家族でいく現代の阿房列車 Stories of "Aho" Railfan from Tokyo
鉄道は、たくさんの人たちをつないでくれる「道」だと思います。 This is a blog about railways in Japan and around the world by an enthusiast.
A charm of cycling in Japan (2): Shimanami Kaido cycling road 瀬戸内しまなみ海道

Perhaps the most attractive cycling road in Japan is 70 kilometers’ “Shimanami Kaido” from Onomichi (Hiroshima Pref, Honshu Main Island) to Imabari (Ehime Pref, Shikoku Island).


It crosses Seto Naikai Inland Sea and you will enjoy beautiful scenery and nice foods along the way. Interestingly, long bridges over the sea have automobile highway lanes as well as bicycle and pedestrian lanes separately.


This is very popular cycling route to many Japanese as well as international tourists. 
 I have been there twice, once by my own bike and once by using rental bike.


A charm of cycling in Japan (1): "Bicycle tree", Mechanical cycle parking in JR Omori station, Tokyo

I am a railfan and also love cycling very much in and outside Japan.  As a cyclist, I cannot ignore the situation of bicycle transportation in Japan and also comparison with other countries.


Today I have found a very efficient and technological bicycle parking today near my home and surprised.
This is "bicycle tree" near JR Omori station, Keihin Tohoku line. A bicycle is stored underground automatically in just 10 seconds.

This was developed by JFE steel Industry seemingly more than 10 years ago. Still to me, it looks innovative and advanced system.

In Japan, bicycles are heavily used by people and they make Japanese cities especially megalopolis Tokyo and Osaka more or less ecological without relying too much on automobiles, although they are not so organized and many problems remain.  (A photo below is bicycles parked in prohibited area of narrow sidewalk which may block pedestrians.)


イギリス、49年ぶりの廃線復活 Reopening of once abolished rail line in UK after 49 years

この路線は、1997年から保存鉄道として観光シーズンに趣味的な運行はされていましたが、The Restoring Your Railway fund という鉄道のための5億ポンド(約760億円相当)の基金を2020年1月に英政府が設け、これを用いて復活を遂げたようです。イギリスのジョンソン首相も、グリーンな交通機関として意義があるという発言をしたそうです。年明けには、1時間毎の運行が可能になるとのことです。




The pleasure of joyful train “Rokumon”, Shinano Railways 鉄道ファンの楽園・しなの鉄道の「ろくもん」に長男と乗る
I rode Rokumon from Nagano station with my son. Before riding, we take traditional style soba standing at station platform, assuming that meals which are served in Rokumon might be good quality but small amount. Later, we realized this decision was totally wrong.


Platform 7 of Nagano station was in a relaxed atmosphere. Rokumon was already there more than 30 minutes before departure time, and some travelers mainly affluent elderly couples gathered little by little. Wealth goes to the elderly, that is the general rule of seniority society of this country, I suppose. Similarly, most users of more luxurious “Shikishima” and “Mizukaze” are elderly. Although younger energetic managers may increase, I assume most of them are too busy to work and no time to take Rokumon, considering Japanese workaholic business culture.


Before doors open around 15 minutes before departure time 13:35, the female conductor did an interesting performance to play a trumpet shell in front of the train. After that, passengers are guided into Rokumon. The customer style may be some typical Japanese style relying on fixed manual and require more relax or humor if expecting too much, but overall, it was very nice.


We used a 2-persons individual room separated by Japanese traditional syoji screen made by wood and paper. Car number 3 has 10 rooms and only 20 passengers’ capacity, obviously much more relaxed than 60-70 seats of express normal coach or even 40-50 of green cars. Similar example can be found in “Saphir Odoriko” Green cars or some others in Japan.


It was too comfortable, Rokumon departed at 13:35 but we almost forget that we are in the running train. Gorgeous Japanese style cuisines were shortly delivered to us. They use meats, vegetables and mushrooms produced in Nagano prefecture. Having this lunch, my son was very happy to talk to me without staring his smartphone as usual. I belatedly thought that this is a good restaurant car. It is equipped with a small kitchen, although they do not cook main dishes, drinks and soups are at least prepared there. And we do not forget about wines and sakes, although I do not take any of them personally. Many other passengers enjoyed drinks and some are sold as souvenirs.


Rokumon crossed broad Sai River and Chukuma River bridge. Chikuma River represents Nagano prefecture and is the longest river in Japan flowing into Shinano river. About only 350 kilometers’ length but Japan is an island country.


Rokumon proceeds slower than normal trains, but it is rather a good thing to rail lovers like us, because we can enjoy longer time at a same fee, though it will sound ridiculous for “busy” practical rail users. It stops for 10 or 20 minutes at major stations like Ueda or Komoro. We can enjoy shopping or even short walking tour there. I bought fresh and cheap seasonal apples at Komoro which are now cropped in Nagano prefecture. We both considered that even 2 hours and 10 minutes’ schedule of Rokumon, less than 40 kmph average speed from Nagano to Karuizawa was too fast.


By the way, Rokumon are 3 cars and other local trains of Shinano Railways are normally 2 or 3 (maximum 6 in rush hours), but Ueda, Komoro and other stations of Shinano Railways retain the facility of old Shinetsu main line. Platform length is usually 12 cars (240 meters) which was suitable to Limited Express “Asama” between Ueno Tokyo and Nagano before 1997 Nagano (Currently Hokuriku) Shinkansen.


It was sad that watching at landscape of Mount Asama volcano, Rokumon journey ended in Karuizawa, and we dreamed that former Usui Pass line between Karuizawa and Yokokawa will revive someday and Rokumon may go direct to Takasaki. We arrived at Karuizawa station at 15:45 on time. They kindly provided us a free drink service at the nice bar of Karuizawa station. After relaxed shortly, we took a full Shinkansen to Tokyo of Sunday evening going back to reality. My son was a little tired and slept, and I felt middle “Seat B” of Shinkansen was too narrow after taking luxurious Rokumon.





Topic:Japan - Genre:Tour

Odakyu Railways (Romance cars)小田急ロマンスカーの展望車
Odakyu Railways line from Shinjuku, Tokyo to Odawara, Katase Enoshima and Karakida (Tama City) is one of interesting private railways.  I grew up near Yurigaoka station along Odakyu and had used it for nearly 20 years in young age, and my life as a railfan is strongly influenced by this railway.


Romance car limited express is a notable service by Odakyu.  It is characterized by an observation car in the front.   You can specify an observation seat by the web reservation system although it is popular and difficult to get.

They are popular and run frequently.   About 3 trains depart Shinjuku terminal every hour, so you will easily catch a romance car.


The photo below was taken in Romance car museum locating just in front of Odakyu Ebina station.  This museum preserves and presents several past notable vehicles and is worth visiting.


I begin with the history of Odakyu romance cars.  SE (Super Express) series 3000 which debuted in 1957 was a pioneering model in Japan to open the era of EMUs long distance express trains.  Its maximum speed was 110 km/h and ran from Shinjuku to Odawara in 62 minutes, and the average speed was about 80 km/h despite many curves.

Before that, Japanese long-distance trains were locomotive pulled coaches which were not so different from other countries and also slow with maximum speed of 95 km/h.  Besides, the damage of WW2 worsened the situation of Japanese railways in that era.


Odakyu SE and JNR series 151 (181) at that time changed that situation, and leaded to the technology advancement which finally resulted in 1964 high speed rail Shinkansen.  SE made a record of 145 km/h in an experiment of 1957, and JNR series 151 made 163 km/h on the same year.  It was the world fastest 1,067 mm gauge trains at that time.


The large role EMUs trains is unique in Japan.  It is due to the necessity of high accretion rate to cope with dense train schedule, frequent station interval and speed limit of sharp curves commonly seen in this country.

The history of Odakyu romance car has continued after SE until now.  After the open of Shinkansen, the competition of speed from Shinjuku to Odawara was not so important, and Odakyu put more emphasis on comfortable and pleasure train travel together with leisure development in Hakone and other touristic destinations.

More recently after 1980s, commuter also increased because residential area of Tokyo metropolis expanded, and Odakyu has cope with such demands. Passengers can avoid packed commuter trains by using romance cars.





Topic:鉄道 - Genre:Hobby

Self-Introduction 自己紹介

I was born near Nakameguro station of Tokyu Toyoko line in Tokyo. At that time, my mother (and grandmother) pushed baby buggy carrying me, and show me many trains. Trains came in front of my every 4 minutes or so including old green-type Tokyu EMUs series 5000 or so. In such environment, I was born to be a rail enthusiast (densha otaku).

(Old Tokyu Toyoko line Shibuya terminal station, switched to underground in March 2013)



After getting old, I was strongly influenced by the railway novelist Miyawaki Shunzo, and I came to have strong interests in railway timetable and writing travelogue. I even planned virtual train timetable of Odakyu line before and after ongoing four-tracking project. I lived in Yurigaoka, Kanagawa during my school ages.


I also have interest in railways worldwide, partly because of my father’s occupation relating to international affairs. Thanks to him, I had a chance to stay in Wien, Austria for a while and stimulated by the difference between railways of Europe and Japan. During my stay, I rode all the tram (Straßenbahn) network of Wien which is very dense, totally about 200 kilometers length.


After being an adult and getting a salary, my field of activities has got wider. I have an interest in traveling overall, particularly transportations not only railways but also buses, airs, roads as well as bicycle travel. Having children now, I often go to travel by rail with my sons and educate them about railways.







環境と鉄道、COP21 (10/31~英国で開催中)、欧州26か国を走破した国際夜行列車 (Connecting Europe Express)

2021年はヨーロッパ鉄道年とのことで、コネクティング・ヨーロッパ・エクスプレス(Connecting Europe Express) という特別列車が運行されました。






Riding Nightjet from Zurich to Berlin in July 2018
I rode overnight Nightjet by ÖBB from Zurich (dep. 20:00) to Berlin (arr. 7:54) in July 2018.


Zurich Hbf. has many end-loading platforms around 20 or so, which is typical in major terminal of European city but not common in Japan. It is one of the busiest stations in Europe and many kinds of trains including international express from Italy come and go.


From Zurich Hbf. I took blue coaches of Nightjet. Meanwhile, it is interesting that ÖBB Nightjet (Zurich – Berlin) does not go through Austrian territory at all.


The sleeping berth was comfortable, and I could use a room of 2 persons berth only by myself because the train was not so crowded. Nightjet does not have a restaurant car and I finished my dinner in Zurich, but next morning good breakfast was served by Nightjet staff.



In European railways, discount system of rail ticket is well developed like air fare. I bought the ticket of this Nightjet by website from Japan about two months before the boarding, and the price was 69 Euro (about 10,000 JPY) from Zurich to Berlin about 900 kilometers. I think this is good price.


If Japan in the similar case from Tokyo to Hiroshima (894 kilometers), it is 18,380 JPY and sleeping car B-berth fare will be 21,780 JPY, much more expensive.









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