Monday, 29 October 2018

Natural Springs on the Fujikyu Line

EMU Fujikyu 1200 series, Fuji-tozan-densha, passes through Tsuru Bunka Daigaku station

Fujikyu is a local private railway company in Yamanashi Prefecture. It is known as the railway to the foot of Japan's highest mountain, Mt. Fuji (3,776 m above sea level). We can see many tourists visiting Mt. Fuji in the trains, but that is not everything.

There are many natural springs on the line. Specifically, the western part of Tsuru City is a local secret to visit. For instance, a beautiful natural spring named Reimei-suigen near Tohkaichiba station is famous among local people. A twin waterfall named Taro-daki and Jiro-daki near Higashikatsura station is also worth visiting. It is close to a beautiful wasabi (Japanese horseradish) field in a natural spring.

The best place, especially for rail fans, is Tahara-no-taki (Tahara waterfall) beside the rail track. We can see both the trains and the torrent of Katsura River there. When I visited there, a unique designed train, the Fuji-san Express, EMU 8000 series (ex-Odakyu 20000 series), was just passing by the waterfall. It was indeed a photogenic scene.

To get to Tahara-no-taki, the nearest station is Tsuru-bunka-daigaku (Tsuru University). On the way back home, I enjoyed taking train pictures at the station. I could shoot an ex-Keio train, the EMU 1200 series, named "Fuji-tozan-densha", passing through the station. The interior of this train looks like a living room. There are even bookshelves and showcases. During the trip, passengers can fully enjoy this "living room", and relax as if they are at home.

Tourists can find an unfailing resource on the Fujikyu line.

EMU Fujikyu 8000 series, Fuji-san Express, passes by Tahara-no-taki waterfall

Official information about Fuji-san Express and Fuji-tozan-densha:
Official information abount Fuji-san Express (in Japanese):
Official information about Fuji-tozan-densha (in Japanese):

Friday, 26 October 2018

Classic Train and Pirate Ship on Hakone Mountain

Unit 109 of the Hakone-tozan MoHa2 series and the other two units of classic electric cars

Following the debut of the new Romance Car, EMU 70000 series (GSE), Odakyu Electric Railway group has accelerated their investment in the Hakone resort area to accompany the increase of inbound tourists. On August 1st, Odakyu made a press release announcing that one more sightseeing ship on Lake Ashinoko will be launched in April, 2019.

Currently, Odakyu group has three sightseeing ships on Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Mountain. They are all pirate ship-type boats. The fourth boat will also be pirate ship-type. It was designed by Eiji Mitooka, and will be built in the shipyard of Togendai port on Lake Ashinoko. The name of the new "pirate ship" will be released in February next year. 

Incidentally, I am going to show you an electric car on Hakone Mountain, as this is a railway blog. Unit 109 of the MoHa2 series is a classic electric car on the Hakone-tozan Railway. It was originally built by Nippon Sharyo in 1927. The original name of the 109 was electric car number 9 of the ChiKi2 series. The body of this old electric car was, then, replaced by a steel one by Toyo Kouki in 1955. The car number was also changed from 9 to 109 of the electric car MoHa 2 series. 

Currently, two units (108 and 109) of the MoHa2 series are still operated on the track. I am anxious about their scrapping, because the new model, electric cars 3000 and 3100 series, were built one after another.

Pirate ship-type sightseeing boat on Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Mountain

Official information about the electric car Hakone-tozan MoHa2 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Last Chapter of the EMU Sotetsu 7000 Series

EMU Sotetsu 7000 series arrives at Izumi-chuo Station on the Izumino line

Sagami Railway (Sotetsu) is known as a Yokohama-based private railway company. Starting from Yokohama, the main city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Sotetsu has a 35.9 kilometer-long railway network.

Sotetsu recently has been consumed with an ambition. It is to operate direct access trains to downtown Tokyo and increase passengers. For that purpose, Sotetsu is constructing connecting lines from Nishiya station to existing JR East and Tokyu lines. The construction is delayed by several years, but it is estimated to be completed in the second half of FY2019 (Sotetsu - JR East connecting line) and the second half of FY2022 (Sotetsu - Tokyu connecting line) respectively.

Sotetsu now needs advance preparation for the direct operation onto JR East and Tokyu lines. For that purpose, Sotetsu plans to introduce plenty of new trains, namely the EMU 12000 series and the 20000 series. It is exciting news for rail fans including me, but I am also uneasy about the future of the old trains, namely the EMU 7000 series.

The 7000 series is Sotetsu's longest-serving active model, which was launched in 1975. A total of 80 units have been built, but only two sets, 16 units, are currently operated on the line. I absolutely love this train, because it has an afterglow of the 1970s. Its design is rough with angular bodies, simple rounded front lights, and bare jumper cables in the front. Everything fills me with nostalgia.

The last chapter of the 7000 series has begun on the Sotetsu line.

EMU Sotetsu 7000 series leaves Izumi-chuo Station on the Izumino line

Official information aboout the trains on the Sotetsu line (in Japanese):

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Old Astronomical Observatory on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East E353 series, limited express Super-Azusa, passes through Mitaka station

It is mid-Autumn in Japan. The maximum daytime temperature in Tokyo is around 20 degrees Celsius. It is the best season for strolling. I visited a suburban area with my family on the weekend. Our destination was Mitaka on the JR East Chuo line.

Many people think that Mitaka is just one of the average commuter cities in Tokyo Metropolis, but that is not everything. Mitaka has a large forest in the southern part of the city. There is an old astronomical observatory in the forest area. Its formal name is the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). It was opened in 1888 under the name of the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory. Most of the observation apparatus are already old and not used anymore, but visitors can freely observe those historical apparatus, for example a large refracting telescope, whose diameter is 65 centimeters. In contrast to the old observation apparatus, there is a state of the art large dome theater on the site. Visitors can learn the structure of the universe using 3D glasses. It is very beautiful and instructive. The background music is also comfortable. The good news is that it is all free of charge. Thank you NAOJ.

On the way back home, I enjoyed taking railway pictures at Mitaka station. It was getting dark, but I fortunately could shoot a state of the art limited express train, Super-Azusa, the EMU E353 series passing through the station. It was a good finale to the weekend.

Old refracting telescope is exhibited in the National Astronomical Observatory in Mitaka City

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

EMU 209-1000 Series: Transfer to the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 209-1000 series arrives at Abiko station on the Joban line

On September 1st, the Workers' Union of the JR East Hachioji Branch Office, whose members are mainly crew of the Chuo line trains, announced that the EMU 209-1000 series on the Joban line will soon be transferred to the Chuo line. Then, on September 5th, JR East Company also announced that the final operation of the 209-1000 series on the Joban line will be conducted on October 13th this year.

As you may know, the commuter train model on the Chuo line is only the EMU E233 series. It must be enough for JR East as things are. Why does the 209-1000 series have to be transferred from the Joban to the Chuo line now?

The gimmick is as follows. JR East currently plans to renovate and connect additional cars for the existing Chuo line trains. For instance, toilets will be newly equipped. The Green Cars (the first class cars) will be added to test for improvement in the quality of services. During the above work period, trains on the Chuo line will be shorthanded, so that the 209-1000 series will be temporarily invited from the Joban line.

There are only two sets of the EMU 209-1000 series operated on the Joban line. It is impossible to be directly operated onto the Odakyu line due to its technical specifications. In other words, the 209-1000 series is a burden on the Joban line at the moment.

I hope for success of the 209-1000 series on the Chuo line... its new post.

EMU JR East 209-1000 series stands at Abiko station on the Joban line

Official information about the EMU JR East 209 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Last Chapter of the 115 Series in Niigata: Part 2

"Shonan color" of the EMU 115 series in the Niigata area (June, 2014)

Subsequent to my last post, I am going to continue to show you the other color designs of the EMU 115 series in the Niigata area.

"Shonan color" of the 115 series used to be seen in many places in Japan. The Shonan color train has a beautiful two-tone orange and green painted body. Needless to say, Shonan is the zonal area along the Pacific Ocean coast in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is a residential area along the Tokaido main line. From the 1960s to 1980s, many "Shonan color" trains were operated on the Tokaido main line and the local lines throughout Japan, but they have been disappearing one after another. Niigata is currently a precious area to see the Shonan color trains.

"Nostalgic Niigata color" of the 115 series is also my favorite color design. It is a two-tone red and yellow. This color design was adopted specifically in the Niigata area, as it is very vivid backed by white snow. Niigata Prefecture is known as a snowy country. Trains with the nostalgic Niigata color was once abolished in 1978 but revived later upon requested by rail fans.

Incidentally, the EMU 115 series has already disappeared from the Chuo, Ryomo and the other lines. Certain sets are still operated in the western part of Japan such as the Hiroshima area, but it has continuously been decreasing. In the Niigata area, 7 sets of the 115 series are still operated having the attention to local people and rail fans.

"Nostalgic Niigata color" of the EMU 115 series in the Niigata area (left) (June, 2018)

Official information about color variation of the 115 series in the Niigata area (in Japanese):

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Last Chapter of the 115 Series in the Niigata Area

Set N35 of the EMU JR East 115 series before coloring change (June, 2018)

The EMU 115 series is a standard local train launched in 1963. Nearly 2,000 units had been built for 20 years, but most of them have already been scrapped. For instance, all the 115 series had already been replaced by the 211 series on the Chuo line in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The Niigata area is no exception. Many sets of the 115 series have already been replaced by the E129 series. Currently, only 7 sets of the 115 series are barely living; the 115 series is close to extinction in the Niigata area.

The JR East Niigata Branch Office has started action for rail fans under the above circumstances. On February 22nd this year, they started to ask the public to help the next color design for set N35 of the 115 series, since set N35 is going to be taken out of operation for inspection. It will be a good chance to change the body color for rail fans. Then, on July 24th, they announced the result. Set N35 will be backed from "the 3rd generation Niigata color" to "the 2nd generation Niigata color" upon many requests by rail fains. 

Eventually, on September 14th, the JR East Niigata Branch Office made a press release announcing that set N35 of the EMU 115 series with "the 2nd generation Niigata color" will be launched on September 15th.

By cooperation of the railway operator and the rail fans, the last chapter of the 115 series has just begun in the Niigata area.

"The 2nd generation Niigata color" of the EMU 115 series (June, 2014)

Official information about the EMU JR East 115 series (in Japanese):

Monday, 8 October 2018

The Oldest Preserved Streetcar in Yokohama

Streetcar 523 of the 500 series is exhibited in Yokohama Tram Museum

Some time has passed since I reported about the Yokohama Tram Museum. Today, I am going to continue to show you the streetcar exhibited in the museum.

Unit number 523 of the 500 series is the oldest streetcar exhibited in the Yokohama Tram Museum. It was launched in 1928 and operated by the Transportation Bureau of the city of Yokohama until 1969. The 500 series was one of the major streetcar groups in Yokohama. A total of 60 units were built by Tokyo Gas Denki, Kamata Sharyo and Amemiya Seisakusho. The 500 series has classic four-wheel trucks named Brill 79-E made in the U.S.A. Two electric motors with 26 kW output were equipped. As it had a beautiful rounded roof and an elegant arch-shaped ceiling, the 500 series was the symbol of the recovery from the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. The car length is 9.144 meters. The maximum capacity was 75 passengers. The type of power contact is a bow collector.

Incidentally, the city of Yokohama once had an extensive tram network. The first route was opened 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. The Yokohama Tram Museum is the largest preserved facility of streetcars in the city of Yokohama.

Side view of streetcar 523, close up

Official information about theYokohama Tram Museum (in Japanese):

Friday, 5 October 2018

Sayonara to the Tokyo Metro 6000 Series

Set 30 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 6000 series stands at Yoyogi-Uehara station (June, 2014) 

One of the greatest trains in Tokyo will soon disappear from the track. On September 28th, Tokyo Metro made a press release announcing that their commuter train, the EMU 6000 series, will be retired from the Chiyoda line on November 11th this year.

The 6000 series was launched in 1968. A total of 36 sets, 353 units were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and the other four brands. The specification of the 6000 series was futuristic, as it was equipped with an armature chopper electric control device together with a regeneration brake system. Its asymmetric frontal design and shining aluminum body with green colored stripes were also "futuristic", even half a century after its debut. The 6000 series was elected as a winner of the Laurel Prize by the Japan Rail Fan Club in 1972.

Currently, the electric system of the 6000 series has been renovated to the VVVF control (variable-frequency drive) with induction motors. The scrapping of the old sets also started in 2010, since the brand new EMU 16000 series was launched to replace the 6000 series. The EMU 16000 series will become the sole model on the Chiyoda line after November 12th. The good news is that many sets of the 6000 series have been moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, because the Indonesian railway operator has been pursuing modernization of the railways in their capital city.

Sayonara (good-bye) and arigatou (thank you) to the Tokyo Metro 6000 series.

Set 35 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 6000 series (January, 2010)

Official information about the EMU Tokyo Metro 6000 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Bernina II: Hakone-tozan's Special Colored Train

Set B2 (KuMoHa1003 + KuMoHa1004), Bernina II, of the EMU Hakone-tozan 1000 series

After writing about Hakone-tozan's new model in my recent post, I found that I haven't shown you a train named Bernina II on the same railway yet. Today, I am going to show you Bernina II, whose formal name is set B2 (KuMoHa1003 + KuMoHa1004) of the EMU 1000 series. The introduction of trains in the Tokyo metropolitan area is indeed endless.

Bernina II is a 3-car train built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. It was launched in 1984 as a 2-car train. One car, namely MoHa2202, was, then, added in 2001 for enhancing transportation capacity. Bernina II is composed of all motorcars. Different from Bernina I (set B1 of the EMU 1000 series), Bernina II has vermilion colored bodies with gray and white colored stripes. It is same as the traditional color design for Odakyu Romance Car. As you may know, Hakone-tozan is a subsidiary of Odakyu Electric Railway.

Incidentally, Bernina is a name of the mountain rising between Switzerland and Italy. Hakone-tozan Railway has tied up with Ratische Railway in Switzerland, which operates the Bernina line. It is said that the scenery on the Bernina line is very beautiful. Now that Bernina has become a famous mountain in Japan, I wish to visit the Bernina mountain and Bernina line someday in the future.

I recently saw plenty of foreign tourists boarding Bernina II at Hakone-Yumoto station. Compared with sometime ago, the number of inbound tourists has been soaring. Hakone mountain has become an international sightseeing spot.

Set B2, Bernina II, of the EMU Hakone-tozan1000 series heads to Hakone-yumoto

Official information about the EMU Hakone-tozan 1000 series (in Japanese):
Official information about Hakone-tozan Railway:
Official movie about Hakone-tozan Railway: