Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hamakaiji and Spring Full Bloom on the Chuo Line

EMU JR East 185 series, limited express "Hamakaiji", approaches Chino Station on the Chuo Line

Chino is an inland city in Nagano Prefecture, some 200 km west of Tokyo. It is surrounded by mountains and known as the entrance of Tateshina Highland. At the end of April, this small city says goodbye to winter and says hello to spring. The flowers bloom all together, and the forest is filled with a nice fragrance.

I visited this beautiful city with my family last month taking the JR East Chuo Main Line. It took two hours by limited express train, Super-Azusa, from Shinjuku Station in the downtown Tokyo area. After getting off at Chino, we climbed up a small hill overlooking the city. I could see another limited express train, Hamakaiji, running westward on the track.

Hamakaiji debuted in 1996 as a special train operated on weekends. Connecting Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture and Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, its operating length is 232 km. It is very convenient for Yokohama citizens, since they can directly access the Chuo Main Line via the Yokohama Line bypassing Tokyo.

The vehicle for Hamakaiji is a 6-car train, the EMU 185 series. It is a 1,500 V direct current train launched in 1981 by Japanese National Railways. A total of 227 units have been manufactured so far by Nippon Sharyo, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and others. This model is also commissioned for the limited express "Odoriko" and Commuter Liner in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

I enjoyed the beautiful spring and an old train in Chino City.

A full blown cherry tree is seen beside the railway track near Chino Station on the Chuo Line

Monday, May 25, 2015

Stop and Smell the Roses on the Arakawa Line

Electric car Toei 7000 series arrives at Minowabashi Terminal on the Arakawa Line
I can't believe that it is late May already, as I feel as though I just celebrated the New Year a short while ago. It's no use making a fuss! Stop and smell the roses!

It is rose season in Tokyo. We can see the beautiful blossoms here and there. They are fully blown in public parks, private gardens, on exterior walls of private houses and unexpectedly, along the railway tracks. Arakawa Ward of Tokyo Metropolis has been working on planting roses along the track of the Toei Arakawa Line. Nowadays, local volunteer groups such as Arakawa Rose Association also join to maintain the roses along the track.

When I visited the Arakawa Line with my family last week, I saw many rose lovers admiring the blossoms. One of the reputable spots is Minowabashi Terminal. We could see fully blown red, pink, yellow and white colored roses. I think that the dark pink colored ones are named Charles de Gaulle, who was the President of France.

In the meantime, a streetcar in the photo is the Toei 7000 series. It is the Toei's longest-serving active model launched in 1954. A total of 93 units have been manufactured so far by Alna Koki and 19 units are still operated on the Arakawa Line. They have cream colored bodies with green colored stripes in general, but unit number 7001 and 7022 have so-called revival color bodies, which are dark yellow background colored with a red (7001) or a blue (7022) stripe.

Electric car Toei 7000 series leaves Minowabashi Terminal on the Arakawa

More information about streetcars on the Toei Arakawa Line (in Japanese):

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The 10th Anniversary of Tokyo Metro

The 10th anniversary sticker of Tokyo Metro Company
On April 1st, Tokyo Metro, one of the subway operators in Tokyo, celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the company. The first subway route in Tokyo was opened between Ueno and Asakusa (2.2km) in 1927 by Tokyo Chika Tetsudo (Tokyo Subway Company). This company was changed to Teito Rapid Transit Authority in 1941 due to wartime regulations. The form of business had been continued until 2004, when Tokyo Metro Company was established. 10 years have passed since then.

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary, Tokyo Metro held a children's pictures contest with a future subway theme. Among a total of 921 submissions, 6 pictures have been selected by specialists. Tokyo Metro, then, created one set of poster train on the Ginza Line using these 6 selected pictures. Recently, these masterpieces are seen on set number 51 of the 1000 series. It is composed of 6 cars, so, each car has one selected picture on the side body. The 10th anniversary memorial sticker is also seen on the front of the train body.

In the meantime, Tokyo Metro recently released a new TV commercial series, called "Find My Tokyo" using popular actress, Maki Horikita.
You can see famous historical spots in the Ueno area on the Ginza Line in the movie. They are Japan's first zoo (opened in 1882), Japan's first national museum (opened in 1872) and Japan's first public park (opened in 1873). See it.
Poster train, set number 51 of the EMU Tokyo Metro 1000 series, stands at Shibuya Station