views from the train windows. The only problem with the Tama Monorail is its train speed. The maximum operating speed is only 65 km per hour. To make matters worse, there are many curved sections on the line. The company should learn from Tokyo Monorail and Shonan Monorail, which conduct high speed operations.

Side view of set 1107 of the EMU Tama Monorail 1000 series

Official information about the Tama Monorail Line:

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Autumn Scenery in Yamanashi Prefecture: Part 2

EMU JR Central 373 series, special express "Ichikawa-Misato" travels on the Minobu line

Following my previous post, I am going to show you another gorgeous autumn spot in Yamanashi prefecture.

Lake Shibire is located in the central part of Yamanashi Prefecture, about 100 km west of Tokyo. This small lake is surrounded by steep circular mountains, which are estimated as the outer ring of a volcanic caldera. The lake surface is 880 meters above sea level. The season of autumn leaves of Lake Shibire is very beautiful. We could see red, yellow and brown colored leaves that made a nice contrast with the blue sky. Specifically, I like to see an image of the scenery reflected on the lake surface.

To visit this mysterious lake, the nearest railway station is Kai-Iwama on the JR Central Minobu Line. On November 5th, a special express, "Ichikawa-Miasato" was operated between Hamamatsu and Kai-Iwama stations to transport sightseers to this resort area. "Ichikawa-Misato" is the name of the town, where Lake Shibire is located. The train commissioned for the special express, "Ichikawa-Misato" was the EMU JR Central 373 series, which is usually operated as a regular limited express, "Fujikawa".

For your information, Ichikawa-Misato is also known by its name seal-making. As you may know, name seal is a kind of stamp-printing used instead of signatures in Japan. For instance, contracts are often stamped with a name seal instead of being signed. Recently, name seal has become a popular souvenir for tourists from abroad.

Autumn in Yamanashi Prefecture is fun-filled.

Autumn scenery of Lake Shibire near Kai-Iwama Station on the JR Central Minobu Line

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Electric Car 1001: National Important Cultural Property

Electric car 1001 of the 1000 series is exhibited in the Subway Museum

I recently visited the Subway Museum (Tokyo Metro Museum) for the first time in six years. What was the news with this unique rail-fans' paradise?

On September 15th, the exhibited car, No. 1001 of the 1000 series, was designated as a National Important Cultural Property. The 1001 is Japan's first subway electric car. It had been operated on the Ginza Line, which is Japan's first subway route. The Ginza Line was opened in 1927 in Tokyo. The subway electric car, No. 1001, was also commissioned that year. It is a 15.5 meter-long small car built by Kisha-seizo. The sills, headers and rivets on the wall look very tough, but, the yellowish steel body with a reddish brown colored roof looks elegant.

From November 3rd to 5th of this year, the interior of the 1001 was opened on special occasions. Using this opportunity, I could examine the interior closely. For instance, I found that the indirect lighting system was adopted. The 1001 was probably Japan's first passenger car with the indirect lighting system. The 1001 traveled on the dark underground track all day long, so that the indirect lighting system was easy on the eyes of passengers. I also found that the floor was made of linoleum. In the 1920's, the floor of most passenger cars was made of wood, so that the linoleum floor was revolutionary. As you may know, linoleum is an incombustible substance, which is suitable for the subway car.

I never run out of things to talk about the subways.

Interior of electric car 1001

Official information about the Subway Museum (Tokyo Metro Museum):

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Autumn Foliage on the Sunzu Line

EMU JR East 185 series (block pattern painting) travels on the Sunzu Line

It is December already. A year has passed so soon. Before the New Year, I am going to hurry and show you the topic of this autumn.

Shuzenji is a small town on the Izu Peninsula, about 140 km southwest of Tokyo. It is famous for its hot spring and deep warm-temperate forest. Specifically, the forest of Japanese maple is very beautiful in the season of autumn foliage. I visited one such forest in Niji-no-sato (Rainbow Village) with my family last month. It was the best timing of autumn foliage. The Japanese maple leaves were turning scarlet and yellow in color. We fully enjoyed a stroll throughout the village in the gentle autumn sunlight, but that still wouldn't finish. After sunset, we enjoyed viewing autumn foliage again, as it was beautifully lit up. The night autumn leaves were also elegant.

To visit Shuzenji, the Sunzu Line of Izu-Hakone Railway is convenient. It takes about two hours from Tokyo by JR East's limited express train, "Odoriko", the EMU 185 series. This JR East train is directly operated onto Izu-Hakone Railway via Mishima Station. As I reported before, a media outlet recently stated that the EMU 185 series will be retired from the JR East and Izu-Hakone lines within a few years. It will be replaced by the EMU E257 series, which is currently operated on the Chuo Main Line.

Operation of the historical train, EMU JR East 185 series, will soon end.

Japanese maple leaves are lit up in Niji-no-sato (Rainbow Village) near Shuzenji Station

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Two Kinds of the EMU 209 Series on the Hachiko Line

EMU JR East 209-3000 series travels on the Hachiko Line

I recently found the word "trainspotter" on several websites, but it is not easy for me to use this word exactly, as I am not a native speaker of English. I hope that the following is a trainspotter's favorite thing.

The JR East Hachiko Line penetrates the north-western part of the Tokyo metropolitan area from south to north. The southern section, between Hachioji and Komagawa, is a commuter route, electrified at 1,500 V DC overhead. The EMU JR East 209 series is the main fleet on the southern section. The 209 series train has stainless steel bodies and a white colored frame part on the front, but if you look at it closely, you will find there are two different kinds of the 209 series on the track.

The first group is called the 209-3000 series, and the second group is named the 209-3100 series. The 209-3000 series has square lights and a roll sign on the front. The white colored frame on the front shows a simple square design. This group was introduced as new cars to the Hachiko Line. On the other hand, the 209-3100 series has rounded lights and an LED destination display on the front. The white colored frame on the front shows a slightly complicated hexagonal design. It was originally built for the Tokyo Waterfront Railway (TWR) 70-000 series and transferred to the Hachiko Line in 2005 after modification.

It is fun for me to perceive a fine difference between these trains. Am I a trainspotter?

EMU JR East 209-3100 series (ex-TWR 70-000 series) travels on the Hachiko Line