Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Yellow Paradise Train on the Sunzu Line

Set 1301 of the EMU Izu-Hakone Railway 1300 series travels on the Sunzu Line

I visited the Sunzu Line of Izu-Hakone Railway for the first time in four years. The Sunzu Line is a local route operated by Izu-Hakone Railway in Izu Peninsula, which is located about 120 km southwest of Tokyo. What was the news with this local railway?

It was a beautiful and sunny day. The train on the Sunzu Line was also beautiful. I found a unique yellow colored EMU (electrical multiple units) running on the track. It was set 1301 of the 1300 series from Seibu Railway. The 1300 series was originally built by Tokyu Sharyo in 1979, under the name of the EMU Seibu 101 series. Two sets, six units of the 101 series were, then, transferred to the Sunzu Line of Izu-Hakone Railway in 2008 having changed their name to the EMU 1300 series. Among the two sets of the 1300 series, set 1301 recently returned its body color to yellow, which was the original color in the Seibu era. Izu-Hakone Railway calls it the Yellow Paradise Train.

In this season, it stays fine for many days in the Tokyo metropolitan area, as the northern mountains block the wet and cold northwest wind. I could take pictures of the running Yellow Paradise Train backed by snow-capped beautiful Mt. Fuji near Daiba Station. It was the gently curved track and best position for rail photographers. It was a great success and it was worth coming all the way to the Sunzu Line.

Set 1301 of the EMU Izu-Hakone Railway 1300 series travels on the Sunzu Line

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Tokyo Night Walking: 2017 Shinjuku "Minamillumi"

Set G6+G7 of the EMU JR East 485 series, Hana (flower), stands at Shinjuku Station

Following the Shibuya Blue Cave, I am going to show you the other winter illuminations in Tokyo today.

Shinjuku is the world's largest railway station. Trains of five companies and one public corporation arrive at and leave this giant terminal. The ridership of Shinjuku is 3.5 million passengers per day. In this season, the passengers can see beautiful street illuminations, which are called Minamillumi, in the southern side of the station. This year, the trees on the street were decorated with pink colored LED lights. The street was all pink. I saw many couples, groups and families enjoying walking under the millions of lights. 

On the way back home, I found a Hana train standing at Shinjuku Station. Hana (flower) is one of the "ozashiki trains" operated by JR East. Its formal name is set G6+G7 of the EMU 485 series, which belongs to JR East Oyama Rail Yard. It is a 6-car AC-DC dual electric system train. The interior of Hana is arranged as a Japanese-type room. The floor is straw-matted with Japanese style low tables so that the passengers are relaxed taking off their shoes as if they are at home. Hana is usually operated as a chartered train to go to and from resort areas. For instance, I once came across Hana train at Ootsuki Station, which was closed to Mt. Fuji, a famous resort area in the western suburb of Tokyo.

Looking at the fantastic street illuminations and the rare ozashiki train, I enjoyed winter night walking in Shinjuku.

Street illuminations, "Minamillumi", near Shinjuku Station

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Tokyo Monorail Update: New Color of the 1000 Series

1091F of the EMU Tokyo Monorail 1000 series (new color) arrives at Shin-seibijo Station

I visited Tokyo Monorail for the first time in two years. Time really flies! When I visited there last time, the company was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Haneda Airport Line. They had just launched the new model, the EMU 10000 series.

What was the news with Tokyo Monorail this time? The company has started the renovation of the old models, namely the EMU 1000 and the 2000 series. As a result, we can see many new colored trains on the line. Please look at the photos. They are the 1000 series after renovation. You can see the white colored bodies with light green, light blue and the dark blue colored doors. The roofs are painted the same colors as the doors. It would be beautiful, if you saw them from high-rise buildings. The interior of the 1000 series was also renovated. The seat colors have been changed to the same colors as the doors. The floor has also been changed to a greyish soft color.

In the meantime, Tokyo Monorail changed their timetable on December 17th. The main point was that the standard travel time between Hamamatsucho and Haneda Airport Terminal 1 was cut by one minute (from 17 to 16 minutes) by Haneda Express train. Only one minute... but, it is important for the company, because Tokyo Monorail faces fierce competition from Keikyu Line on the airport access route from the downtown Tokyo area. As a passenger, I welcome this kind of competition, as long as safety is assured.

1043F of the EMU Tokyo Monorail 1000 series (new color) travels on the Haneda Line

Official guide of Tokyo Monorail:
Official Gallery of Tokyo Monorail (in Japanese):

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Heritage Electric Car on the Jomo Line

Electric car DeHa101 of the Jomo Electric Railway DeHa100 series

Jomo Electric Railway is a small local company in Gumma Prefecture. The company has the Jomo Line, which connects Chuo-Maebashi, the main city of the prefecture and Nishi-Kiryu, the city well known for its textile industry. The route length of the Jomo Line is 25 km. The track is single and electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 mm. The electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

Jomo has two kinds of passenger cars. One is the EMU 700 series, come from the Keio-Inokashira-Line. The other one is an electric car, DeHa101 of the DeHa100 series, which has been operated on the line since 1928. What a longevity car it is! Because of advanced age, DeHa101 usually sleeps in Oogo Rail Yard. We seldom see it, when it is running.

Celebrating the New Year, a special operation of DeHa101 was conducted on January 3rd. I rushed over to Oogo Rail Yard, and observed this classic car for the first time. The chocolate colored body with a rounded roof, three front windows and a large single front light was very cool. The trucks were classical, but looked very sturdy. They were so-called KO-type bogies with advanced coil springs built by Kawasaki-sharyo. DeHa101 left Oogo Station at 12.34, and headed to Chuo-Maebashi. I was proactive to move to the main track, and shot the running DeHa101 in the falling light. That was a great success.

DeHa101 is designated Modernization Heritage by Gumma Prefecture, and is a great prefectural asset.

Electric car DeHa101 (left) and DeHa104 (right, preserved car, not for commercial operation)

Official information about Jomo Electric Railway:
Official information about DeHa 101 (in Japanese):

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Gateway Station to the Dream World: Part 2

Concourse of Keio-Tama-Center Station

I visited Keio-Tama-Center Station for the first time in half a year. What was the news with this unique station?

Before showing the changes of the station, let's review Keio-Tama-Center Station. Keio-Tama-Center is known as the nearest station to Sanrio Puroland, which is an indoor theme park operated by Sanrio Entertainment Company. Many kids, mainly girls, visit this dream world to meet with popular mascots such as "Hello-Kitty". It is precious income for the railway company to transport passengers to and from Sanrio Puroland.

Currently, Keio-Tama-Center functions as a "welcome station" to Sanrio Puroland. For instance, station name plates and station clocks were replaced by lovely ones with Sanrio mascots. The ceiling of the station concourse was also replaced very recently by a colorful one with Sanrio mascots. I also found many Sanrio mascots on the platforms such as elevators, handrails and displays of boarding positions to trains.

For your information, Keio-Tama-Center Station was opened in 1974, when the Keio-Sagamihara Line was extended from Keio-Yomiuri-Land to Keio-Tama-Center. The station was constructed in the center of Tama New Town, which was jointly developed by the central government and the Tokyo metropolitan government to solve the increase of the population. It is located about 30 km west of Shinjuku, a giant sub-center of Tokyo Metropolis. It is about half an hour's ride from Shinjuku by limited express train.

Keio-Tama-Center keeps on evolving as a gateway station to the dream world.

Elevator of Keio-Tama-Center Station

Monday, 16 January 2017

Tobu Crayon Shinchan Train

51057F (Crayon Shinchan Train) of the EMU Tobu 50050 series travls on the Tokyu Line

Crayon Shinchan is a popular TV animation series created by Yoshito Usui. 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 a stage of this famous animation. Kasukabe is located on the Tobu Line, some 35 km north of Asakusa Terminal in Tokyo.

Starting from November 3rd, 2016, Tobu Railway operates special poster trains with a Crayon Shinchan design. The purpose of the Crayon Shinchan trains is to promote tourism to Kasukabe City. They are set 51055F, 51056F, 51057F, 51058F and 51059F of the EMU 50050 series. Each 10-car train set is beautifully decorated with Crayon Shinchan characters on a yellow (51055F), blue (51056F), red (51057F), orange (51058F) and green (51059F) colored background. Needless to say, they are very popular among boys and girls on the Tobu Line. Tobu trains are directly operated onto the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and the Tokyu Denentoshi Line; therefore, people in Tokyo Metropolis and Kanagawa Prefecture also enjoy these unique trains in their areas.

The EMU Tobu 50050 series was launched in 2006. Currently, a total of 18 sets, 180 units are operated on the track. The 50050 series is Tobu's new standard commuter train, which has the concepts of universal design, low energy consumption and maintenance-free. The 50000, the 50070, the 50090 and the 60000 series are brothers of the 50050 series.

51057F (Crayon Shinchan Train) of the EMU 50000 series stands at Tokyu-Shibuya Station

Friday, 13 January 2017

Sayonara 110: An Old Climber on Hakone Mountain

Unit 110 of the electric car MoHa 2 series travels on the Hakone Tozan Line

On July 4th, 2016, Hakone Tozan Railway made a press release, announcing that their old electric car 110 will be retired soon.

Unit 110 of the electric car MoHa 2 series was originally built by Nippon Sharyo in 1927. It had Swiss made trucks and electrical components. Its original name was electric car 10 of the Chiki 2 series. The body of this old electric car was, then, replaced by a steel one by Toyo Kouki in 1957. The car number was also changed from 10 to 110 of the electric car MoHa 2 series at that time. In 1985, the trucks and the electric motors were changed to TS-330A (Tokyu Sharyo) and TDK-8180A (Toyo Denki Seizo), respectively. As a result, the original features of electric car 10 disappeared at this point. The color design of electric car 110 was recently returned to what it was in the late 1940's, namely light blue with a yellow stripe. It stands out among the red colored standard rolling stock of the Hakone Tozan Railway.

Hakone Tozan Railway was opened in 1888 as a horse tramway. It connects Odawara and Goura with a maximum angle of 80 per-mille, which is the world's second steepest railway. Taking the Odakyu Line, it takes about 90 minutes from downtown Tokyo to Odawara, the gateway station to Hakone Mountain.

The last run of Unit 110 is planned on 12th of February, 2017. Sayonara (good-bye) and Arigatou (thank you) electric car 110, a veteran climber on Hakone Mountain.

Unit 110 of the electric car MoHa 2 series stands at Hakone-Yumoto Station

Official information about the Hakone Tozan Railway MoHa 2 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Tokyo Night Walking: Blue Cave in Shibuya

Shibuya Terminal of the Keio-Inokashira-Line

Winter is known as the season of street illuminations. Urban streets are nicely illuminated by millions of LED lights during this period. I don't know exactly what the origin of this annual event was, but it is most likely related to the Christmas lights to attract customers to shopping malls.

This winter, I visited "Blue Cave" near Shibuya Station. The zelkova trees on the street of Yoyogi Park were decorated with 5 million blue colored LED lights. Surprisingly, the blue lights looked like they were shining on the street as well. What was the reason for that? They were not lights, but the reflection of the blue lights on the zelkova trees. In this period, special reflective sheets are placed on the street so that we can see both the real lights on the trees and the reflected lights on the street. It is fantastic and exactly like the name "Blue Cave" suggests. I saw many couples and families enjoying this translunary winter event. 

To get to the Blue Cave, I took the Keio Inokashira Line and got off at Shibuya Terminal. The Inokashira Line train arrives at Shibuya Terminal just after passing through the Shibuya Tunnel. Strangely enough, the terminal is located on the second floor of the station building. What is the reason for that? It is because the topography along to the Inokashira Line is largely undulated. The maximum difference from the ground level is about 30 m. A similar situation is also seen at the Tokyo Metro Shibuya Terminal.

"Blue Cave" near Shibuya Station

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Geiko: New Year Express on the Keio Line

EMU Keio 8000 series, limited express "Geiko", arrives at Fuchu Station

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the New Year. In Japan, sunrise on New Year's Day is believed to bring luck. Lots of people travel to see hatsuhinode, and pray for a wish or a decision of that year. One of the famous hatsuhinode spots in Tokyo is Mt. Takao, which is located about 45 km west of Shinjuku, a sub-center of the metropolis.

After midnight of New Year's Day, Keio Electric Railway operates a special express train, Geiko (Greeting the Sunlight), to transport people to Mt. Takao. Geiko express has a special display on the face of the train. This year, a total of three Geiko express trains were operated. I visited Fuchu Station to shoot these express trains. Surprisingly, I saw more than 30 rail-fans waiting for Geiko express trains there, in spite of it being three o'clock in the cold morning. As it turned out, many rail-fans flocked to the other major stations on the Keio Line, such as Shinjuku, Meidaimae, Bubaigawara and Takahata-fudo. The trains, commissioned as Geiko express, were the EMU Keio 7000, 8000, 9000 series and the Toei 10-000 series. I am going to show you the photos of the 8000 series (8013F) and the 9000 series (9735F) in this blog.

In the meantime, did I go to Mt. Takao? No, I returned home directly after taking pictures of Geiko express trains, because I was extremely sleepy. I saw "the rising sun" on the display of Geiko express trains instead. Am I a lazy person?

EMU Keio 9000 series, express "Geiko", leaves Fuchu Station

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Classic Streetcar on the Manyo Line

Electric Car 7073 of the Manyo-sen De7070 series passes through Shokawa Bridge

Takaoka is a local city in Toyama Prefecture, some 400 km northwest of Tokyo. It takes about two hours and a half from Tokyo by Hokuriku Shinkansen. Along with the adjacent Toyama City, Takaoka also has a city tram route, namely the Manyo Line.

The Manyo Line is divided into two sections. The western half is called Takaoka Tram Line, which was originally operated by Toyama Chihou Railway (Toyama Regional Railway). On the other hand, the eastern half is called the Shinminatokou Line, which was originally operated by Kaetsunou Railway. These two lines were spliced as the Manyo Line in 2002 by a newly established Manyo-sen Company. The direct operation between the two sections started that year. Its total route length is 12.9 km. The track is single (partially double) and electrified. The electric system is 600 V DC overhead. The gauge size is 1,067 mm.

Manyo-sen Company has two kinds of streetcars. One is the classic De7070 series and the other is the state of the art MLRV 1000 series. The De7070 series was launched in 1967 by Kaetsunou Railway. A total of 6 units have been built by Nippon Sharyo. Its technical specifications are rather old, but five units are still operated on the track. I still remember the scene of last summer of the two-toned De7070 series slowly crossing Shokawa River in the setting sun. It was very beautiful against the blue sky and the indigo colored Sea of Japan.

Electric Car 7073 of the Manyo-sen De7070 series travels on the Manyo Line

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Tokyu 1017F: Revival Colored Train

1017F of the EMU Tokyu 1000 series arrives at Unoki Station on the Tamagawa Line

Happy New Year! The year 2017 has begun. At the opening of New Year, I am going to show you the nostalgic revival colored train on the Tokyu Line.

Revival color is the key trend in Japanese railways. Currently, many companies operate revival colored trains with previously used body colors to attract passengers, specifically, old rail-fans. Generally speaking, two kinds of models are selected for revival colored trains. One is an old model, which is returned to its original color design. The other is a relatively new model, which is changed to the company's historical color design, such as the company's initial period. The EMU Odakyu 7000 series and the Fujikyu 1000 series (ex-Keio 5000 series) are the former examples; while, Keio 8013F of the EMU 8000 series and Tokyu 1017F of the EMU 1000 series are listed as the latter examples. Let's look at Tokyu 1017F today.

1017F is a stainless-steel 3-car train built by Tokyu Sharyo in 1991. It is operated on the Ikegami and the Tamagawa lines. The original body of 1017F has an unpainted stainless-steel color (silver color) with red colored stripes. It, then, changed to the two-toned revival color of dark blue and dark yellow in March last year. This two-toned design was taken from the EMU DeHa3450 series, which were operated on the Ikegami and the Mekama (present Tamagawa) lines until 1966. I have a dim memory of the two-toned color of the DeHa3450 series. The "T.K.K. (Tokyo Kyuko Kabushiki-kaisha)" logo on the side body is also nostalgic.

I am going to introduce the revival colored trains, if there are any chances again.

T.K.K. (Tokyo Kyuko Kabushiki-kaisha) logo