Thursday, 30 December 2021

The Nagareyama Line: Update, Part 2

Mix colored Ryutetsu train, KuMoHa 5003 (red) + KuMoHa 5105 (yellow)

Let me continue where I left off my last post.

I'm going to introduce the rolling stock on the Ryutetsu Nagareyama line in more detail. The EMU 5000 series is the sole model operated on the line. It's the ex-Seibu New 101 series, and moved to Ryutetsu in 2010. Five sets in total belong to Nagareyama Rail Yard. Each set has a different base color. They are pink (set 5001, "Sakura"), orange (set 5002, "Ryusei"), red (set 5003, "Akagi"), light-green (set 5004, "Wakaba") and yellow (set 5005, "Nanohana"). One set is composed of two 20 meters-long motorcars. They are Class KuMoHa 5000 and KuMoHa 5100. Class KuMoHa 5000 has two pantographs and rheostatic controllers; meanwhile, Class KuMoHa 5100 has a motor generator and a compressor. Each car has four 150 kW DC motors. All sets have been modified to meet a driver-only operation, as conductors are not on board on Nagareyama line trains.

In the meantime, I found a mixed-colored train by chance. It's a combination of a red car (KuMoHa 5003) and a yellow car (KuMoHa 5105). According to several rail fans' sites, KuMoHa 5005 of the set 5005, "Nanohana", broke down during operation on November 22nd this year. The combination of the red and the yellow car may be a temporary solution to cope with the car trouble. Although it's a cursed nuisance for Ryutetsu railway engineers, I was happy to see this kind of rare train as a trainspotter. Trainspotters are troublesome creatures.

Mix colored train of the EMU Ryutetsu 5000 series stands at Mabashi station

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

The Nagareyama Line: Update

Set 5002, "Ryusei" of the EMU Ryutetsu 5000 series

The end of the year is coming soon. Time really flies. The spread of COVID-19 is lessening in Japan, so, I recently visited the Ryutetsu Nagareyama line for the first time in seven years. What was new with this local route?

Before getting down to the main topic, let me quickly review the Nagareyama line. It's a short private railway operated by Ryutetsu company in Chiba Prefecture, about 20 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Its route length is 5.7 kilometers between Mabashi and Nagareyama stations. Nagareyama has been developed as a center of an inland water transportation system since the 18th century, and changed to a commuter city in the 1970s. The route was opened in 1916 by Nagareyama Light Railway Company (present Ryutetsu Company). Passengers are commuters and students who go to offices and schools in Tokyo and its surrounding large cities. The track is single and electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. 2-car trains are operated every 13 to 20 minutes.

I found that the color design of the trains had been changed compared to seven years ago. For example, set 5002 of the EMU 5000 series named "Ryusei" was changed from orange with a white stripe to orange and light-blue two-toned. It was designed by an illustrator Sugimoto Seina. She designed not only the train bodies but also the frontal plates and the hold on straps. This unique train was launched in January, 2021.

To be continued...

Set 5002, "Ryusei" arrives at Nagareyama station

Official information about the rolling stock of Ryutetsu (in Japanese):
Official website, Ryutetsu (in Japanese):

Saturday, 25 December 2021

Type C Train: New Model on the Disney Resort Line

Set 1 of the EMU 100 series (Type C train) arrives at Tokyo Disney Land station

Merry Christmas! The spread of COVID-19 is lessening in Japan. Most of the amusement parks are open as usual. Tokyo Disney Resort is no exception, but you need to make a reservation in advance. I recently visited the Disney Resort line in Tokyo Disney Resort for the first time in almost eight years.

Let's quickly review the Disney Resort line. It's a monorail route operated by Maihama Resort Line Company. It's a public transport opened in 2001 under the Railway Business Act, NOT an attraction inside the resort. The route is a looped single track running through amusement facilities, official hotels and JR East Maihama station. It's 5 kilometer-long with four stations. The trains run counterclockwise throughout the day. Using ATO (automatic train operation) system, driverless operation is conducted; meanwhile, a conductor is on board for door operation and guide announcements to passengers.

What's new with this resort monorail? I found a new train named the EMU 100 series (hereafter "Type C") on the line. It was commissioned in July, 2020 to replace the old model, 10 series (hereafter "Type X"). Two sets of Type C are currently operated on the line. What are the differences between the two models? The outer designs are similar to each other, but only Type C has color shades on the body stripe. The passenger windows of Type C are slightly larger than those of the Type X. Regarding the interior, Type C has simple long seats; meanwhile Type X has corner sofa-type seats.

Interior of the EMU 100 series (Type C train)

Official website, Disney Resort line:
Official website, the 20th anniversary of Disney Resort line
including promotion movie (in Japanese):

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Yotsuya: "Four Valleys" in the Urban Area

JR East Yotsuya station is situated in a valley

Tokyo is a city of hills. It's especially true in the western part of the downtown area. Yotsuya is no exception. Yotsuya means "four valleys" in Japanese. In fact, JR East Yotsuya station is situated in a valley. There is a railway tunnel in the immediate vicinity of the station that cannot be imagined within a city center. I pass through Yotsuya by train every day on my way to the office.

One day, I stopped over at Yotsuya station as I had a business meeting there. I had some time before my meeting, so I enjoyed a stroll for a while. What was new with this valley station? I found that the railway signal for the eastbound trains on the Chuo Rapid line track was moved about 200 meters toward the east. It's probably because of the effect of platform extension work. JR East currently plans to connect additional cars for the existing Chuo Rapid line commuter trains. 10-car trains will be changed to 12-car ones by the fiscal year 2023. During the above work period, the station platforms are also extended at each station. Under the influence of platform extension, the railway signal at Yotsuya station had to be moved.

Now I understand what had hitherto puzzled me... why do train traffic jams recently form during morning rush hour at Yotsuya station? The answer must be... "because the railway signal was moved". Is it trifling news? You're not wrong, but it was an eye-opening experience for me.

The railway signal was recently moved about 200 meters toward the east.
(The previous position was here)

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

The New Shuttle: Maruyama Rail Yard

Maruyama Rail Yard

Let me continue where I left off my last post. After taking a photo of the EMU 2020 series, I stopped by Maruyama Rail Yard near Maruyama station. It's New Shuttle's only rail yard.

I could observe many trains from an outer road of the yard and a bridge crossing the storage tracks. They were the EMU 2000 and 2020 series. The 2000 series is the largest fleet on the line. It was commissioned in 2007 to replace the old EMU 1010 series. 7 sets, 42 cars in total, belong to Maruyama Rail Yard. Each set has a different color. Among these, set 01 (dark pink), 02 (orange), 03 (green) and 06 (red) were being stored on the storage tracks. On the other hand, the 2020 series is the cutting edge model on the line. I could see set 23 (dark pink) and 24 (yellow) on the storage tracks.

I found one more... set 53 of the EMU 1050 series. It's the second generation train launched in 1990 for the entire opening of the route. 4 sets (24 cars) of the 1050 series were built, but currently, set 53 may be only active on the line. The 1050 series has got older, and is near the end of its own life. The body color of the 1050 series was changed to white in 2019, matching the brand new 2020 series.

Maruyama Rail Yard is open to the public once a year. I would like to join the next rail yard tour.

EMU New Shuttle 2000 (left), 1050 (center) and 2020 (right) series

Sunday, 19 December 2021

The New Shuttle: Update

Set 25 of the EMU New Shuttle 2020 series travels on the Ina line

I visited the Ina line of Saitama New Urban Transit Company (hereafter "the New Shuttle") for the first time in four years. What's new with this AGT line?

To begin with, let's quickly review the New Shuttle. The New Shuttle is a rubber-tyred automated guideway transit (AGT) system in Saitama Prefecture, about 30 kilometers north of Tokyo. Its route length is 12.7 kilometers between Omiya and Uchijuku stations. The track is mostly double, but partly single. The route was opened in 1983 beside the JR East's Joetsu Shinkansen track. Unlike the other AGT lines such as the Yurikamome, Nippori-Toneri Liner and Seaside Line, a driver operates each train. It's not a driver-less operation.

I found that many trains had been retired from the track for the past four years. For example, set 1151 of the EMU 1050 series disappeared in March, 2020. I liked this red-colored vehicle, but would no longer be able to see it. The remaining two sets of the 1050 series are still on active duty, but chances for traveling on the track are getting less and less because of degradation over time. Another news is the increasing number of the latest model, the EMU 2020 series. Five sets of the 2020 series are being operated on the line. They have green (set 21), orange (set 22), pink (set 23), yellow (set 24) and purple-colored (set 25) stripes... very colorful. I show you the newest set, named set 25, debuted in February, 2020. Please look at the picture above.

To be continued...

Set 1151 of the EMU New Shuttle 1050 series (January, 2016)

Official information about the New Shuttle (in Japanese):

Friday, 17 December 2021

Riverside Walking on the Keisei Line

EMU Keisei 3700 series crosses Edo River Bridge in the sunset

The Tokyo metropolitan area is cut by many rivers. They are Tama, Sumida, Arakawa, Edo River and so on. I like to walk along these river banks. It provides me with a relaxation. While gazing at the river flow and the scenery around, I often enjoy walking for hours.

Edo River is one of my favorite walking courses. We can admire pale pink cherry blossoms on the river bank in early spring. In early summer, iris flowers are vivid on the flood plain. In this winter season, there are only a few flowers, but the sunset is stunning as the air is clear. When I recently enjoyed walking near Kohnodai station, I came across a Keisei train, the EMU 3700 series, crossing Edo River Bridge in the beautiful winter sunset.

Taking this opportunity, let me introduce the 3700 series. This urban commuter train was commissioned in 1991 as Keisei's first model with a VVVF-inverter (variable frequency drive) control system. A total of 132 cars were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Nippon Sharyo. GTO (Gate Turn-Off thyristor) was adopted as a semiconductor device. It's a rather old device nowadays, but still in good condition. The outer design of the 3700 series is very similar with that of the 3400 series. The 3700 series has stainless-steel bodies; while the 3400 series has steel bodies. The 3700 series has the larger model number than that of the 3400 series, but it's older than the 3400 series. This complicated model numbering annoys trainspotters like me.

Crossing Edo River Bridge, EMU Keisei 3700 series arrives at Kohnodai station

Official information about the EMU Keisei 3700 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

EMU Keisei 3050 Series: Update

EMU Keisei 3050 series, "Airport Express", travels on the Keikyu line

Because of the COVID-19 calamity, airline companies are facing financial difficulties in Japan. Accordingly, railway companies, which have airport access routes, are also in a tough situation. Keisei Electric Railway is no exception. 44% of the airport access "Skyliner" trains were temporarily suspended until the end of October this year due to decreasing passengers.

Although Keisei was in the worst condition, the company continues to improve the quality of transportation. For example, in October, 2020, a brand new train named the EMU 3100 series was commissioned. It was the first time for the introduction of a new model on the Keisei line in 9 years. The 3100 series is operated as an "Access Express" train between the New Tokyo International Airport (Narita) and the Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) via the Hokuso, Toei-Asakusa and the Keikyu lines. The 3100 series has futuristic stainless-steel bodies with orange-colored stripes.

Following the debut of the 3100 series, the existing Access Express train namely the EMU Keisei 3050 series was also renewed a bit. Its body stripe color was changed from blue to orange. It's just a minor change, but important for passengers to distinguish the Access Express train from the other trains to prevent getting on the wrong trains. For your information, the 3050 series was commissioned in 2010 for airport-to-airport transportation. It has the same technical specifications as the EMU Keisei 3000 series commuter train. Different from Keisei Skyliner and JR East Narita Express, the Access Express train requires no extra charge.

EMU Keisei 3050 series stands at Keisei-Hikifune station

Official route map, Keisei Access Express:
Official information about the Keisei trains (in Japanese):
Official website, Keisei Electric Railway:

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Yellow Colors on the Seibu-Tamagawa Line

EMU Seibu New-101 series, "Seibu revival color", travels on the Tamagawa line

It's starting to feel more like early winter in Tokyo. The leaves on the urban trees have turned brown, red and yellow. I recently enjoyed a stroll at Nogawa Park in the western suburb of Tokyo. Yellow-colored fallen ginkgo leaves covered the ground of the park. They were shining golden yellow from the sunlight. It was so beautiful.

To get to Nogawa Park, the nearest station is Tama on the Seibu-Tamagawa line. The Tamagawa line is a short local route. Connecting Musashi-Sakai on the JR East Chuo Line and Koremasa near Tama River, the operating length is only 8 kilometers. My vehicle was the EMU New-101 series. This model was launched in 1979, and had been operated on Seibu's trunk lines such as the Ikebukuro line for over three decades. It was then moved to the Tamagawa line in 2010. The body color of the New-101 series was white at that time.

Later in 2017 and 2018, there were various changes in the color designs of the New-101 series. New designs are Izu-Hakone Raiway color, Akaden color, Ohmi Railway color and "Seibu revival color". The former three were taken from the trains of Seibu's sister railway companies; meanwhile, "Seibu revival color" is the original yellow color of the New-101 series, when it debuted in 1979. It's a bit of a complicated coloring history of the New-101 series, but I hope that you understand the outline.

The fallen leaves and the nostalgic train... I really enjoyed "the yellow colors" on the Seibu-Tamagawa line.

Yellow-colored fallen ginkgo leaves cover the ground of Nogawa Park

Official information about the EMU Seibu New-101 series (in Japanese):
Official website, Seibu Railway:

Thursday, 9 December 2021

JR West’s New Protagonist on the Local Lines

EMU JR West 227-1000 series arrives at Miwa station on the Sakurai line

When I visited Nara Prefecture in October, I saw a strange train on the JR West Sakurai line. It was a brand-new model, the EMU 227-1000 series. I'm going to show you this new commuter train today.

The 227-1000 series was commissioned in March, 2019 to replace the decrepit models such as the 105 and the 117 series. 68 cars in total were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo from 2019 to 2021. One set is composed of only two cars, because the 227-1000 series is for local lines. The 227-1000 series enables a train operation without a conductor. It has onboard ticket gates. A driver observes passengers getting on and off in the cockpit, and operates passenger doors. Different from the other JR West commuter trains, the 227-1000 series has only long seats.

In terms of the technical specifications, the 227-1000 series employs what we call 0.5M system. It means that all cars have both a driving truck and a trailing truck. It enables the weight equalization of each car, and enhances passengers' riding comfort. Furthermore, this system enhances vehicle formation flexibility, as all cars are the same... motorcars with an electric controller. The electric control system is an IGBT-VVVF (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor - variable frequency drive) inverter. One car has two 270 kW three phase-induction motors.

The 227-1000 series has shining stainless-steel bodies with dark green, black and gray-colored stripes. It fits historical areas on the Sakurai line and it's definitely my favorite.

A driver operates passenger doors at Miwa station on the Sakurai line

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Autumn Roses and DDT on the Odakyu Line

EMU Odakyu 60000 (left) and 4000 series (right) travel side by side on the DDT section

Roses look great in May when they are in full bloom, but autumn roses are also attractive. I visited Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden in Kawasaki City last month to see the autumn roses in season.

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden was opened in 1958 as a part of Mukogaoka Amusement Park by Odakyu Electric Railway. I can retrace my memory to the time when I visited there on a primary school excursion with my teacher and classmates. Although Mukogaoka Amusement Park was closed in 2002 due to a decreasing number of visitors, the rose garden was taken over by Kawasaki City, and continued. As soon as I entered the garden, I could feel the lovely breeze, which was carrying the rose-scented air. I enjoyed red, pink, white and yellow-colored roses in bloom.

To get to this beautiful garden, the nearest station is Mukogaoka-yuen on the Odakyu line. Taking this opportunity, I'm going to show you the double-double track (DDT) of the Odakyu line. Odakyu is one of the busiest railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The company decided to increase tracks from double to DDT between Yoyogi-Uehara and Noborito stations in order to alleviate congestion. The construction work took nearly 30 years because of the built-up area, but was eventually completed in 2018. The inner two tracks are used for limited express "Romance Cars" and express trains; meanwhile, the outer tracks are for Semi-express and local trains. To see parallel travelling trains like a race is exciting for rail-fans.

Ikuta Ryokuchi Rose Garden near Mukogaoka-yuen station on the Odakyu line

Official information about the DDT on the Odakyu line (in Japanese):

Saturday, 4 December 2021

EMU E131-500 series: New Model on the Sagami Line

Set G-07 of the EMU JR East E131-500 series travels on the Sagami line

Following the 100th anniversary, I'm going to show you another news on the JR East Sagami line. It's the debut of a new train model. On November 18th this year, JR East launched a new model named the EMU E131-500 series on the Sagami line. The introduction of the new model was for the first time in 30 years on the line. The E131-500 series is a "younger brother" of the E131 series, which was commissioned in the Chiba area in March this year.

What are the differences between the E131 series and the E131-500 series? The largest difference is the composition of one train. The "elder brother", namely the E131 series, is composed of 2 cars; while the "younger brother", the E131-500 series consists of 4 cars. The E131 series has yellow and light blue-colored stripes on their bodies; while the E131-500 series has dark blue and light blue-colored ones. The E131 series has both cross and long seats; while the E131-500 series has only long seats. I hope that the new model will be welcomed by the local people.

According to JR East, 12 sets, 48 cars in total, of the E131-500 series will be built by J-TREC, and commissioned on the Sagami line by March, 2022. It means that the all existing 205-500 series will be replaced and retired from the track by that time. The 205-500 series left the track with only four months of the operation remaining. The Sagami line is undergoing a rapid generational change.

Set G-07 of the EMU JR East E131-500 series stands at Shimomizo station

Official information about the EMU JR East E131-500 series (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

The 100th Anniversary of the Sagami Line

Set R1 of the EMU JR East 205-500 series travels on the Sagami line

The JR East Sagami line is a local railway route penetrating Kanagawa Prefecture from south to north. Connecting Chigasaki, a Pacific city, and Hashimoto, an interior transportation key junction, its total length is 33.3 kilometers. The entire route is electrified but single track. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. 4-car trains named the EMU 205-500 series are operated every 20 minutes on average.

The Sagami line was opened in 1921 by Sagami railway company to transport gravel from the Sagami riverbed to large cities for constructions. The route was nationalized under government control during WWII. It was then privatized again in 1986, when the Japanese National Railway was split into seven companies. As you know, it's currently operated by East Japan railway company (JR East).

On September 28th this year, JR East marked the 100th anniversary of the Sagami line. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary, a memorial plate is displayed on their train, set R1 of the EMU 205-500 series. Set R1 was built as the first set of the EMU 205-500 series by Tokyu-sharyo in 1991. 13 sets, 52 cars, in total of the 205-500 series were built in the same year. Its technical specifications are rather old, but it WAS the sole reliable model on the line. Why "WAS"? It's because a new model was just recently launched on the Sagami line for the first time in 30 years. I'm going to show you it on my next post.

To be continued...

The 100th anniversary plate is displayed on the EMU 205-500 series

Official information about the EMU JR East 205 series (in Japanese):

Monday, 29 November 2021

Late-Autumn on the Joban Line

Set K421 of the EMU JR East E531 series arrives at Matsudo station

It's feeling like late autumn more and more. I enjoyed walking with my family on the weekend. Our destination this time was Matsudo City in Chiba Prefecture, about 20 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Along the riverside, we saw a "silver wave" in the field. It was the best season to view an awful lot of rabbit ears of silver grass. They changed color from green to silver, and they will then turn gold from exposure to the sun. The breeze blowing against them also created an autumn sound.

To get to this beautiful riverside, the nearest railway station is Matsudo on the JR East Joban line. We took the Joban line from Ueno terminal. Our vehicle was the EMU JR East E531 series, which was launched in 2005. The E531 series is an AC-DC dual system train with a maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour. 460 cars in total were built by Tokyu Sharyo and the others. It's composed of 10 cars in the main sets, with 5 cars in the subsets. Two double-decker Green Cars (the first-class cars), namely Class SaRo E530 and E531, are incorporated in the main set. The gleaming stainless-steel body with dark blue-colored stripes is an outward characteristic of the E531 series.

For your information, some of the Joban line trains share the Ueno-Tokyo line track with the Tokaido line trains, carrying out the direct operation to Shinagawa Station in the southern part of Tokyo. The train operation routes in Tokyo are indeed complicated.

Silver grass field near Matsudo station on the JR East Joban line

Official information about the JR East E531 series (in Japanese):

Friday, 26 November 2021

Simulated Travel to Indonesia: Part 2

Set TB-7 (Indonesia color) of the EMU 8000 series travels on the Izukyu line

Following the outline report of the chartered train event on the Izukyu line, I'm going to be more specific about this chartered train today.

The train, which we chartered from Izukyu Railway, was set TB-7 of the EMU 8000 series. The 8000 series was originally commissioned in 1969 on the Tokyu-Toyoko line. The 8000 series became the big force on the Tokyu lines, but it was then replaced by the new models step by step. The final set was eventually retired from the track in 2008. After retirement from Tokyu, 24 cars were moved to Indonesia; meanwhile, 45 cars were transferred to Izukyu to spend a new life.

Set TB-7 of the 8000 series is a 3-car train on the Izukyu line. Its technical specification is rather old, but it's still one of the leading players on the line. Set TB-7 has stainless-steel bodies without any coloring. We chartered this train, and temporarily changed its front color design to that of the Indonesian Railway namely red and yellow. It was beautiful under the autumn sunshine.

When I was in high school, I used the 8000 series on the Tokyu-Toyoko line every day to go to school. I then ran into the 8000 series again in Jakarta, Indonesia, when I was stationed there 14 years ago. The local railway operator in Jakarta was pursuing the modernization of the trains, and introduced the second-hand 8000 series from Tokyu at that time. I'm probably inseparable from the 8000 series.

EMU Izukyu 8000 series (left) and EMU JR East E257-2000 series (right)

Official website, Izukyu Railway:
Official photogallery, Izukyu Railway:

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Simulated Travel to Indonesia Taking the Izukyu Line

EMU 8000 series with the Indonesian Railway logo (left) & color design (right)

Because of the COVID-19 calamity, I can't go abroad this year anymore. I love Indonesian railways as I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia until 2011, but it's going to take some time before I can visit there again. What should I do?

The answer is a simulated travel to Indonesia in Japan. On November 14th, Indonesian railway lovers in Japan gathered in Izukogen railyard of Izukyu Railway. Chartering a train on the Izukyu line, we enjoyed a special travel for pretending to go to Indonesia. Why Izukyu? In Indonesia, there are a lot of secondhand trains from Japan. The EMU Tokyu 8000 series is one of them. After retirement from Tokyu, several sets of the 8000 series were transferred to Indonesia; meanwhile, the other sets were moved to the Izukyu line. We temporally changed the color design of the Izukyu 8000 series to that of Indonesian Railway, and chartered it.

Firstly, we held a photo session at Izukogen railyard in front of the 8000 series in Indonesian style. We then got on the chartered train, and made a round trip to Izukyu-Shimoda station. While on board, we enjoyed a bottle of Indonesian brand beer namely "Bintang (star)". We also took photos together, had lunch together and had a dream-like moment together. Speaking with kindred minds was fun and time flew by. The simulated travel was indeed a great success. I'm truly grateful to the organizer "KLB", the coordinator "Pakuan Ekspres" and all the staff of Izukyu Railway.

To be continued...

Indonesian brand beer, "Bintang (star)"

Official information about the rollingstock of Izukyu Railway:
Official website, "Omoshiro-stationmaster", Izukyu Railway (in Japanese):

Friday, 19 November 2021

Hinotori at a Glance

EMU Kintetsu 80000 series, limited express "Hinotori", stands at Nagoya station

After enjoying autumn in Nara, we started our homeward journey. Taking the Kintetsu Osaka line, we went to Nagoya by the Meihan Limited Express train. This train travels between Osaka (Namba) and Nagoya via Nara Prefecture with a maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour. It's of course much slower than that of JR Central's Tokaido Shinkansen, but is more luxurious and inexpensive. Our vehicle was the EMU 21000 series, "Urban Liner".

When we arrived at Nagoya station, I found a new Meihan Limited Express model, the EMU 80000 series, Hinotori, on the adjacent track. Hinotori means "a firebird or phoenix" in Japanese. The 80000 series was commissioned in March, 2020. 11 sets (8-car and 6-car trains) in total were built by Kinki-sharyo. Its streamlined shining bodies are very vivid and definitely my favorite. The interior of the 80000 series is gorgeous. For instance, all seats in the premium car have back shells, so, you don't need to worry about disturbing a passenger sitting behind you. With regard to the technical specifications, the premium car has an active suspension system, which is a special device to minimize the lateral swinging movement of the train.

The EMU Kintetsu 80000 series, Hinotori, was elected as the 2021 Blue Ribbon Prize train. The Blue Ribbon Prize is an annual award presented by the Japan Railfan Club (JRC) since 1958, awarded to the best train that launched in the previous year. I also voted for the 80000 series as a member of JRC.

Side view of the EMU Kintetsu 80000 series

Hinotori, Kintetsu's official website:
Official detailed description about Hinotori (in Japanese):

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Cosmos Field in the Ancient City

EMU Kintetsu 1233 series stands at Kashihara-jingu-mae station

After staying in Nara City, we moved to Kashihara City, about 30 kilometers south of Nara. Along with Nara, Kashihara is known as Japan's ancient capital named Fujiwara-kyo. The period of Fujiwara-kyo was from 694 to 710. It was after Asuka-kyo (592-694) and before Heijo-kyo namely Nara (710-784). Fujiwara-kyo was a 5 kilometers square grid-patterned city, which had an estimated population of 20,000. Today, the imperial palace ruins are only seen, but I could feel the existence of a vast ancient capital city there. The site of the former city center is now a vast cosmos field. It was filled with a carpet of cosmos flowers when we visited. They were magenta, pink and white-colored, and were shaking with the wind in the sunshine. We saw that many people were visiting to enjoy this autumn field.

To get to this ancient capital, the gateway station is Kashihara-jingu-mae on the Kintetsu-Kashihara line. Our vehicle was the EMU Kintetsu 1233 series. It's a standard commuter train composed of a motorcar and a trailer (1M1T). It was commissioned in 1989. 15 sets in total were built by Kinki-sharyo. The 1233 series belongs to the 1230 series group trains. Different from the original 1230 series, the 1233 series has a new type of bogies named KD-96B (M) and KD-96C (T) developed by Kinki-sharyo. These bogies have a shorter wheelbase to manage curve tracks. Technical specifications of the Kintetsu trains vary depending on the train, so, it's hard to understand even for trainspotters like me.

Fujiwara-kyo ancient capital is now a vast cosmos field 

Official information about the EMU Kintetsu 1230 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 14 November 2021

The City of Deer in 2021

Kyoto Municipal Subway 10 series (left), Hanshin 1000 series (right) at Nara station

Nara is the city of deer. One of the attractions is to be close to wild deer in the downtown area such as Nara Park. Deer in Nara have been protected as a messenger of God since the 8th century, and were designated as a Natural Treasure of the State in 1957. There are about 1,200 deer in the city. The number of deer has obviously been increasing. We came across a deer family even in a residential area this time. Tourists are allowed to feed deer, but be aware that wild deer can attack you especially in rut. For your information, feeding deer other than Shika-senbei is prohibited in Nara Park. Shika-senbei is a cracker sold at shops for tourists to feed deer in the park.

To meet with the wild deer, the nearest railway station is Nara on the Kintetsu line. We can see many kinds of trains from major cities in the Kansai District at this station. They are not only Kintetsu's trains but also other operators' ones. For example, we came across Hanshin Railway's train. It was the EMU 1000 series directly operated from Kobe City via the Hanshin-Namba line. It's an 8 or 2-car train commissioned in 2009. We also came across Kyoto Municipal Subway's train. It was the EMU 10 series directly operated from Kyoto City via the subway Karasuma line. It's a 6-car train commissioned in 1981.

The wild deer and various kinds of trains... I fully enjoyed Nara City.

Wild deer in Nara City

Official information, the EMU Hanshin 1000 series (in Japanese):
Official information, the EMU Kyoto Municipal Subway 10 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Revisit to the Ancient Capital

Kintetsu limited express train bound for Nara stands at Kyoto station

It's late-Autumn in Japan. The maximum daytime temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius in the main island, so, it's the best season for traveling. I visited Nara with my family for the first time in three years. Nara is the city where Japan's capital was located from 710 to 784. We fully enjoyed the autumn of this ancient capital.

To get to Nara, we took the Kintetsu line from Kyoto station. Our vehicle was the EMU 22000 series commissioned in 1992. It's the major model of the Kintetsu limited express fleet for the standard gauge (1,435 mm-wide gauge) track. Its egg-shaped frontal mask is cute and definitely my favorite. The 22000 series won the good design award from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1993. Renovation of the bodies was then started in 2015. The body color was changed from a single color of orange to two-tone orange and white. The stripe was also changed from ultramarine to a gold color. Regarding the interior, seat cushions were replaced by the softer ones. Toilets were also replaced by new ones. Luggage racks were provided anew.

After arriving at Nara station, we firstly visited Todaiji-temple to see the Great Buddha, which is 15 meters high, and known as the largest gold and bronze Buddha in the world. It was originally completed in 752, and major repairs were conducted in the 12th and 16th centuries after civil wars and natural disasters. To my delight, visitors are allowed to take its photograph... it's very kind.

To be continued...

The Great Buddha of Todai-ji temple in Nara City

Types of Limited Express Trains, Kintetsu official website:
Official information about the EMU Kintetsu 22000 series (in Japanese):

Sunday, 7 November 2021

The 30th Anniversary of the EMU Tobu 200 Series

Set 205 of the EMU Tobu 200 series, "the 1800 series revival color"

On February 1st, 2021, Tobu Railway celebrated the 30th anniversary of the EMU 200 series operations. In commemoration of the anniversary, the company launched one set of special revival color train on the Isesaki and Kiryu lines. It's set 205 of the 200 series.

Set 205 was originally launched in 1992. It had white-colored steel bodies with red and black-colored stripes. On August 7th of this year, its body color was changed to a vivid red with white stripes. This color design was taken from the former "Ryomo" limited express train namely EMU 1800 series, which was retired from the track in 2018.

Incidentally, the 200 series belongs to the Tobu limited express train fleet. It's operated between Tokyo Metropolis and the northern Kanto District as a limited express train "Ryomo". The 200 series debuted in 1991 to replace the old train, the EMU 1800 series. 10 sets in total were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Alna Sharyo from 1990 to 1998. One set is composed of six cars.

What do you foresee in the future of the 200 series? I expect that all the 200 series will be replaced by the new model, EMU 500 series, in the near future. The number of the 500 series for Ryomo limited express trains has been increasing since 2017. On the other hand, two sets of the 200 series were scrapped for these two years. Nobody can stop the transition to the next generation regardless of whether you like it or not.

EMU Tobu 200 series, "standard color", travels on the Nikko line

Official information about the EMU Tobu 200 series, limited express "Ryomo":
Official information about the revival colored train (in Japanese):