Friday, 20 April 2018

Classic Streetcar in Kochi City

Electric car Tosaden Kotsu 202 of the 200 series travels on the Sambashi Line

Kochi is the main city of Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island. It has grown as the castle city of the lords of Tosa Province since the early 17th century. Currently, Kochi has a population of 332,000, which is a mid-sized city in Japan.

To my joy, Kochi has a superior tram network operated by Tosaden Kotsu. They have three routes in the city. The total line length is 25.3km, which is the second largest tram network in Japan. The eclectic system is 600 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

One of my favorite streetcars is the 200 series, which was commissioned in 1950. A total of 21 units were built by Hitachi, Teikoku Sharyo and Tosaden's own factory. Although more than 60 years have passed since it debuted, 14 units are still operated as leading electric cars. They have 11 m-long short steel bodies with two 38 kW DC motors. They are old nose suspension drive cars.

The 200 series is a sister car of the Toei 6000 series, which was operated in Tokyo Metropolis from 1947 to 2001. There are only minor differences between the two models such as the positions of the front lights.

I like the 200 series, specifically car number 201 and 202. They have large air-conditioner boxes and a bow collector on the roof. These air conditioner boxes were installed later. The large central window on the front mask was also different from the original design.

Electric car Tosaden Kotsu 202 of the 200 series stands at Kochi-ekimae Stop

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

2018 Sakura Season in Yokohama: The Keikyu Line

EMU Keikyu 2100 series passes through Nokendai station

Yokohama is located southwest of Tokyo and is the main city of Kanagawa prefecture. It is the second largest city in Japan in terms of population after Tokyo. As of the year 2017, this city has an estimated population of 3.7 million. Along with Tokyo, Yokohama has many places famous for sakura (cherry) blossoms. Today, I am going to show you one of those spots in the western part of Yokohama.

Yokohama shizen-kansatsu no mori (Forest of Yokohama Nature Observation) is a large nature protection area. You can observe many precious birds there. In this season, my favorite one is Japanese nightingale, because the male beautifully sings "hoh-hokekyo" in the forest. It is so gorgeous that I often look for him, but it is very difficult to find out and shoot his photo. Instead of moving around Japanese nightingales, sakura trees are photogenic. We can see the fully bloomed sakura trees on the slope of mountains. They have light pink-colored blossoms, which show a vivid contrast with the blue sky.

To get to this precious urban forest, the nearest station is Kanazawa-Hakkei on the Keikyu line. It takes 36 minutes from Shinagawa, a subcenter of Tokyo, by rapid-express train. You can enjoy a pleasant journey boarding on Keikyu's flagship model named EMU 2100 series. It is an express train with rotating cross seats. A total of 10 sets were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

Sakura blossoms on the Keikyu line are definitely my cup of tea.

Fully bloomed sakura (cherry) trees in Forest of Yokohama Nature Observation

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Good-bye to Crayon Shinchan Train

51059F of the EMU Tobu 50050 series, Crayon Shinchan Train

The operation of Crayon Shinchan Train had been terminated during my absence taking the Tobu line. It disappeared from the track before I knew it. On August 31st, 2017, Tobu Railway conducted the last run of their special poster train named Crayon Shinchan train on their Isesaki and Nikko lines. The color design of those poster trains returned to the standard one in order. 

What is Crayon Shinchan? It is a popular TV animation series created by Usui Yoshito. The main character, Crayon Shinchan, also known as Shinchan, is a 5-year-old boy, who goes to kindergarten. The series depicts the everyday life of Shinchan with his parents, a baby sister, friends, kindergarten teachers and so on. Kasukabe City in Saitama Prefecture is the stage of this famous animation. Kasukabe is located on the Tobu-Isesaki line.

Starting from November 3rd, 2016, Tobu Railway had been operating special poster trains with a Crayon Shinchan design. They were set 51055F, 51056F, 51057F, 51058F and 51059F of the EMU 50050 series. Each 10-car train set was beautifully decorated with Crayon Shinchan characters on a yellow (51055F), blue (51056F), red (51057F), orange (51058F) and green (51059F) colored background. Tobu trains were directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro-Hanzomon line and the Tokyu-Denentoshi line; therefore, people in Tokyo Metropolis and Kanagawa Prefecture also enjoyed these unique trains in their areas.

Arigato (thank you) and sayonara (good-bye), Crayon Shinchan Train. You were the star on the Tobu line.

51056F of the EMU Tobu 50050 series, Crayon Shinchan Train