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18Sep/190

Shin-Osaka Station Area – May 2019

Whilst recently staying in the area, I made it my goal to check out all corners of the railway. There's a lot to see around Shin-Osaka Station, so I'll try and document everything I stumbled across!

Staging Yards

To the west of Shin-Osaka Station, there's a large staging yard where all sorts of trains get cleaned/repaired/shunted. I started my walk around the yards from the south-east corner, as that was closest to the apartment.

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Straight up there were interesting things to be seen. The Salon Car Naniwa was stored, not to be going anywhere anytime soon, and the Twilight Express Mizukaze was being cleaned and prepared for an afternoon departure. I started my anti-clockwise walk around the yard.

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There wasn't much to be seen along the northern edge of the yard. Although you can see into the yard, under the shinkansen tracks, you can't really get much of a vantage point as the Tokaido line (for freight and non-revenue movements) runs along the ground level. On the western edge of the yard, there's a level crossing where the Tokaido Line runs out and re-connects with itself. I wonder if this part is actually called the Tokaido Line? It's the track that allows the freight trains to skip Osaka Station.

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The level crossing gives you a good fore-warning of railway events. Unfortunately, I only got to see it trigger once when a Thunderbird was dead-heading from Osaka in to the yard. The Twilight Express Mizukaze was being washed and didn't budge. I'd actually hoped it'd leave this yard via the apartment, but instead it seems to have exited on this west side, turned left at the triangle and proceeded down to Osaka Station.

I continued my lap around the yards, there's something to see over every fence... although you might have to jump!

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Freight Branch

That line I mentioned above splits off from the main line on the northern side of the actual platforms at Shin-Osaka Station. If you follow the road under the station to the west of the lines, then you'll cross the tracks. It's still a level crossing, so you'll know when something is coming.

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If you browse over to the Shin-Osaka Webcam write-up, you'll find interesting things that you can wait here for. Above is the light-engine movements that I've written about. If you see the DE10 run west at around 8am, then you'll have good chances of seeing it drag something east at around 2pm! Extra hint when there's others waiting around!

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Higashi-Yodogawa Station Area

Walking east from Shin-Osaka Station, you can do a lap of the area via the Higashi-Yodogawa Station pedestrian overpass. This station used to have a level crossing which, spanning over 10 tracks, was more-often-than-not closed.

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The station itself has received a huge upgrade, probably because of the new Higashi-Osaka Line changing the track layout quite a bit. The overpass it a bit of overkill... with REALLY LONG ramps to allow bicycles to easily be pushed over the hill.

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Walking down the southern(eastern?) side of the line, I realised I was in direct frame for the Shin-Osaka Webcam. It was dusk, so I used the flashlight on my phone to annoy the locals.

If you look really closely in the video above, I'm standing for the first 4 seconds to the left of the pedestrian underpass tunnel entrance. I'm wearing a white t-shirt and I hold my phone above my head to shine a tiny little white light for a few seconds. I then walk to the right, mid-way into the frame, to the next street corner and do the same again with my phone.

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Here's the neighbourhood in more light! Can you spot where the camera might be!?

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Shin-Osaka Station

Finally, the station itself! You'll see all sorts of services passing through here. Most stop, as it's the major connection to the Shinkansen above. Freight pass on the northern-most lines, either directly past the station (and the yard mentioned above), or through the station, past the apartment and down to Ajikawaguchi.

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With all the departure boards, you'll know exactly what's coming and going... I'm going to finish this article with a shot from 10 years ago, on the same platform, in what-feels-like another lifetime.

The Twilight Express pulls into ShinOsaka

Ahh... loco-hauled sleeper trains... I miss you.

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11Sep/190

Shin-Osaka Apartment – May 2019

It's just occurred to me that I've been visiting/staying at this apartment for well-over 10 years now. I first found it via a google search for "long stay apartments" in 2007, when I was planning my first longer-than-usual trip to Japan. The goal was to spend time away from Australia whilst switching jobs... avoiding all those funny clauses in IT contracts.

It turns out the advertisement is still online, 12 years later! Note that the TV/Video doesn't exist anymore... it was analogue terrestrial and, well, I don't think I ever turned it on for longer than 5 minutes... although... Japanese TV Commercials are pretty hilarious. Especially when you have no idea what's going on and just catch the odd (weirdly placed) English adjective. There also is no PC... but there is amazing wifi... Fiber to the wall is the bessssst.

The Location

The apartment is located 10-minutes-walk south of Shin-Osaka Station. I've also proven that it's located a 5-minute-run south! Every now and then, one might wake up late, or take too long getting ready, to realise that their Shinkansen wont wait... And so... One doth run. You also have the Nishinakajima area just south of the apartment, with it's Hankyu Station, Subway Station and host of amenities. There's even a Sega world with original arcade games!

Right near the apartment is a Lawson and a Famimart. Under the railway bridge to the west is a Coco Ichiban Curry House, Daily Yamazaki, Post Office ATM, Yayoiken, MOS Burger, etc... The list goes on! There's a real post office just north-east of the apartment and the staff are very friendly and helped me send some large boxes this time around.

The View

The apartment, unfortunately, faces to the east. Fortunately, the main stairwell (actually, and the fire-escape spiral stairwell) have great views of the main line between Shin-Osaka and Osaka Station.

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Of note, to the right are two repeater signals that you'll want to keep an eye on. Three vertical lights indicates a green signal ahead, diagonal is caution and horizontal is stop.

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They're both at stop above. This can be very handy when trying to work out if a northbound train is operating.

The video above was taken over the course of a fortnight... all services seen are described below.

What can you expect to see?

There's around 8 freight services per day, and on any day at least 75% of those will run. Some might just be loco provisioning whereas others are full services down to Ajikawaguchi. You'll also get all of the north-east Tokaido Line express passenger services. Sometimes there's also random freight movements with DD51s. Of course, the Twlight Mizukaze also passes through on some of its journeys.

So, where to start? Let's get up at 0455 in the morning! First you'll get a southbound freight train... and then the M250 Super Rail Cargo. Note that it doesn't run on Sunday morning.

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Of course, trains this early are only really visible during the summer months when the sun rises very early; thanks to Japan not using daylight savings. The next sweet spot for freight is between 11:15 and 11:55am. Three are due in this period. Sometimes they're just light engines, other times provisioning.

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Some of the shots above were also taken around 4pm, where you'll get two more freights in a half-hour window. Below, we have the odd movements, which I happened to fluke. Note that the Shin-Osaka Webcam comes in really handy here! It gives you visibility north of Shin-Osaka Station which'll give you enough time to put pants on, run outside and get your happy snaps!

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Above is a DD51 towing two Kansai Main Line DMUs southound. I assume these were going via Osaka, anti-clockwise via the Osaka Loop Line (they'd have to reverse to go clockwise), through Tennoji and then east to their depot?

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Meanwhile that HD300 got towed back and forth quite a few times!

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Plus the other express passenger services...

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And then, of course, the main event!

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Trackside - Green Pedestrian Bridge

In the shots above, you can see a green pedestrian bridge running parallel to the tracks. This is a pretty good point in the afternoon when the sun is on the right angle. Of course, the weather doesn't always have to agree... either way, I checked it out when the Mizukaze was due.

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Right before it came through, I had a trifecta of expresses!

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It's a really mean-sounding train... all-diesel so it can run along the entire 'west' coast of Japan.

The Bridges Over The Yodogawa

If you follow the main road (turn right at Family Mart) that runs parallel on the eastern side of the railway, you'll end up on the northern bank of the Yodogawa. This area happens to be a 10 minute walk, just south of the apartment, and provides a nice view of the railway lines. Before getting there though, you have to cross the Hankyu lines. There's then a pedestrian bridge over the road that also gives you a nice bit of elevation.

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From here, you then just get to stare at the JR lines...

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Of course, I was here for a good reason...

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I'll wrap up the apartment post here and post a few more articles soon about other places to visit in the area!

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6Sep/190

Katsura, Kyoto – May 2019

I made a pitstop in Katsura on my way back to ShinOsaka from the Eizan Dentetsu in north Kyoto. I'd seen from Google Maps that there was a Hankyu depot here and I wanted to check it out. I was also using Hankyu to return from Kyoto, transferring off Keihan at Gion-Shijo.

Katsura Station

This is the junction where the Kyoto and Arashiyama lines join. From the station, a short walk north will get you right next to the Katsura depot. I wandered around on-foot, to see what I could from the street.

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Straight up, no disappointments! The 4053 maintenance train was sitting right at the end of the yard, just begging to be photographed.

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The yard is perpetually busy, with trains being constantly shuffled in and out.

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I then followed the elevated Arashiyama Line to the magical land that time forgot.

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Well, to the magical land that equipment, of which time has forgotten, gets deposited!

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There were some beautiful old macintosh desktops in this branch, as well as a lot of interesting musical equipment!

Hankyu Kyo-Train

Most station platforms on the Hankyu Kyoto Line have stickers on them advertising the Hankyu Kyo-Train. I had totally forgotten about it and failed to plan it into my journey. It runs at specific times on weekends only! I did have one chance to see it though. I had just been to the Hard-Off above and was dawdling back to Katsura Station. It occurred to me that the Kyo-Train would be making its final run from Kawaramachi to Umeda as I was wandering to Katsura... and... if I ran (in the rain) I could get line-side to see it.

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Total fluke! The livery isn't too different to a standard 6000-class, but the interior is meant to be beautiful. Hankyu are always fitting a consist out like this, so I'll make sure I catch the next one, next time I'm in Japan.

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3Sep/190

Eizan Dentetsu, Kyoto – June 2019

After three weeks of gallivanting around Japan, my rail pass had run out. But thanks to some intricate planning, I'd already been to the southernmost point, westernmost point, northernmost point and easternmost point of the JR network. It was therefore time to check out places much closer to the apartment in Shin-Osaka. The following location just happens to be one of my favouries and, yes, I've been here quite a few times before.

Getting to the Eizan Railway

From Shin-Osaka, you've got a few methods to get to the north-east of Kyoto. One way could be to take any JR service to Kyoto and then transfer to either a bus or the subway. Another is to take the Midosuji Subway from Shin-Osaka or Nishinakajima-Minamigata south to Yodoyabashi Station and then Keihan straight through to Demachiyanagi Station. Finally, you can do the same with Hankyu, hopping on at Minamikata Station, transferring to a Kyoto-bound service at Ibaraki and then transferring once more to the Keihan Railway at Kawaramachi Station. This final option lets you walk across the famous bridge over the Kamo River at Gion-Shijo!

I ended up going a totally different way. I'd already checked out Demachiyanagi, and would end up there at the end of the day, so I chose to ride the subway from JR Kyoto all the way to the northern terminus at Kokusaikaikan Station and then walk over to Hachiman-Mae Station.

Hachiman-Mae Station

This is the first station on the Kurama Line after the Hieizan line splits to the east. As the name mentions, it's in front of the Hachiman Shrine, up the hill, to the north-east. I haven't ventured up to that one yet, but the photos look amazing. Meanwhile, here's Hachiman-Mae Station...

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This time the goal was to see the new maple-green Kirara, so the waiting game begun. Thanks to the frequency of the line, even on a Sunday, it didn't take long to see a service.

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The maple-orange Kirara then came northbound!

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The design of these vehicles is amazing and many awards have been won. I still haven't actually travelled at night, when the forests are lit during Autumn, because supposedly that's when the design really lends its hand to showing the passengers the beauty of the area. From the inside, you really get the idea of the view... the forest totally engulfs you.

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Whilst heading up the hill, the maple-green consist passed southbound. I must admit, I miss the maple-red. The green is quite intense... and yes, it perfectly matches maple leaves, so it's still in the grand scheme of the colouring, but...

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This was actually great timing. I'd chosen a location just south of Ninose Station and now I could approximate when this livery would pass.

Ninose Station

Yup, yup, yup... been here before... check over here for some beautiful photos in the snow. It's a station nestled in a valley with a small town right next to it. There's some beautiful galleries and cafes to enjoy, but there's also a fantastic viewpoint where the railway passes high over a river and roadway just south of the station.

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We arrived and had to wait for the southbound EMU to pass... after this, the precinct was beautifully vacant. There was the odd cicada, but the overwhelming sound was that of the water rushing south down the mountain.

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As I was waiting a random bunch of joggers were heading downhill. Did they take the train to the top first?

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From the station there are two relatively steep staircases at either end of the platform. Due to the dampness of the forest, they can be quite slippery, so do be careful.

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As you're descending, the view is fantastic.

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Actually, that logging is a bit of an eyesore... but I'm sure it'll grow back quickly. A short stroll down the road will get you to the rail bridge just south of the station.

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Finding a good angle was actually quite a challenge. I had my 18-200 "all-rounder" on, but the widest angle wasn't really wide enough... or maybe it's due to the slope of the road... or maybe I just always seem to take photos on an angle... just look at all my posts!

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The first EMU passed. It was easy to hear coming as there are quite a few curves prior to the bridge. There's also a signal which some of the following services stopped at. This one also hit its horn and seemingly came to a sharp stop, but it was out of view when it did so. Note that this is the EMU that we saw heading south from Hachiman-Mae Station above. We know that maple-green was following it southbound, so it should be next!

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There are only two stations to north past Ninose, so the maple-orange EMU I came on was the next service to pass southbound. After this had shot past, I checked out the area. Thanks to google, I knew I had around 20mins until the next pass, so I dawdled around and gandered at the gallery and tearooms just on the other side of the bridge. Much much too fancy for me, so I quickly retreated back into the shadows... no one wants to be out of position when a train is about to approach!

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Lots of overgrown old infrastructure mixed with beautiful houses. Everything is also so green!

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I seem to have been mistaken. I promised the maple-green service as the next northbound, but it turns out that there's more than one beige two-car EMU operating! Hah. Ok, it must be the next one?

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Nope, the next service was a monkey. No wonder the trains have been stopping and hitting their horns!

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Ah, OK, the green isn't such a bad match when it's buried in forest scenery. The driver had to pull right up to wait for the monkey to get out of the way. I wanted to catch this service southbound and had now seen all the liveries, so I proceeded back to the station. There is honestly something interesting to look at wherever you turn your head.

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After a bit of dawdling, maple-green arrived to take me back to Demachiyanagi.

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There was one more EMU to see on this line and I'd flukely timed it perfectly to meet it at the terminus.

Demachiyanagi Station

I'd seen drawings and then photos of this EMU, but had no idea what it really looked like. I was a little worried. Most reviewers had reported it to resemble the magic mirror from snow white, or just some other kind of ghastly portal to another universe. I think I have to agree with them... but then again, in reality it's a stunning design!

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It was timed to head up to Hiei right as I arrived, so I didn't get to check it out further.

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From here it was a quick trip to Katsura for the usual delights...

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