Saturday, November 29, 2014

Late Autumn on the Tokyu Setagaya Line

Set number 305 of the electric car Tokyu 300 series stands at Yamashita Stop on the Setagaya Line
 
An "autumn leaves front" is going southward in Tokyo. It is also making a plunge from the high mountains to the plains. The leaves on the urban trees have turned red, yellow and brown. I enjoyed a stroll around my home.

Kitazawagawa Greenway is my favorite walking trail. It was originally a small stream, named Kitazawa River, but was covered and changed to a greenway for flood disaster prevention several years ago. Although the beautiful stream has become a culvert, trees on the river banks have been preserved just as they were.

After walking the greenway, I reached Yamashita Stop on the Tokyu Setagaya Line. I could see the beautiful bright colors of the sunset in the western heavens; meanwhile, it was a deep ultramarine color in the eastern sky. Trains backed by this ultramarine colored sky give photographers many beautiful subjects. The twilight hour is the most photogenic period for me.

I shot several trains arriving at the Yamashita stop. They were electric rail cars, 300 series. As I mentioned before, the 300 series is the only model operated on the Setagaya Line. A total of 10 sets have been manufactured so far. Each set is a different color. They are red, light blue, blue, green, yellow, orange, turquoise green, dark pink, light purple and ex-Tamaden color. This time, I am going to show you the dark pink colored tram, set number 305F, as the top photo.
 
Kitazawagawa Greenway near Yamashita Stop on the Tokyu Setagaya Line

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Musashino Line: Tokyo's Outer Ring Railway

EMU JR East 205 series arrives at Koshigaya Lake Town Station on the Musashino Line
 
Large cities in the world expand over the surrounding countryside. Tokyo, whose former name was Edo, is no exception.

Edo was a small little-known fishing village in the 15th century on the Kanto Plain. It became a castle city, when the headquarter of the Tokugawa Shogunate was opened there in 1603. Since then, Edo has been expanding for over 400 years. Currently, the population of the Tokyo metropolitan area is about 38 million, 8 million of whom commute to their offices by trains every day. With the expansion of the Tokyo metropolitan area, not only radiated railways between the urban area and the suburbs, but also ring railways to connect the suburbs have become necessary. The JR East Musashino Line is a good example of a ring railway.

The Musashino Line was opened in 1973 as Tokyo's outer ring railway. Connecting Tsurumi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Nishi-Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture, its operating length is 100.6 km. The section between Tsurumi and Fuchu-Honmachi (28.8 km) is a freight line, while the section between Fuchu-Honmachi and Nishi-Funabashi (71.8 km) is a passenger and freight line. The entire route is an elevated or underground double track with 1,067 mm-gauge. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead. The orange colored trains, the EMU 205 series and the 209-500 series are the major fleet on the line. 8-car passenger trains are operated every ten minutes on average, but it is always crowded. The Musashino Line functions as an inter-suburbs railway in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

 
EMU JR East 209-500 series arrives at Musashi-Urawa Station on the Musashino Line

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The EMU 787 Series: Kirishima Express

EMU JR Kyushu 787 series, Kirishima Express stands at Miyazaki Station on the Nippo Line
 
Following the historical places, I am going to show you a beautiful natural place in Miyazaki Prefecture today.

Kirishima is a volcanic region located on the border between Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. There are many craters, which emit volcanic gas and water vapor, in the area. Although Kirishima sometimes becomes a violent active volcano, it also has beautiful scenery such as the autumn colors of the leaves. This area was designated as one of Japan's first national parks by the government in 1934.

To get to Kirishima, JR Kyushu Nippo Main Line is convenient. It takes about 80 minutes from Miyazaki by the EMU 787 series, Kirishima Express train. The 787 series is an alternate current (AC) electric train launched in 1992. A total of 140 units have been manufactured by Hitachi and Kinki-Sharyo for eleven years. The 787 series won the 1993 Blue Ribbon Prize by Japan Railfan Club as the best train that debuted in 1992.

The most distinctive feature of this train is its outer design. The metallic body with robotic faces is very unique. It is totally different from that of the other express trains designed by ex-Japanese National Railways, for example the EMU 485 series. The gauge size of the 787 series is 1,067 mm and the electric system is 20,000 V - 60Hz AC overhead. The maximum speed is 130 km per hour.

A trip to Miyazaki is interesting all the way through.

 
Mt. Nakadake (1,332m) in the Kirishima Mountains near Kirishima-jingu Station
 
More information about the EMU 787 series (in Japanese): http://www.toretabi.jp/history/vol22/01.html