Subscribe via RSS

Shin-Osaka Webcam – More Randomness

I was randomly viewing the camera this morning and came across a DD51, with another in-tow, heading through Shin Osaka towards Osaka itself. Excuse the crappy quality of the video... screen-capturing live YouTube isn't fun and the sun was still rising in the land of the rising sun.

It occurred to me that there could be other webcams down near Umeda to get a better idea of where these movements end up, so I started searching. I had no luck finding anything in the middle of Osaka with a railway view, but did find something in North Kansai.

It turns out that there is a webcam facing the southern end of Toyooka Station, attached to the North Kansai IIT Media Center. The camera is even controllable? I can't imagine that this is meant to actually be publicly facing... but... it is.

So, what goes up that far north? Turns out the Konotori and Hamakaze services do! Here's the Hamakaze entering Shin Osaka Station...

hamakaze

And then, 3 hours later at 12:18 (on the dot, timetable-wise), here it is arriving at Toyooka!

hamakaze-toyooka

It then returned to Osaka at 14:26...

hama-toyooka

Now to find more webcams to stalk more trains...

23Oct/170

Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan – July 2017

I'd been to this city before, but always by railpass and therefore the Tohoku Shinkansen. My friend (Hi Keiko!) is from Aizu and, whilst going to visit her family, insisted that we travel via the Aizu Tetsudou instead of taking the quick path. We weren't disappointed!

The Path

I've plotted the paths vaguely on the map below. Option 1 is in blue and it's the standard 'fast route' via the Shinkansen and Aizu Liner. This is all JR and is totally do-able for 'free' using the JR Pass. As I'd mentioned, we'd done this many times in the past and it was time to check out the old route through the mountains and on the private railways.

The whole trip was done in two stages. First was from Asakusa to Aizu-Tajima via the Tobu Railway on the Limited Express Revaty. Second was from Aizu-Tajima through to Aizuwakamatsu on the Aizu Railway.

Asakusa to Aizu-Tajima

The Revaty is an exciting train. I have no idea where they got the name from (I lie, Wiki says: a name derived from the English words "Variety" and "Liberty"), but it looks neat and is quite new!

DSC00244

The platforms at Asakusa are curved and they get quite narrow towards the front of the train. We were also 'right on time' and had to do a bit of safe-speed-running to get to the car of the train of which we were assigned. The journey was comfortable and quick... with most passengers alighting along the way rather than at the very end. It actually turned out that the three of us, plus two (drunk) comrades, were the only passengers to go the whole way. The other two were quite entertaining, telling us about their trips to Australia and that they were just on the train as they were very interested in the new Revaty.

We passed through Tobu Nikko and saw the SL Taiju at a platform, accepting passengers on its trial runs. I'd not even thought that we'd intercept this train and wasn't ready to take photos... the timing was off anyway.

DSC00249

There was a layover at Shin-Fujiwara to allow transfer to a local train and we were afforded time to take some photos.

DSC00248

The scenery was already becoming picturesque... most of the time we were hanging out the left-hand-side windows as the sheer drop-offs down to the Kinugawa were stunning!

Aizu-Tajima Transfer

This was the end of the line for the Revaty. Here we transfered to a DMU of the Aizu Railway.

DSC00257

DSC00253 DSC00260 DSC00261

The Aizu Tetsudou runs cute little 1-or-2-car DMU sets all the way up to Aizu-Wakamatsu. It also runs a joyful train known as the Torokko Train which has open windows and heaters, but we just missed that connection.

DSC00263 DSC00264 DSC00269

DSC00272

The trip from there to Aizu felt very nostalgic and the hum of the diesel just adding more charm. The whole setup was one-man, so the driver had to receive payments at each station and confirm that everyone was utilising the service correctly.

SL Ban'etsu Monogatari

We arrived into Aizu-Wakamatsu on time, but this happened to be waaaaay too early for the SL. It was originally meant to be nice and tight, with the SL arriving a few minutes after we did... but, thanks to a country-way-of-life, the SL was running behind and arrived at a leisurely pace quite a while behind schedule.

I was only itching to take photos and therefore wasn't as disturbed as the passengers waiting on the Aizu Liner. This service will stall until the SL arrives to allow for a proper connection for transferring passengers. Again, no complaints here: The FruiTea Fukushima Joyful train was attached to the Liner, but didn't seem to be doing too much business.

DSC00274 DSC00276 DSC00279

DSC00277

The interior was quite beautiful and the staff were immaculately dressed.

DSC00281

After admiring this for a bit... the SL dawdled in...

DSC00284 DSC00288 DSC00297

DSC00299

As stunning as ever... Always looking 100x better in the flesh. Black is a really difficult colour to photograph. Thanks to a family member picking us up from the station, we had wheels and traveled a little way north to get a shot of the steamer in action.

DSC00312

A northbound DMU came through first.

DSC00308 DSC00313 DSC00315

And then the SL itself... not going overly fast!

DSC00323

DSC00318 DSC00332 DSC00336

From there, we went to a few recycle shops... and just happened to pass the station once more when I saw a random champagne-coloured EMU...

Train Suite Shikishima

This was a fluke... whilst waiting for the SL to turn up, the Shikishima rocked up to Aizu Station. We found out later that it seemed to have run into trouble just north at Kitakata, supposedly having pantograph issues? Either way, the passengers were de-trained and then re-joined the service after a quick fix in the Aizu yards...

DSC00307

Don't quote me on this though... it could all be here-say. Either way I got to see the consist!

Kitakata to Atsushio - Nitchu Line

There's very little information on this, but there used to be a line from Kitakata further north to Atsushio. Supposedly this was built 1938 and the goal was to either transfer materials to build the Hinaka Dam or build a passenger line all the way through to Imaichi. There's a little bit more information here.

You can follow the alignment from Kitakata Station through the town. To the north-west of the town they've planted Cherry Blossoms along the path and have even stuffed and mounted a C11 SL with a little Diesel behind it.

DSC00423

DSC00420 DSC00422 DSC00426

DSC00428

Driving to Atsushio was beautiful. The road nearly follows the old alignment and in most places you can see the embankment where the old line used to run. At the end, Atsushio Station has been beautifully preserved and even has more stuffed and mounted rolling stock.

DSC00429

DSC00440

DSC00430 DSC00431 DSC00432

DSC00433 DSC00434 DSC00436

DSC00435

DSC00437 DSC00438 DSC00439

DSC00441

The station is beautifully preserved and there's quite a bit of memorabilia displayed in the offices. Make sure you walk all the way around and donate if you have spare change! You can even ring the station bell and make an announcement!

Aizu City

Turns out the police know how to catch up to the locals when required. We were at the station for official business (nothing untoward) and this was sighted in the car park.

DSC00360

DSC00363

So pretty. I wonder if the owner: 1. is a police officer? 2. heads up the mountain much?

Aizu Tetsudou

Whilst there was spare time, I dawdled down to the nearby Aizu Tetsudou station from the house and checked out the local services.

DSC00482 DSC00481 DSC00480

That afternoon it was a single-car DMU bringing students home from school. They were pretty shocked to find a gaijin taking photos of their mode of transport. I just smiled and waved; they did too.

DSC00484

Minami Wakamatsu Station is a single-platform structure on a single-line area of the Aizu Tetsudou, just south of the main AizuWakamatsu Station.

DSC00494

DSC00495 DSC00496 DSC00499

Ashinomakionsen Station

A few stations south is Ashinomakionsen Station. I'd seen via google maps prior to the trip that there was a siding here with a passenger car that seemed to be used as a classroom or cafe. We happened to be driving south to Ōuchi-juku, and so I asked to stop through.

DSC00412

DSC00414 DSC00415 DSC00417 DSC00418 DSC00419

The carriage was ... well ... in a state of disrepair. The contents seemed to be aimed at school-kids, but it doesn't seem like it has been used in a while!

DSC00413

Turns out that there's two station cats here as well, but they were locked up in their cages as it was wet outside... supposedly they're not allowed to get dirty! The rain also caused the railway to stop running on that day! I was so hoping for a running shot further down the line... but there were no trains in either direction thanks to a fear of land-slides.

Tonohetsuri Station

This station was another single platform on a single-line area, tucked away in the middle of the forest. It was on a beautiful sweeping curve and would've been great for a photo! ... if only the trains were running.

DSC00375

DSC00377

And that was that for railway-oriented things in Aizu... I won't hesitate to go back again!

18Oct/170

Tokyo International Container Terminal – July, 2017

The initial plan was to get to the Tokyo City Flea Markets. Who can resist a good bargain? And I've seen photos of stalls with railway memorabilia! Unfortunately, a little bit of drizzle CANCELLED THE ENTIRE MARKET. Funnily enough, we weren't the only people disappointed; quite a few locals walked past and shared our agony when they read the 'we are closed' sign.

Anyway... I had an ulterior motive... There's a shinkansen yard and freight terminal to the east, not a 20 minute walk away, that I wanted to check out and, fortunately, my comrades obliged when they had nothing else to do in such a remote location of Tokyo!

The map above shows you a terrible walking route from the Markets (M) to the Freight/Shinkansen Yards (Y). It's around a 20 minute walk and it drizzled the whole way! Fortunately there is some tree cover on the east side of the river.

DSC00177

The yard happens to be huge and there's always a consist being built up or broken down.

DSC00172 DSC00175 DSC00176

DSC00185 DSC00194 DSC00174

DSC00181

The M250 Super Rail Cargo was sleeping in the yard... it actually looks like these units had been put in storage? They weren't looking as top-notch as the regular runners?

DSC00179 DSC00180 DSC00183

Of course, Shinkansen are staged here too...

DSC00184

And then it happened...

DSC00186

Doctor Yellow has a home here! I thought it always returned to Hamamatsu, but here it was, happily resting before its next duty! Shooting through the railings proved a challenge, but it was great to see the unit in the flesh.

DSC00189 DSC00190 DSC00192

From there it was another dreary walk back to the Monorail Station at ŌiKeibajō-Mae Station which is part of the Tokyo Monorail.

DSC00195

DSC00201

DSC00206 DSC00204 DSC00211

Note that you can see horsies from the station if you look out the windows towards the race track!

DSC00203

So, it was a sad trip thanks to a cancelled flea-market... but, all's well that ends well when Doctor Yellow makes an appearance!

18Oct/170

Shin-Osaka Webcam – Sunrise Seto/Izumo+Track Vehicles

Just for fun I installed FlashBack Express and attempted to record video from the YouTube Live stream. It's probably totally against the rules, but I really wanted to capture a tiny Shinkansen Track Vehicle that you really couldn't see in a single still.

Anyway, first up is the Sunrise Seto/Izumo. This train takes you from Tokyo to either Shikoku or Tottori. It splits at Okayama.

And then the Shinkansen Track Vehicle. I recorded this in double-time as it was really dawdling at the start. It then ends up shooting through the actual station platforms.

As mentioned... these might not be up for long... I'll delete this post if that happens.

17Oct/170

Tennoji, Osaka – July 2015

I'd forgotten to post about this, and I've been catching up lately on the 'airbnb apartments with railway views' theme... We stayed in an apartment just off Shin-Imamiya Station which had a terrific view of the platforms. It was a busy place every morning and you could see the Ltd. Express trains heading to Wakayama or Kansai Airport.

DSC08258

Of course, you also get all of the Osaka Loop Line (Kanjousen) EMUs stopping through. It's actually quite mesmerising to watch the platforms fill up and empty as each train approaches/departs. A Kuroshio service was blocked from view just as I was taking the following photos...

DSC08259 DSC08262 DSC08263

Anyway, this apartment is cheap and cheerful and happily supported 6 of us! Convenience stores are nearby. Den Den Town is nearby! Shin-Sekai is nearby! The hosts were also fantastic. Highly recommended.

17Oct/170

Akihabara, Tokyo – July 2017

Following on my thread of airbnb apartments with train views, here's a beautiful apartment in Akihabara with a good view of the Chuo Main Line and the Sobu Main Line. It's, as to be expected in Japan, a small studio-style apartment which comfortably fit 3 of us and, thanks to being in close proximity to Akihabara and some great restaurants, never left us inconvenienced!

Of course, I could stay in a pig pen, as long as the balcony had something to look at...

DSC00032

Yes, Platnium Fish Cafe (previously known as N3331 Bar and Cafe) in Maach Ecute on the old Manseibashi Train Station is just there... on that platform on the curve next to the building!

DSC00036 DSC00040 DSC00052

That's better... check that view out! Right up front is the Chuo Main Line, and up the back in amongst the buildings of Akihabara is the Sobu Main Line. I must admit though, there's a lot of standard passenger traffic over limited expresses. But then again, you do get some cool movements. We arrived on a Thursday night and the next morning ~0700 a Super Azusa consist dead-headed west and then another (or maybe the same) returned east. I didn't have my camera ready and this didn't happen on Saturday or Sunday morning! A little sad as they're slated for the recycle center once the new model comes out.

Either way, it's still a fantastic location to sit back with a few tinnies from 7/11 and you'll get enough Limited Express Shiosai or Ayame on the Sobu Main Line as well.

DSC00158 DSC00156 DSC00150

Sheesh... I need to work on my angles! I promise the track is level.

DSC00132 DSC00130 DSC00230

An Azusa consist also takes the Sobu Main Line on a single inbound AM service and outbound PM service, getting people to and from Chiba.

DSC00144 DSC00137 DSC00139

Anyway, I can only recommend this place if you need quick access to Akihabara and like trains! It's also an easy commute from Narita; just take the Skyliner to Nippori and transfer to the Yamanote Line clockwise.

12Oct/170

Virtual Train Trip – Osaka Station to Shin-Osaka Station

For those who don't know, suburban Japanese passenger trains, more often than not, have front windows of which passengers can actually see out of. This is very unheard of in Australia, as the driver's cabin is usually separated from the dangerous passengers by opaque walls.

Therefore in Japan, if you get into the front car of a passenger consist, not only can you see the driver and watch his every move.. you can see out the front of the train and watch as you drive along the tracks!

It's totally mesmerising. Of course, you can then also watch all the gauges and other instrumentation that the driver must control to keep the whole system functioning.

I hereby present a video I took by suction-cupping a GoPro to the front window inside a 223-Series EMU from Osaka to Shin-Osaka.

What you're seeing here is the view on the 'conductors' side of the cabin. When the train is running in the opposite direction, this is the area where the conductor usually works from as the doors switches and guard light controls are all on the wall. It's also a good shelf to store your work bag.

The trip starts with the curve out of Umeda, crossing the Yodogawa before quickly arriving at Shin-Osaka Station. If you want to then see the area afterwards, check out my Shin-Osaka Webcam sightings here.

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.

DSC08266 DSC08268 DSC08273

DSC08277

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

DSC08261

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.

DSC08283

DSC08279 DSC08281 DSC08289

Next up was an EMU transfer. Totally fluked it.

DSC08321 DSC08324 DSC08326

DSC08328

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.

DSC08329

DSC08332

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

DSC08356 DSC08362 DSC08339

And then the odd freight train!

DSC08390 DSC08398 DSC08409

DSC08393

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?

DSC08422

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

DSC08426 DSC08427 DSC08449

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.

DSC08475 DSC08476 DSC08481

DSC08483

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!

DSC08493 DSC08496 DSC08499

DSC08495

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.

DSC08503 DSC08508 DSC08510

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

DSC08513 DSC08519 DSC08523

DSC08526

DSC08536 DSC08543 DSC08546

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

DSC08555

DSC08562 DSC08564DSC08565

DSC08572 DSC08574DSC08576

DSC08586

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

DSC08598

DSC08599 DSC08616 DSC08619

DSC08607

DSC08625 DSC08627 DSC08630

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.

DSC08655 DSC08658 DSC08659

DSC08653 DSC08650 DSC08652

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.

DSC08676

DSC08679 DSC08680 DSC08681

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.

DSC08688 DSC08689 DSC08692

DSC08694 DSC08696 DSC08698

DSC08708

DSC08702 DSC08705 DSC08712

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.

DSC08729 DSC08734 DSC08740

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!

DSC08742

Last day in Minamisenju

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

DSC08751

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!

DSC08756 DSC08768 DSC08781

DSC08783

DSC08821 DSC08778 DSC08800

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!

28Oct/150

Buffalo E7 Kagayaki PC Mouse

On the way back from Shimoda to Tokyo, I happened upon a delight in the shopping magazines found in the a seat-pocket on the Odoriko. I'd actually already scoured Osaka and Tokyo for this delight, but all shop assistants (Yodobashi, Bic Camera, etc...) had never even seen the product.

Little did I expect to find it in, what we declare in Australia, as home-shopping dodgy magazines. But, there it was... and a friend in Japan managed to order it for me then and there on the train! It then arrived only a few days after I returned to Oz.

DSC09382 DSC09384 DSC09386

Under those delicious 'older gentleman' dark chocolate KitKats is a Buffalo USB Mouse. It's a standard form-factor with fantastic markings. Buffalo have taken the time and painted them in line with the E7 shinkansen.

DSC09393 DSC09391 DSC09392

Further than this, they've even put a serious amount of effort into the packaging.

The artwork on the outside of the box is a lightly water-coloured scene of the Shinkansen bolting somewhere north.

I love it that they've made the box out of plastic. The mouse is centrally on display, with all appendages neatly concealed in the base of the packaging.

DSC09394 DSC09396 DSC09397

Opening it felt like unfolding origami. The intricate design perfectly fit the coiled cable and documentation.

DSC09398 DSC09400 DSC09404

Once out, I found it to be smoother than I had expected. It has a very glossy finish and is slippery to the touch. Fortunately, the sides are covered in a rubber panel, which provides a nice level of grip.

DSC09405 DSC09407 DSC09408

The best part about this mouse is that the scroll wheel is legit. The wheel is clicky and can be pressed without rotating. I've used newer mouses in the past that had very light-touch wheels that even had momentum if you spun them too quickly. This wheel has the exact friction point I've been looking for.

24Oct/150

Shimoda, Izu Peninsula – August 2015

I'd never been to Japan in summer and therefore never been to the beaches. This area just west of Tokyo is stunning. The only issue at this time was a typhoon off the coast, preventing us from swimming. Fortunately we did get to get our feet wet.

JR East runs the line from Tokyo through to Izu, half way down the peninsula. From Izu, the Izukyu Corporation runs the Izukyu Railway which takes you right down to Shimoda. Fortunately, the JR (Super View) Odoriko services run on the private lines and will take you to the very end.

Odoriko Service

These are great trains, fast and efficient... clean too. If you happen to get a Super View, then the scenery is fantastic. They book out in summer though, so be quick. When booking you'll be able to choose the mountain side or ocean side. The ocean side seems popular, but the mountain side is fantstic also!

DSC08906 DSC08916DSC08918

DSC08915DSC08907 DSC08914

The beer on tap was a nice touch!

Shimoda Station

Once at the station, it's the end of the line and most passengers disappear off to seaside resorts for well-deserved getaways. I hung around for a little to soak in the view.

DSC08919 DSC08922 DSC08923

DSC08925 DSC08926 DSC08929

The corner before the approach to the station provides a nice view of an evening. As per usual, the Japanese scenery is lush and green. An easy choice to model a railway on!

DSC08937 DSC08958 DSC08965

DSC08970

DSC08975 DSC08983 DSC08998

I even happened to find an exact model of my car! This is the first functional instance I've seen in Japan. Not bad for ~30 years old.

DSC09007

Back at the station, the yard had a few interesting things to see. There was an inspection vehicle resting on tracks perpendicular to the actual line. Do they use a crane to get it on?

DSC09026 DSC09028 DSC09029

DSC09046 DSC09049 DSC09051

Not the best lighting, but most days were spent out at the beach! Still, the yard was quite picturesque with nice sized EMUs waiting for their next gig.

DSC09054 DSC09057 DSC09062

Marine Odoriko

On the last day, the plan was to ride this home. It's the Odoriko service run by the N'EX consist. Has a special headmark and all. Turns out that I got Hyperdia wrong and we turned up to find the old-school 185 series (not complaining!) to take us back... so much charm. Fortuantely, on the day before I managed to see the Marine Odoriko shunting for its next service.

The photos are of poor quality... I'd not had my camera on me. But you can just make out the 'anchor' headmark on the front.

Shimoda Train 7341 Shimoda Train 7031 Shimoda Train 7398

And that was a wrap. Great location for a beach holiday!