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Aizuwakamatsu Roundhouse

I was just browsing around Aizu on google maps and came across the turntable in the north-west of the main yard. The roundhouse looks great from above [Google Maps Link], but the turntable itself wasn't clear...

aizu-roundhouse

What you're seeing above is a DMU being turned on the turntable as the satellite was snapping away. Interesting to know that they took quite a few shots! Here's the same thing from side-on.

DMU being turned and stored DMU being turned and stored DMU being turned and stored

DMU being turned and stored

And here's my 2009 Aizu album. Looking forward to creating a new one in 2 weeks!

Filed under: JPN No Comments
24Mar/170

Mt Fuji Live View!

So this is actually a Mt Fuji monitoring camera... probably specifically for traffic? But it also has a great view of the Tokaido Main Line between Okitsu Station and Yui Station. The main link is here and the 'close angle' view is here.

The timetable below is based on weekday services between Yui and Okitsu (and return.) I checked the weekends and the timetable seems to be exactly the same? There might be more peak-hour services during the week, so don't be sad if there's a train or two missing on weekends.

Next Trains between Yui and Okitsu (Current time in Shizuoka: )
~??:??
Northbound
~??:??
Southbound
Next Freight Train
~??:??
Northbound
~??:??
Southbound

Here's the actual camera location... or thereabouts. I've guessed it's on one of the buildings under the pin.
Click the map to go to the area on Google Maps.

Passenger Train Timetable

There's no need to write this down here, just browse over to Hyperdia and check out their running sheets. From Okitsu, it's around 3 minutes travel time to the centerpoint of the webcam view. Using the interval timetable here, you can guess when the next passenger train will be. In the other direction, it's about a 2 minute travel time, so use the reverse timetable here to work out the timings.

As for limited express passenger trains, there are the Sunrise Seto/Izumo (~midnight and ~430am) and the Wide-View Fuji services (8-10 services a day). They're all plugged in and you'll get an idea as to when they'll show up in the tables above the video feed.

Freight Train Timetable

Fortunately, there's a lot of freight to see on the tracks. Using the timestamp in the video, hang around to see the following trains! If you have any other data to add to this table, then please tell me in the comment area below.

Sightings... to be incorporated to below.
2017-03-23 - 13:37:15 - Southbound?
2017-03-24 - 08:03:35 - Southbound?
2017-03-28 - 13:37:00 - Southbound?
2017-04-04 - 14:33:05 - Southbound Toyota Long Pass Express... REALLY LATE?
2017-04-13 - 14:19:20 - Northbound? - Early 5094?
2017-04-18 - 13:36:32 - Southbound?

# Shizuoka ~Webcam From/To Comments Sighted
61 0021 0001 Tokyo - Ajikawaguchi Container
No Sundays
1067 2349 0009 Koshigaya - Kudara/Hirano Container
1069 0049 0029 Niiza - Osaka Container
1093 0106 0046 Tokyo - Nagoya Container
51 0114 0054 Tokyo - Ajikawaguchi M250 Super Rail Cargo
No Sundays
65 0120 0100 Tokyo - Kudara/Hirano Container
No Sundays
5057 0126 0106 Kuragano - Fukuoka Container
7053 0133 0113 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container
53 0058 0118 Tokyo - Suita Container
No Sundays
69 0147 0127 Tokyo - Kobe Container
No Sundays
1057 0154 0134 Kuragano - Fukuoka Container
No Sundays
55 0158 0138 Tokyo - East Fukuyama 福山レールエクスプレス
No Sundays
5081 0204 0144 Sendai - Ajikawaguchi Container
1051 0208 0148 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container
1053 0215 0155 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container
5088 0137 0157 Ajikawaguchi - Sendai Container
3095 0225 0205 Onahama - Nagoya Container
1099 0225 0205 Niiza - Nagoya Container
1059 0230 0210 Utsunomiya - Fukuoka Container
1098 0202 0222 Nagoya - Sumidagawa Container
No Sundays
2050 0207 0227 Nagoya - Morioka Container
1080 0222 0242 Osaka - Niiza Container
5096 0230 0250 Nagoya - Hachinohe Container
1092 0235 0255 Nagoya - Tokyo Container
1084 0238 0258 Osaka - Sendai Container
1066 0248 0308 Osaka - Tokyo Container
64 0301 0321 Kudara/Hirano - Tokyo Container
No Sundays
1088 0305 0325 Kudara/Hirano - Koshigaya Container
50 0321 0341 Ajikawaguchi - Tokyo M250 Super Rail Cargo
No Sundays
52 0324 0344 Suita - Tokyo Container
No Sundays
5054 0334 0354 East Mizushima - Tokyo Container
No Sundays
1096 0339 0359 Nagoya - Sapporo Container
5056 0350 0410 Fukuoka - Kuragano Container
No Sundays
60 0357 0417 Ajikawaguchi - Tokyo Container
No Sat/Pub.Hols
68 0405 0425 Kobe - Tokyo Container
No Sundays
7082 0411 0431 Kudara/Hirano - Tokyo Container
5082 0415 0435 Ube - Koshigaya Container
70 0422 0442 Niihama - Tokyo Container
5091 0459 0445 Sendai - Nagoya Container 2017-05-15 04:45:25
5062 0428 0448 East Mizushima - Tokyo Container
No Sundays
1055 0504 0449 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container
No Pub.Hols
2017-05-15 04:49:40
3074 0432 0452 Nagoya - Sapporo Container
66 0453 0513 East Fukuyama - Tokyo Container
5086 0500 0520 Kudara/Hirano - Sapporo Container
No Sundays
5085 0534 0514 Sendai - Hiroshima Container 2017-04-28 05:13:05
3071 0553 0533 Sapporo - West Hamamatsu Container
No Mondays
1071 0558 0538 Tokyo - Kagoshima Container 2017-04-28 05:38:30
5087 0607 0544 North Asahikawa - Kudara/Hirano Container
No Mondays
2017-04-20 05:44:35
2017-04-28 05:44:10
2017-05-16 05:44:32
5071 0635 0622 Sendai - Fukuoka Container 2017-04-28 06:22:20
2017-05-15 06:23:10
2017-05-16 06:22:20
2017-05-24 06:22:50
2017-05-25 06:23:20
8860 0612 0632 Suita - Koriyama Other
54 0734 0747 East Fukuyama - Tokyo 福山レールエクスプレス
No Sundays
2017-04-07 07:47:30
2017-04-18 08:51:01
2017-04-20 07:48:54
2017-04-21 08:46:46
2017-04-28 07:47:40
2017-05-11 08:48:14
2017-05-16 07:48:48
2017-05-19 07:48:15
2017-05-24 07:46:01
2017-05-25 07:47:00
1097 0903 0848 Sapporo - Nagoya Container 2017-03-28 08:48:50
2017-03-29 08:49:50
2017-03-31 08:48:45
2017-04-03 08:49:50
2017-04-04 08:47:42
2017-04-06 08:49:31
2017-04-07 08:48:55
2017-04-12 08:49:45
2017-04-18 08:50:01
2017-04-28 08:51:05
2017-05-10 08:49:05
2017-05-11 08:49:20
2017-05-15 08:48:40
2017-05-16 08:49:27
2017-05-19 08:49:15
2017-05-24 08:49:55
2017-05-25 08:49:50
8863 0920 0905 Kawasaki - Shin-Nan-Yo Other
1068 0907 0921 Shimonoseki - Tokyo Container 2017-03-28 09:21:00
2017-03-29 09:20:50
2017-04-04 09:20:48
2017-04-05 09:20:25
2017-04-06 09:20:55
2017-04-07 09:21:55
2017-04-12 09:21:55
2017-04-13 09:21:20
2017-04-18 09:22:00
2017-04-27 09:20:45
2017-04-28 09:20:35
2017-05-09 09:20:20
2017-05-10 09:25:55
2017-05-11 09:22:45
2017-05-16 09:21:10
2017-05-19 09:21:45
2017-05-24 09:31:50
2017-05-25 09:20:30
2053 0950 0935 Morioka - Nagoya Toyota Long Pass Express
No Sat/Pub.Hols
2017-03-24 09:35:30
2017-03-28 09:34:45
2017-03-29 09:35:05
2017-03-31 09:35:35
2017-04-05 09:34:45
2017-04-06 09:35:30
2017-04-12 09:35:45
2017-04-13 09:35:33
2017-04-18 09:35:03
2017-04-26 09:35:30
2017-04-27 09:35:00
2017-04-28 09:34:50
2017-05-09 09:35:14
2017-05-10 09:34:38
2017-05-11 09:35:20
2017-05-12 09:35:32
2017-05-16 09:35:20
2017-05-19 09:35:23
2017-05-24 09:35:18
2017-05-25 09:35:05
1060 0923 0938 Hiroshima - Tokyo Container 2017-03-27 09:38:05
2017-03-28 09:38:14
2017-03-29 09:38:30
2017-03-31 09:37:57
2017-04-03 09:38:25
2017-04-04 09:39:40
2017-04-05 09:38:15
2017-04-06 09:38:00
2017-04-18 09:38:30
2017-04-20 09:38:55
2017-04-21 09:37:38
2017-04-26 09:38:50
2017-04-27 09:38:20
2017-04-28 09:37:55
2017-05-09 09:38:10
2017-05-10 09:39:10
2017-05-11 09:37:39
2017-05-16 09:38:15
2017-05-19 09:39:25
2017-05-24 09:42:55
2017-05-25 09:38:20
8091 1033 1015 Tokyo - North Kyushu Rail Train 2017-04-18 10:15:30
2017-04-20 10:16:12
2017-04-28 10:15:42
2017-05-11 10:14:50
2017-05-25 10:16:15
5052 1014 1027 Fukuoka - Tokyo Container
No Sundays
2017-03-28 10:29:12
2017-03-29 10:29:00
2017-03-30 10:27:30
2017-04-05 10:27:35
2017-04-06 10:27:16
2017-04-07 10:27:30
2017-04-12 10:28:18
2017-04-13 10:29:40
2017-04-18 10:28:05
2017-04-21 10:26:59
2017-04-28 10:29:45
2017-05-10 10:28:24
2017-05-11 10:28:20
2017-05-16 10:29:50
2015-05-17 10:29:18
2015-05-19 10:28:50
2015-05-24 10:27:40
2015-05-25 10:27:44
5073 1050 1035 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container 2017-03-27 10:35:00
2017-03-28 10:35:20
2017-03-29 10:34:30
2017-03-30 10:34:50
2017-04-03 10:35:15
2017-04-04 10:34:40
2017-04-05 10:35:01
2017-04-06 10:34:45
2017-04-07 10:34:43
2017-04-12 10:34:33
2017-04-13 10:34:40
2017-04-18 10:34:54
2017-04-19 10:34:45
2017-04-21 10:35:30
2017-05-01 10:35:12
2017-05-10 10:34:38
2017-05-11 10:34:40
2017-05-17 10:34:40
2017-05-19 10:34:54
2017-05-24 10:35:05
2017-05-25 10:35:00
5094 1041 1101 Nagoya - Tokyo Container
1090 1052 1105 Niihama - Numazu Container 2017-03-24 11:05:50
2017-03-27 11:05:10
2017-03-28 11:05:45
2017-03-29 11:05:50
2017-03-31 11:05:41
2017-04-10 11:05:50
2017-04-12 11:06:20
2017-04-18 11:05:10
2017-04-19 11:05:38
2017-05-09 11:05:24
2017-05-10 11:05:59
2017-05-11 11:05:56
2017-05-17 11:05:45
2017-05-19 11:05:33
2017-05-24 11:05:20
2017-05-25 11:05:52
8090 1211 1230 North Kyushu - Tokyo Rail Train
2079 1402 1337 Numazu - Inazawa Container 2017-05-09 13:37:05
2017-05-10 13:36:37
2017-05-11 13:35:55
2017-05-12 13:36:45
2017-05-15 13:36:50
2017-05-16 13:36:44
2017-05-19 13:37:08
2017-05-24 13:37:10
2017-05-25 13:36:45
8052 1332 1345 Fukuoka - Utsunomiya Container 2017-03-23 13:45:50
2017-03-24 13:48:20
2017-03-27 13:46:10
2017-03-28 13:46:15
2017-03-29 13:46:10
2017-04-13 13:47:45
2017-04-18 13:47:44
2017-04-19 13:48:20
2017-04-21 13:46:25
2017-04-26 13:46:52
2017-04-27 13:47:40
2017-05-11 13:47:05
2017-05-12 13:48:50
2017-05-15 13:46:25
2017-05-16 13:46:40
2017-05-19 13:46:51
2017-05-24 13:49:38
2015-05-25 13:46:55
2078 1423 1438 Inazawa - Numazu Container 2017-03-24 14:38:42
2017-03-25 14:38:10
2017-03-27 14:38:20
2017-03-28 14:38:05
2017-04-07 14:38:30
2017-04-10 14:39:10
2017-04-13 14:38:28
2017-04-18 14:38:50
2017-04-19 14:38:50
2017-04-20 14:38:10
2017-04-21 14:38:02
2017-04-27 14:37:38
2017-04-28 14:38:20
2017-05-10 14:38:40
2017-05-11 14:39:05
2017-05-16 14:38:30
2017-05-19 14:38:55
2017-05-24 14:37:42
2017-05-25 14:38:20
5075 1537 1523 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container 2017-03-28 15:23:19
2017-04-03 15:23:25
2017-04-10 15:23:25
2017-04-12 15:23:50
2017-04-18 15:23:10
2017-05-10 15:23:37
2017-05-11 15:22:55
2017-05-12 15:26:40
2017-05-15 15:23:10
2017-05-19 15:23:07
2017-05-24 15:23:20
2017-05-25 15:23:33
8862 1521 1541 Shin-Nan-Yo - Kawasaki Other
3075 1611 1556 Sapporo - Nagoya Container 2017-03-28 15:56:50
2017-04-04 15:56:28
2017-04-07 15:56:31
2017-04-18 15:56:35
2017-04-19 15:57:00
2017-04-21 15:56:30
2017-04-27 15:56:15
2017-05-10 15:56:20
2017-05-11 15:56:53
2017-05-24 15:56:28
2017-05-25 15:56:15
5095 1630 1610 Tokyo - Inazawa Container 2017-03-24 16:14:00
2017-03-28 16:14:40
2052 1603 1620 Inazawa - Morioka Toyota Long Pass Express
No Sat/Pub.Hols
2017-03-24 16:20:00
2017-03-28 16:20:00
5050 1644 1704 Fukuoka - Tokyo Container
1070 1653 1713 Kumamoto - Tokyo Container
1050 1700 1720 Fukuoka - Tokyo Container 2017-03-24 17:15:00
71 1841 1825 Tokyo - Niihama Container 2017-03-29 18:25:50
2017-04-01 18:24:20
2017-04-10 18:24:26
1054 1822 1837 Nabeshima - Tokyo Container 2017-03-29 18:37:25
1072 1835 1850 Hiroshima - Sendai Container 2017-03-29 18:50:54
1091 1949 1929 Numazu - Fukuoka Container 2017-03-27 19:38:00
1052 1922 1942 Fukuoka - Koshigaya Container
5074 1931 1948 North Kyushu - Tokyo Container 2017-03-24 19:48:00
2017-03-27 19:47:40
2017-04-02 19:48:40
1058 2000 2016 Fukuoka - Utsunomiya Container 2017-03-28 20:16:10
2017-04-11 20:16:20
5053 2053 2033 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container
No Sundays
2017-03-28 20:39:20
5070 2106 2126 Fukuoka - Sendai Container 2017-03-28 21:28:22
5058 2131 2145 Okayama - Tokyo Container 2017-04-11 21:45:30
5055 2230 2210 Tokyo - Fukuoka Container
No Sundays
3070 2235 2255 West Hamamatsu - Sapporo Container
No Sundays
7085 2250 2230 Tokyo - Kudara/Hirano Container
67 2321 2301 Tokyo - East Fukuyama Container
5061 2328 2308 Chiba - Hiroshima Container
1085 2333 2313 Sendai - Osaka Container
8053 2255 2315 Utsunomiya - Hiroshima Container
1089 2345 2325 Tokyo - Osaka Container
5090 2313 2333 Nagoya - Sendai Container
2051 2317 2337 Morioka - Nagoya Container
No Sat/Sun
1061 0013 2353 Tokyo - Hiroshima Container

I hope I copied the above correctly!

Filed under: JPN No Comments
19Dec/160

Narita, Tokyo – November 2016

Thanks to Jetstar, I've been frequenting Narita International Airport lately as there is a great Melbourne to Tokyo direct flight on the Dreamliner 787. Sure, it's Jetstar, so you know what you're getting, but the red-eye timing is great on the way there and it's also not too early in the morning on the way back. Unfortunately, it seems that Qantas has seen how lucrative this leg is and will take it back early in the new year?

Getting to and from Narita Airport quickly means taking either take the JR East N'EX or Keisei Skyliner. On the way, other small towns flick by in the windows... these Limited Express trains don't bother stopping when it's not convenient.

Thanks again to Jetstar, we suffered a huge delay when returning to Melbourne. Well, actually, it wasn't Jetstar's fault. Melbourne Airport received a bad batch of aviation fuel and any plane loaded with it had to dump its tanks. Other planes waiting for fuel had nowhere to go and no fuel to receive.

Due to this, our operating aircraft was delayed. I received an email at midnight (before a midday flight the next day) telling me that my 12:50 would leave at 14:45. That's awesome when you're in Tokyo, as there's no end of stuff to do. Unfortunately, the email did not mention what time check-in was. Since the plane was suffering a 2+ hour delay, could I go to the check-in 2+ hours later? This was non-refundable-cargo-hold-style Jetstar and so I wasn't going to take that risk. I made it to the check-in desk at 10am for my 14:45 flight and the attendant happily checked in my obese bag! (Famicom + Games, MSX + Games, Model Trains, Pla-Rail, etc)

Now, thanks to Jetstar being an LCC, I was in Terminal 3 in Narita Airport with not much to do. I really like the terminal; the 'running track' is great to get people into the orderly fashion of Japan straight away and the food court is nice. But ... once through security (and they even warn you with signs stating so) there is nothing do to but sit in massage chairs.

It was 1030, the flight wasn't boarding until 1420. That was ... nearly 4 hours! Let's check out the closest town.

Narita

Yes, there is actually a town called Narita. It's located just south-west of the airport and isn't huge. The limited express trains of both companies (they have individual stations) often don't stop here. Therefore I jumped on the next Keisei local train (I no longer had a JR Pass and I wanted to test the competition) and travelled one stop.

So far, 15 minute walk to the station from Terminal 3, 2 minute ticket purchase, 5 minute wait and then 10 minute transit. We're here! McDonald's is out the front of the Keisei Narita Station. I had my last binge on delicious Japanese-style western food.

A quick walk north-east along the Keisei route saw a vista of a sweeping curve, but the elevation to take a shot from the road was too low. I intruded on a building's fire-escape and was quickly asked to move on.

It seems that, although it's a small town, I'm not the first Gaijin here and other intruders have done the same thing. If so, I'm not surprised; it would've been perfect to have the Skyliner bolting in with the sun where it was.

JR Narita Station

Oh well, time to check out JR. Wandering along any road north-west from Keisei will get you to the JR Narita Station. It's a lot larger and has a nice yard to the south. The N'EX trains come through frequently, but I was never in the right place at the right time.

DSC08908

DSC08907 DSC08909 DSC08911

DSC08912

There's a viewing deck on the far side, near the bicycle parking. After this, I circumnavigated the yard to the south-west. At the time, this seemed like a great idea. I was wrong though... it's a LONG walk and it was already hot with the sun in your face most of the way. The road also doesn't provide any vantage point to the railway below. Once you get to the south-eastern side of the tracks, you're then too elevated to get a good shot without catenary. It was still nice to check out the sleepy town though!

Keisei Narita Station

After dawdling further around, you'll start intercepting level crossings for Keisei. This doesn't happen with JR, as their tracks are all grade-separated. From the south-west, where the companies rails cross (oh crap... if I'd looked at a map then I would've gone down to check out this over/under!) you can walk up the main road between both companies. You get a good view of Keisei to the right and the odd view of JR between buildings.

Further down the road, on the right, you'll hit some level crossings.

DSC08916 DSC08917 DSC08918

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And then... if you hang for longer than 20-or-so minutes, you're bound to see the one we're all waiting for.

DSC08929

DSC08926 DSC08928 DSC08930

DSC08932

Now that I look back; waiting down at the area where JR passes over Keisei, regardless of the incorrect morning light, would've been a great opportunity. Oh well.. gives me something to go back for!

From here, it was a quick local trip back to the airport for a second and then third lunch.

DSC08935

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Is it just me or does Keisei have an Amtrak feel to their livery?

16Dec/160

N3331 Bar and Cafe, Tokyo

N3331 Bar and Cafe is located inside the mAAch ecute building in Ochanomizu, Tokyo. This is actually the old Manseibashi Train Station on the Chuo Line between Ochanomizu and Kanda Stations. Unfortunately, trains no longer stop here, so you'll need to walk from either of the stations mentioned above. You can also get here from Akihabara or the Tokyo Metro Kanda Subway Station, Shin-Ochanomizu Subway Station or Awajicho Subway Station.

The cafe actually populates the entire width of a short section of the original station platform and is therefore located right between the rails. You'll get to see a variety of local, express and limited express trains from your table.

DSC08830

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Note, it is required that you place an order prior to entering the cafe. I assume that the proprietor gets a lot of seat-warmers, rather than patrons and therefore at least wants a small amount of custom from each guest. The Kirin lager is delicious!

DSC08841

You'll also be vying for position. As you can tell, the best table is up the end where the tecchan were recording the movements. Unfortunately they therefore were my subjects as well as the trains :)

DSC08888 DSC08890 DSC08891

Sun sets early in Winter and the beer glasses were empty; so it was off to Akihabara for one last shopping expedition. Exiting the building proves how nice the renovations are.

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A short walk and you're back in the thick of it!

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Filed under: JPN No Comments
16Dec/160

Tokyo, Japan – November 2016

After a lovely t-shirt-and-shorts-weather 25 degrees in Miyazaki, it was colder in Osaka. A few days later we arrived in Tokyo to a pleasant day, somewhat similar to Osaka weather.

After failing to correctly find a good location in the Urawa area last time, I had decided this time it was time to venture onto the Musashino Line and check out the freight as they branch down from the north.

Nishi-Urawa Station

This station is located to the west of Musashi-Urawa station and forms the left leg of the triangle with the Tohoku Line. Because of this, any freight that wants to head west uses this line to bypass the city. I arrived there on a really nice pre-winter afternoon and the setting sun provided a very surreal glow on all trains approaching from the east.

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You can tell you're in the right place when there's already a row of fans blocking your first shot :)

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I saw one express passenger train, but it wasn't until now that I realised it was a school excursion! The kanji is 修学旅行.

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Next up was an EMU transfer. Totally fluked it.

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Back to Minamisenju

I'd stayed in hostels here before, but this time I chose AirBNB. The apartment was in Arakawa-ku and had an amazing view of the Joban line, right after the freight line joined from the Sumidagawa Yard.

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There was a constant barrage of passenger trains, including express trains.

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And then the odd freight train!

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Having a beer on the balcony provided a perfect end to a fun day. The weather was getting eerily cool though.

First Tokyo November Snow in 54 Years?

WTF... it was freezing. What was happening... the sunset was amazing the evening before... where'd the heat go?

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Hahaha... that is ACTUALLY snow. And the flakes are huge. It's even settled around the neighbourhood already!

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Venturing out into it saw that the trains were actually struggling. Quite a few delays and a few track faults? I always laugh when Melbourne fails in the heat but never expected Japan to be caught unawares.

Back to Nishi-Urawa, the long way...

As that I was staying right next to Minamisenju Station, and knowing that freight traversed the Musashino Line, a direct path was cut to the closest Musashino Station. This happened to be Shin-Koshigaya Station on the Tobu SkyTree Line. Initially a local train was taken, but a transfer to an express occurred halfway down the line when the delays meant that the local would take a lot longer than expected.

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The snow was simply beautiful and not getting any lighter. It was actually making it pretty hard to focus on the trains over the large flakes!

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At Shin-Koshigaya Station, lunch was had at Matsuya. Once thawed out, we entered JR Minami-Koshigaya Station and departed for Nishi-Urawa once more.

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Even in the snow, there were still avid fans taking photos.

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This shot was nearly totally blocked by the EMU. My fellow photo taker got a little excited!

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An umbrella would've been a really great idea... keeping snow off the lens was a challenge.

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From there it was off to Akihabara...

Night Time in Minamisenju

Japan is always picturesque at night, so we went for an urban crawl photographing the scenes whilst trying not to freak out the locals.

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That last shot is a bit of cool street art depicting the Arakawa Street Car line that has a terminus just around the corner.

Freight at Mikawashima Station

The next day was back to brisk but sunny weather, so we checked out the area to the west of the apartment.

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The freight line drops away from the Joban Line at Mikawashima Station and there are a few level crossings to be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, the lighting in the morning isn't good for west-bound trains.

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Arakawa Toden Line

This is a small tram line running in the inner-north of Tokyo. It's all single-car EMUs and runs light rail at the east end.

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Most of my photos are in the shade as the line runs between tall buildings most of the time. I recommend checking it out later in the day!

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Last day in Minamisenju

A final shot from the balcony in the late-morning sun provided great lighting!

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The one location I haven't mentioned yet is the Sumidagawa Freight Yard which was just east of where I was staying. I've been here before a few times and have never been disappointed. There's always something being shunted, as well as services departing and arriving. This time they have a new hybrid shunter!

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And that was a wrap.. I'll post two more articles on Tokyo. We stopped through the N3331 Cafe in Ochanomizu and also ventured into Narita town itself as Jetstar delayed our flight!

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12Dec/160

Osaka, Japan – November 2016

From Shimonoseki, a Hikari was taken to Osaka. Staying in the Shin-Osaka area meant for a bit of urban exploring around the Yodogawa precinct.

Higashi-Yodogawa Station

This is the first station to the north of Shin-Osaka station. It's only for local trains, so most pass. There's a level crossing right next to the station and the gates are down more often than not. It's the Kyoto/Tokaido Line, so you'll see a good selection of both freight and express passenger trains. There's also a recycle shop on the 'west' side of the level crossing where I happened to buy my Famicom from!

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Hankyu Depot, Kishibe

From Higashi-Yodogawa Station, you can take a local towards Kyoto and find yourself at Kishibe Station. From here, it's a short walk along the Tokaido line to see the Hankyu yards. It's a large complex and there were some interesting sights!: carriages being completely overhauled, works trains being formed and consists being stored/started in all roads. The closest Hankyu station is Shojaku.

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Closer around to Shojaku is the running line to Kyoto.. meaning it is very busy.

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Meanwhile, don't forget to keep an eye on the Tokaido line. You're right near Suita yard at this point and there's always something happening.

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I returned to Kishibe and then took a quick trip to Takatsuki. There was a recycle shop there that I'd been too years back. It has a GREAT selection of railway stock, but also famicom games. I actually found A-Train for 500yen! From Takatsuki, I took the Hankyu line to Awaji.

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I do love the green velour of those Hankyu consists!

Awaji Station

This area is being set up for a huge overhaul. Looks like everything is about to be elevated and they're building some huge concrete towers which, after being joined and completed, will form the base for the elevated line.

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The trek to the bridge is pretty straightforward. In past trips, I've used wifi dongles, but this time we all got international data sims and they work a treat. Sure, no calls or sms (so when my credit card got skimmed I had to switch the sim card back), but the data is brilliant. Following google maps made sure that I didn't get lost!

Along the way you could see the work being done on the "East Osaka Line" from Suita. They're busy double-tracking all the bridges and making a wye at the Suita end so that trains can come from Shin-Osaka and turn right.

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Yodogawa Bridge

This area has changed as well. The bridge itself used to be single track (on the right) with a pedestrian path on the left. Not so anymore...

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So they've actually ripped up the pedestrian path, layed the new track, connected it and then re-laid the track on the right.

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They still have quite a bit of tracklaying to go before the whole lot is connected. Supposedly it's taking a long time as they've had to re-acquire land that has been 'squatted' on. There's a few buildings that owners have illegally built into the old corridor!

I'd timed the trip to co-incide with a freight service. Usually I'd hang around for an hour waiting... but I had a friend with me and there was no need to waste their time also! We started walking in the direction of a final recycle shop for the day until I heard the bloody level crossing activate!

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I do love an EF-510. First time I've seen one on this line! We continued to the recycle shop ... but on the way, found something a little more interesting!

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This poor old DF50-4 has been stuffed, mounted and forgotten. I was never expecting to find this locomotive; I knew that there was an EH10 in the area, but not this DF50. I actually forgot to track down the EH10, so it was a pleasant surprise to find this locomotive!

9Dec/160

Getting from Kyoto to Otsu the long way…

I love Kyoto. I'd be happy to write a post that only said that. Usually when I'm in Kyoto, I'll either be found at the Railway Museum (actually, it's been twice now and I haven't visited it since it has been renovated!) or up at Mt. Kurama via the Eiden (Railway). This time, I was on the Eiden, but I veered right.

Demachiyanagi Station to Mount Hiei

Hiei-zan is the mountain range to the north-east of Kyoto and forms a dividing range between it and Otsu. As with all mountains in the Kyoto area, Hiei-zan has multiple shrines, multiple temples and multiple transport methods for conquering it. Fortunately, one of those is the famous Eizan Dentetsu (shortened to Eiden) which starts at Demachiyanagi station and ventures to the base of the mountain. Of course, Eiden also heads of north-west towards Mt Kurama and I recommend this trip too.

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The trip to the base of Hiei-zan is quick and you'll end up at Yasehieizanguchi station in around 20 minutes.

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The garden around the station is also picturesque! Autumn was a great time to come. Turns out I was there a week before the snow.

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The autumn colours were so very different from the colours experienced in Nichinan a few days earlier!

Hiei-zan Cablecar

After hopping off the train, we're off to the cable car. This is a standard vertical mountain climber, like the peak tram in Hong Kong. It passes the opposing car half way and offers amazing views the whole way!

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There's enough seats, but I'd recommend getting up as high as possible. It'll give you a better view out the front.

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The view out the side isn't bad either!

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At the top, the attendants will politely ask you all to get off as quickly as possible... please follow their instructions and do this!

Hiei-zan Ropeway

Are we at the top yet? Not quite. There's one more mode of transport to go! Let's just take in that view first.

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That's north-east Kyoto in the left of that picture above. The loop hanging in the foreground is a target. Buy some rocks for 100yen and throw them. Make a wish and it'll come true if your lobbed rocks make it through the middle. Anyway, back to the mountain climbing.

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You've made it! You're at the top of the mountain! How crisp is that air? It's now a short walk to the bus stop... so enjoy the scenery. Don't worry about the main building of the ropeway machinery, it's perfectly structurally sound.

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Follow the signs and you'll end up at a bus-stop/carpark/kiosk/garden-museum.

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If you head right once you're at the carpark, you'll find the toilet and a great view of Otsu city.

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Heading then to the other side of the kiosk, you'll see a nice view of Lake Biwako to the north.

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Follow the bus timetable and work out when the next one is. They're about 30mins apart. If you have time, grab a frankfurt with sauce from the kiosk. Yum!

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Notice that set of white lines on the right of the image above? That's actually where you are meant to line up! We followed the tourists in front and lined up in the wrong spot! Either way, the bus is uneventful and you're going to want to get off at the first stop.

Sakamoto Cable Car

From here, there's only one mode of transport down. You'll hear it a few times, but it's only one method because it's the longest cable car in Japan. There's even tunnels! Before that though, there's a 20min walk to get to the station. Check out Enrakuji while you're up here!

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Jump into the station and buy a ticket... but don't forget to check out the surrounds!

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There's a cool display on the second floor of the station. The stairs up are inside.

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Check out the times and line up prior to departure, you'll want a good seat!

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The view down is fantastic and mainly out the left. There are a few bits to the right too though.

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The last picture above is of the road through to JR Hiei-zan Sakamoto Station. After exiting the station, turn left and follow the road. It'll curve right and then head straight down towards Lake Biwako. The station is about 20mins down the road. (So are a few good places for lunch!)

JR Hiei-zan Sakamoto Station

This is a suburban raised station along the lake, north of Otsu. It's appropriately named as it is the closest JR station to the Sakamoto Cable Car. Some freight trains come through here, but most travel down the other side of Lake Biwako. The JR West Thunderbird express runs through this station.

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A total of around 35 minutes was spent on the platform. This saw 3 local trains (green), a freight loco hauling a diesel and a Thunderbird express.

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From here it was a quick ride home via Kyoto.

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8Dec/160

Shimonoseki, Japan – November 2016

We spent the day driving from Miyazaki to Shimonoseki, stopping through Nobeoka, Oita and Beppu. When you're on the highways, it's a very quick trip! Detouring off every so often provided great food and great recycle shops.

Evangelion Shinkansen

JR West have wrapped one of the last remaining 500 Series Shinkansens in EVA livery and it looks fantastic. It runs a Kodama service daily from Hakata to Shin Osaka. They've even gone as far as to refit the interior!

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I was so hoping they'd play the theme song when the train was approaching... no such luck. I had to settle with it being sung at karaoke instead.

Sanyo Main Line

Down under the Shinkansen tracks, the Sanyo Main Line runs from Shin-Shimonoseki through Shimonoseki itself and then under a tunnel and into Hakata via Kokura. Just before Shimonoseki Station is Hatabu and a passenger yard. Turns out they're busy chopping up their stock :(

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Fortunately, the timing was great that morning as the Shinkansen lined up nicely with a few freight services. An EF66 came through Hatabu as we were waiting.

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Here's an EMU prior to getting the chop.

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The overnighter in Shimonoseki came to a close and it was time to jump on a Hikari to Osaka.

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6Dec/160

Kyushu, Japan – November 2016

Kyushuu is renowned for it's joyful trains. I was fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of one in the south-eastern part of the island and couldn't afford to miss it. The Umisachi Yamasachi runs on the Nichinan Line from Miyazaki to Nango nearly every weekend in the later months of the year. Here is the latest timetable. The consist uses two DMUs which used to run on the (now closed) Takachiho Railway between Nobeoka and Takachiho. I was visiting a friend who works in a local monastery that happened to be right next to the line just short of Nango.

We arrived late on a Saturday and I actually saw the consist bolt past as we drove from Miyazaki Airport to Nango. It was already too dark to bother trying to get a shot of it.

Nango Town

This quaint little port town is home to a fleet of fishing vessels. It's located north of the Toi Cape, just south of Aburatsu. The shrine I was staying at happened to be located right next to the railway.

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The local Nichinan Line service operated like clockwork and shook the building when it went past. It worked perfectly as an alarm clock.

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Every now and then you got a double-DMU consist... but I failed to get a good shot of it! There was a yellow KIHA also.

Umisachi Yamasachi

This train only runs on weekends and so I only had the following Sunday to track it down. The service runs from Miyazaki to Nango and therefore was to run right past the temple. Unfortunately we had a busy day planned, so I wasn't to be in the right spot to get it. My friend actually called JR Kyushu for us to determine where the train would be staged between runs; turns out that location was Aburatsu Station. We headed there during our travels to see it.

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So... didn't get to see it running; and now that I think of it, the consist would've passed the temple 4 times! I initially thought it staged at Nango Station as there is a siding there. Either way, seeing it at Aburatsu Station was a great opportunity!

Nichinan Line Bridges

During the travels around Aburatsu and Nango, we came across some great vantage points for photos. There's a bridge in the south of Odotsu that provides a fantastic backdrop.

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And then one just north of Odotsu, but do be careful: the beach there is private property and we were politely asked to leave!

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Low-light shots

As that I had the time and the location sorted, I thought I'd grab the tripod (or other suitable mounting point) and try for long-exposure shots of the DMU passing through. Turns out I suck; but it was fun trying!

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That last one was actually at ~4:45am when the 'super moon' was up... hence the sky is also super-light.

Nobeoka

We ended up driving to Shimonoseki from Miyazaki Airport. This meant a trip through Nobeoka for lunch. The main reason was to visit as many recycle shops as possible! Either way, it timed perfectly with the daily freight that heads into Nobeoka South freight depot.

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Bad lighting... but I didn't have enough time to work out a better vantage point. The recycle shops were calling!

1Aug/160

Tokyo – July 2016

The cheapest flight to Amsterdam favoured a return leg via Tokyo. Why just transit when you can stop over for two days? I've never really spent much time in Tokyo; My university was partnered with Kansai Gaidai and so most of my friends are living in the Osaka area. Due to this, I'd googled and facebook'd a few locations of interest...

Ochanomizu Crossing

right alongside Akihabara, you'll find Ochanomizu station. This station is located on the Chuo Line, right on the banks of the Kanda River. Two JR lines and the Metro intersect here and the scenery is fantastic. I took the Metro to Shin-Ochanomizu and walked 10 minutes to the bridge. Afterwards it was a further 5 minute walk to the middle of Akihabara.

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It just so happened to be raining... but nothing was stopping me from checking out the operations. I reckon in peak hour you'll have a high chance of getting a train on each track.

Tsurumi Line

This branch line (although it has physical connections at the far end) serves multiple industries in south-western Tokyo. It actually has multiple branches in itself, with specifically-timed services.

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The Tsurumi area is nearly all industrial and houses large warehouse/manufacturing plants for Toshiba, Shell and many others. You'll be presented with sidings of oil containers and other freight areas as you make your way down the line. Each factory seems to have it's own connection to the line.

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There doesn't seem to be any coupling/uncoupling at intermediate stations, so all trains have a single destination and the passenger must stay aware of this when boarding at Tsurumi.

Tsurumi Station

Tsurumi Station provides a transfer point to-and-from the Keihin Tohoku Line. Note that the Tokaido Line does not stop at this station!

Transferring involves heading up the escalator to the the station concourse. Walking north, you'll see the Tsurumi line trains waiting at the platform as they are elevated.

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Do make sure that the train you're about to jump on goes to your target station. Due to the multiple branches, there are specific interleaved services that travel to the individual factory terminals. I jumped on the regular service that goes via Hama-Kawasaki to Ogimachi. At Hama-Kawasaki you'll find a whole lot of freight activity, so it was high on my priority list.

Hama-Kawasaki Station

This station is actually the intersection of the Nambu Line and the Tsurumi Line. There is also a main freight trunk that connects Tokyo Freight Terminal (via a series of tunnels) to the Tokaido Line.

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This station is made of two parts and passengers, when using an electronic tickets, do NOT need to touch on/off when transferring. There are specific notices to prevent this. It also seems that photographers have haunted the place for a while! That sign about being careful whilst taking pictures is not new!

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A poor little critter has been abandoned in the yard right next to the Nambu Line Platform and it seems the environment is trying to reclaim it.

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Waiting on this platform, chances are good you'll see oil trains come to and from the yards to the south. You'll also see container trains bolting through the curve and turning north to the Tokyo Freight Terminal.

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I then walked a lap of the area. There are multiple level crossings and overpasses which provide vantage points in every direction. Of note is the viaduct that runs over the top of the station. Seems to no longer be in use, but would've been handy to allow through running previously. I am assuming that the Tokaido freight connection used to be further west, instead of coming down the Nambu Line?

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During my lap, I found the following. A collection of old prints that would've been hanging in a station building or staff quarters? I was on an overpass, so could not inspect closer... there was a line-side building that had been demolished, so they could've possibly come from there. Unfortunately it looked like their fate was sealed.

Kawasakishimmachi Station

I took a Nambu Line train from Hama-Kawasaki and got off here. This station is parallel to the freight lines, but doesn't give you the best vantage point. Either way, expect to see a lot of them pass.

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Of note around the station are a bunch of cool portable storage containers. Personal, private storage that you can rent. Those pink doors in that last photo show the containers. I saw two people using them whilst I watched the freighters pass. There's also a cool underpass between the platforms; I really (and I can't explain why) love the black paint and tubular formation.

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More freighters and then a hospital train? Also the local EMUs.

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Kita-Urawa Station

I've been a member of a Facebook group for a while where Japanese locals are always posting freights from the northern-Tokyo region. All of it seems to be centered around the Urawa area. There's a triangle here where the Musashino Line joins the main north-south Tohoku Main Line.

At Kita-Urawa Station you have the local trains on your platform... but then there's six other tracks to the west that provide express access into Tokyo. You'll see a range of freight and express passenger services here. I got off at this station as I'd already seen train buffs with their cameras out. I wasn't disappointed, but the camera angles weren't what I was expecting.

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Next time I'll traverse the Musashino Line and see what else is operating.

Shimbashi Station

C11 282 is stuffed-and-mounted here. It's a nice forecourt for the station. It's also a designated smoking area! How funny... humans can puff smoke just like the old Kikkansha used to! The area is called the "SL広場 新橋駅西口広場" which translates to Shimbashi Station West Exit SL Plaza.

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As with every trip to Japan... I get that feeling that I've hardly skimmed the surface.