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JR West Thunderbird

I just happened across an eBay auction for a "Thunderbird" 7-Car consist in JNR red/beige livery which very much looked like a JR West Raichō or Kitakinki. After digging a little deeper, it turns out that the seller actually directly translated the Kanji of 雷鳥 to "Thunder bird". This, whilst literally correct, is a mistranslation of the train name which is, of course, the Raichō.

Little did I know that the JR West Thunderbird actually steals its name from the Raichō, which means "thunder bird" in Japanese. The bird is actually the Rock Ptarmigan, a native to the Tate[yama] Mountain Range of the Toyama region (which is where the train[s] travel to.)

Interesting to know that JR West first called the Express the 'Raichō', then released a 'Super Raichō' and then created a new service to the same area with the same name, but this time in english: the 'Thunderbird'.

Going through my galleries, turns out I have more shots of the Thunderbird than I care to remember!

Thunderbird passing Suita JR Tokaido Line to Osaka (from Ogaki) Thunderbird approaching Ogaki Thunderbird heading to Osaka Height limit

Thunderbird passing Suita Thunderbird heading to Osaka Thunderbird heading to Osaka

Twilight Express EF81 104 joins (passing Thunderbird) Thunderbird coming into ShinOsaka Thunderbird enters Toyama Station

Thunderbird paused at Toyama Station Thunderbird paused at Toyama Station_001 Thunderbird Set at Shin Osaka Station

Thunderbird passing Takatsuki Thunderbird passing Takatsuki Thunderbird heading to Osaka

Thunderbird heading to Osaka Thunderbird to Toyama Thunderbird arriving at Toyama

Thunderbird leaving Toyama

The Thunderbird just happens to be one of my favourite EMUs. It's colour-scheme is a little dated, but the design and practicality (opening end-vestibules) is awesome. Not surprisingly, it also reminds me of the Dutch NS Koploper.


Model Railway Shops in Osaka

To make the guesswork easier, here's a list of terms that should help you on your never-ending-search-to-find-model-trains. To translate things, use Google Translate. To convert from Romaji, Hiragana, Katakana or Kanji use J-Talk's Kanji Converter

English Romaji Hiragana Kanji
Train resshya れっしゃ 列車
Electric Train denshya でんしゃ 電車
Steam Train kishya きしゃ 汽車
Diesel Train kidoushya きどうしゃ 気動車
Model mokei もけい 模型
Model Train mokei resshya もけい れっしゃ 模型列車
Railway Model tetsudou mokei てつどう もけい 鉄道模型
Gauge geeji ゲージ --
Shop shoppu/mise ショップ/みせ
?-Shop ?-ya ?-屋

Den Den Town, Osaka

Poppondetta (ポポンデッタ)

One of the most well-known Osaka hobby shops. A place you simply must visit. Has everything.
(Note that their Tsurumi shop is closed!)

Super Kids Land (スーパーキッズランド本店)

A large toy department store with a floor dedicated to model railways. A good selection of HO-scale too!

Hobby Land Pochi (ホビーランドぽち)

A cute little shop with a good selection of consists. Also a good bargain-bin for second-hand items. Note that they will be graded from A-D where D is quite broken!

Volks Osaka Showroom(ボークス 大阪ショールーム)

Another toy department store; you'll find the trains on level 6.


Rail Workshop Higeshin (レール工房ひげしん)

A small store on the north-west corner of Shinsekai. I walked in and couldn't communicate, but there's glass cabinets of nice stock, both N and HO. The owner is usually there building models as well. Seems to have a 'club' atmosphere with regulars often hanging around to chat to the owner.
Note that Shinsekai is a relic of Osaka, planned/built as the 'suburb of the future' back from 1903.
Address: 大阪市浪速区恵美須東1-22-1

Uehommachi (East Osaka)

Ikoma (いこま工房)

There's a good story behind this shop. I visited it in 2010 with a friend from university; her uncle actually works there. Back then the shop was south-east of Kintetsu Osakauehonmachi Station and it was a confusing walk from the station to get to it. The shop was small, full of glass cabinets and cutting boards. It had a great selection of N-scale and HO, specialising in paper kits. I remember that there were a lot of full N-scale sets, some 'custom made' and painted to prototypical awesomeness. I bought a DE10 and a set of passenger cars, beautifully detailed.

The shop has now moved here and, although I haven't been back since it moved, it seems to be a bigger and better presence with full layouts for demonstrations. It also seems a lot easier to get to!


Hobby Land Pochi (Umeda)

Haven't been to this one, but can only imagine it's just like its brother in Den Den Town.

Yodobashi Camera

Another department store... trains are on B2. I always end up going here since it's so close to Osaka Station and I can send my friends to other levels if they don't want to check out trains.

Mach mokei (マッハ模型)

This shop actually seems to be pronounced ma-ha mokei; but for some reason they've translated that to 'mach'.


H&Y Model Trains

Someone go and check this place out!


Rail Craft Awaza (レールクラフト阿波座)

Review to come....

Hanakawa (North-East)

Hobby Land Pochi (Hanakawa)

Haven't been to this one, but can only imagine it's just like its brothers.

Toyonaka (North)

Ichifuji Model Shop

Review to come....


Recycle Shop (Ryouhin Kaikan) (HobbyDo!)

I accidently stumbled across this shop. I'd bought a bike for my 4-week stay in Shinosaka and had been riding east towards Kyoto. The Tokaido main line and Shinkansen are both out that way and can be seen up quite close. Anyway, this shop is walking distance from JR Takatsuki Station, but closer to Hankyu Takatsuki-shi Station. Head due-east from either and then north-east along 国道171号線 (Japan National Route 171).
The shop has a great selection of new and second hand goods. I especially loved rummaging through the box of B-Train Shorty odds-and-ends. It seems that they had many split up boxes of B-Trains and each component is individually priced. Just remember, when you get to the counter things always add up!

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Mokei-ya (Model Shop) (もけいや松原)

From the website, this place seems to have a lot of stock. Has anyone been!?


Tamtam Hobbies

(This used to be in Amagasaki, but that closed)
庫県神戸市東灘区青木1-2-34 サンシャインワーフ神戸1F

Hobby Land Pochi (Kobe)

Haven't been to this one, but can only imagine it's just like its brothers in Den Den Town and Umeda.
2 Chome Sannomiyacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.


EMU Staging Yards, NE Takatsuki

These photos were taken back in January 2008. I'd hired a bicycle and had been dawdling along the Tokaido Main Line from Shin-osaka through to Takatsuki. I'd made it all the way to the staging yards just north-east of Takatsuki (Google Maps seems to indicate the area is known as 'Amanishinocho') before turning around to return to Osaka.

I stopped and took these shots from the pedestrian crossing visible in the map above. I can't quite believe that it isn't an overpass. I don't know if this crossing still exists today.

Towards Kyoto...

Takatsuki, looking at 3 sets of 321 Series towards Kyoto

And towards Osaka...

Takatsuki, looking towards Osaka.