Saturday, August 1, 2015

Old Five-Storied Pagoda on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line

EMU Kintetsu 2800 series arrives at Akameguchi Station on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line

Muro-ji is an old temple in Nara Prefecture, some 500 km west of Tokyo. It is considered to be founded by En-no Ozuno in 680, but it's anybody's guess. The temple is located in a mountain along Muro River. The existing oldest building on the premises is the five-storied pagoda, which was constructed around 794. The small slender tower is very beautiful backed by a green forest. Roofs covered with Japanese cypress barks are also characteristic of this pagoda. It was designated as a National Treasure in 1951.

To get to this historical temple, please take the Kintetsu-Osaka Line and get off at Muroguchi-Ono Station. It takes about one hour from Uehonmachi Station in the downtown Osaka area. Luxury intercity express trains, such as Urban Liner and Ise-Shima Liner, don't stop at this quiet station, so please take a local train bound for Nabari, Aoyamacho or Isuzugawa.

EMU 2800 series is a main fleet on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line. It was launched in 1972 to replace the decrepit model, EMU 1400 series. The gauge size is 1,435 mm and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. Two rounded frontal lights beside the destination display are lovely and good accents. Although more than 40 years have passed since the 2800 series debuted, 17 sets (2-car, 3-car and 4-car trains), 59 units are still operated on the track.

Enjoy the Kintetsu's old train and the five-storied pagoda! It will be an unforgettable day for you.
Five-storied pagoda is seen in Muro-ji Temple near Muroguchi-Ono Station on the Kintetsu-Osaka Line
Official information about the EMU Kintetsu 2800 series (in Japanese):

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Scenery on the Yokosuka Line

EMU JR East E217 series stands at Kurihama Terminal on the Yokosuka Line

The Japan Meteorological Agency made a press release announcing that this year's rainy season ended on July 19th in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which means that midsummer has begun. This week's high was 35.8 degrees Celsius in Tokyo. So, the only thing we can do is escape the city at the weekend and go to a beach!

Miura Peninsula is a famous ocean resort in the southern suburb of Tokyo. By taking just an ordinary commuter train, we can reach a beautiful beach for swimming easily from downtown Tokyo. One of my favorite spots is Arasaki in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Arasaki is a headland on the west coast of the peninsula, about 70 kilometers south west of Tokyo. You can see steeply dipping sandstone, siltstone and tuff beds, which were deposited in the deep sea about 4 to 12 million years ago. The coast provides visitors with good places for enjoying themselves at the rocky shores.

To visit this beautiful spot, please take the JR East Yokosuka Line and get off at Kurihama Terminal. It takes about 80 minutes from Tokyo Station by the E217 series train. The E217 series was launched in 1994 to replace the old EMU 113 series. It is a typical commuter train with eight doors per unit. It is equipped with long seats, but cross seats are also allocated for long distance passengers in several cars. Most trains are directly operated into the Sobu Line via Tokyo Station.

Taking the Yokosuka Line, please enjoy the midsummer scenery.

Summer scenery of Arasaki in Yokosuka City near Kurihama Station on the JR East Yokosuka Line 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The 90th Anniversary of Dragon Rail

Diesel Railcar JR East KiHa100-0 series arrives at Rikuchu-Kanzaki Station on the Oofunato Line

On July 26th, JR East celebrated the 90th anniversary of its Oofunato Line in Tohoku District, some 450 km north of Tokyo. The Oofunato Line was partially opened between Ichinoseki and Surisawa (30.6km) on July 26th in 1925. The route then fully opened to Sakari (105.7km) in 1935. The track is single and un-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. Its nickname is Dragon Rail, as the route is devious like a dragon body.

The main fleet of Dragon Rail is 16.5 meter-long diesel railcar, KiHa 100-0 series, which was launched in 1990. A total of 46 units have been built over three years by Niigata Tekko and Fuji Heavy industries. They are operated as a 2-car or a 3-car train every two hours on average. The train runs without conductors on board, which means that the driver operates the train doors.

Dragon Rail has had many hardships over the past 90 years. Specifically, it was paralyzed by the 3.11 tsunami disaster following the giant earthquake in 2011. The section between Kesennuma and Sakari (43.7 km) is still closed. Instead of the train, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was operated on the destroyed railway track after the temporary repair. The new railway track is planned to be constructed on the hill to avoid any danger from a future tsunami, but the estimated cost is very high.

I hope that the injured dragon will make a strong comeback soon. Nevertheless, congratulations on the 90th anniversary of Dragon Rail!

Diesel Railcar JR East KiHa100-0 series arrives at Geibikei Station on the Oofunato Line
Official information about the diesel railcar, KiHa 100 series (in Japanese):