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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.

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

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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?

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Of course, Shinkansen are staged here too...

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And then it happened...

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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

16Oct/150

Century Southern Hotel, Shinjuku – August 2015

It was to be one night in Tokyo, whilst in transit from Hakone to Izu Peninsula. What's the quickest path? Probably a change at Odawara or Atami? Suuureee... but there's also an express train to Shinjuku from Hakone and an Express to Shimoda from Shinjuku. So, why not do it in luxury?

Hotels in Shinjuku aren't cheap... so you might as well make it count. Turns out that Odakyu has a hand in this hotel and this hotel has some stunning rooms! Check out the view from the Panorama room I stayed in!

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Trains, trains and more trains... Yamanote, Express lines, Chuo line and even Odakyu!

14Sep/150

Osaka – Imamiyaebisu – Nankai Rapi:t

Staying in Tennoji this time around meant that I was close to the main trunk like of the Nankai railway. The closest station was Shinimamiya which is a shared JR/Nankai station. It allows passengers to transfer from the loop line to the Nankai service. From here you can proceed north into the heart of Namba or south towards the Airport, Koyasan or Wakayama.

DSC08598Between Shinimamiya and Namba is one station: Imamiyaebisu. This station exists on the two east-most lines and is only really served by local trains. Its location provides a great view in both directions, from both ends of the platform.

The two tracks to the west are for anything other than local trains. The expresses will pass along these lines at moderate speeds. Most express services still stop at Shinimamiya, so they wont be full tilt.

The only real drawback of the area is the ability for services to block your view and the overpass just to the north providing unwanted shade. First world problems, really. There were even other photographers there when I visited.

Southbound View

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Nice sweeping curves and no issues getting full consists in the frame. Nankai has some basic liveries and a lot of stainless stock. Fortunately they like mixing it up quite a bit.

Northbound View

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Northbound is just as nice... quite a straight stretch until the final right-hand curve into Namba. And then ... the consist I was waiting for approached.

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The Nankai Rapi:t is the express train to Kansai International Airport. If you're staying in Namba, or don't have a railpass, then take this train when you arrive... it's fantastic.