Friday, 24 November 2017

Philosopher's Walk on the Keihan Line

EMU Keihan 2400 series stands at Sanjo Station on the Outou Line

Kyoto is known as a historical city. It was Japan's capital from 794 to 1868. There are numerous old temples and shrines, which are popular among tourists. Is that all that I understand about Kyoto? No, it isn't. This city is also known as a capital of academics. Thus, academic research is another important function of Kyoto City, and there are many famous universities such as Kyoto University and Doshisha University.

One such symbol as the capital of academics is Philosopher's Walk in the Higashiyama area. It is a walking trail on the bank of Sosui-bunsen Canal between Wakaoji Shrine and Jisyo-ji Temple. This road is so called because a famous philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, is said to have walked on this trail in meditation. Philosopher's Walk draws in many visitors specifically during the spring and autumn tourist seasons.

To visit Philisopher's Walk, the nearest station is Demachiyanagi on the Keihan Outou Line. Keihan is one of the major private railway companies in the Kansai area. The route extends to the eastern part of the Kansai area including Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka Prefectures. The track is electrified (1,500 V DC, overhead) and the gauge size is 1,435 mm.

One of the major fleets is the EMU 2400 series, which is a standard commuter train, launched in 1969. A total of 6 sets, 42 units, were built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The 2400 series is known as the first commuter train with air-conditioners in the Kansai area.

The entrance of  Philosopher's Walk near Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan-Outou Line

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Revival Colored Train on the Keikyu Line

Set 823 of the Keikyu 800 series, "revival colored train", arrives at Nokendai Station

As I introduced before, the EMU 800 series is the oldest active model on the Keikyu Line. It was commissioned in 1978 to speed up local (all-stations) trains. A total of 27 sets (3-car and 6-car trains), 132 units, were built by Tokyu Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The specification of the 800 series is rather old. The field chopper electric control system of one generation earlier is still used; however, this classic direct-current motor sound is nostalgic and attractive for me.

You can see one large light on the frontal face of the 800 series. It is similar to a Japanese specter, Hitotsume-kozo (One-eyed Goblin). It also looks like a Japanese doll, Daruma, whose outlines of the face is also painted red. Anyway, the face of the 800 series is quite unique. On November 12th, 2016, Keikyu launched a revival colored train, set 823 of the 800 series on their track. The side body of set 823 is two-tones of red and cream colors, which was returned to its original appearance in 1978. This revival colored train is photogenic, and very popular among rail-fans.

For your information, the gauge size of the Keikyu Line is 1,435 mm, which is wider than that of most railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area. To make use of this advantage, the maximum speed of the Keikyu trains is 120 km/hour, which is same as their rival, the EMU E233-3000 series on the JR East Tokaido Main Line.

Set 823 of the Keikyu 800 series, "revival colored train", arrives at Keikyu-Kamata Station

Official information about the EMU 800 series revival colored train (in Japanese):

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Autumn Scenery in Yamanashi Prefecture

EMU JR Central 373 series, limited express "Fujikawa", travels on the MInobu Line

It is late autumn in Japan. We can see beautiful autumn leaves here and there in the Tokyo metropolitan area. One day, I visited Yamanashi Prefecture with my family. Our destination was Kai-Ueno on the JR Central Minobu Line, which is located about 150 km west of Tokyo via Kofu on the JR East Chuo Main Line.

After getting off at Kai-Ueno Station, we started strolling in the countryside. We saw many ears of reed rustling in the wind. They were very beautiful backed by the autumn-colored mountains. The rice field has already changed to a gold color, and it was time of the harvest, so rice reaping machines were making a roaring sound. When we walked along the Minobu Line track in the rice field, a train passed by us. It was a 3-car train, the limited express Fujikawa, the EMU JR Central 373 series. It was shining beautifully in the autumn sunlight. The contrast between the silver-colored stainless-steel bodies and the blue sky was also fantastic. 

The Minobu Line penetrates the mountainous area along Fuji River in the central part of Japan. Connecting Kofu in Yamanashi Prefecture and Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture, the total operating length is 88.4 km. The whole route is electrified. The section between Fuji and Fujinomiya is a double track, and the other interval is a single track. The track gauge is 1067 mm, and the electric system is 1,500V DC overhead. The EMU 373 and 313 series are main fleets on the Minobu Line.

Autumn scenery near Kai-Ueno Station on the Minobu Line