Dimboola station. This great photo was taken by my son Craig

Monday, 3 December 2018

Postcard from Japan

It all started with a I would like to go to Japan from each, myself and my wife, so we decided, go or maybe it will be never. Certainly more difficult to arrange than traveling to England or Europe, but we were helped by a Japanese friend, who helped with much of the accommodation booking. This did cause a slight problem in Kyoto, where the hotel could not find our booking, as it has been booking under our name translated into Japanese, so there was nothing under our English spelling.
Anyway, our first night was at Arima Hot Springs, a great way to recover after the flight. As this post is about trains, there is a small station at Arima, were the track disappears straight into a tunnel in the hill side.
This rail service goes to Kobe, so it is a bit more difficult to use if arriving in Osaka.
At night.
Namba Osaka
Part of Osaka metro system.

Osaka is all about shopping, or a visit to Osaka castle: unfortunately not a real one, as the originals were burnt down or bombed, bit still stunning. Next stop was Kyoto, by super rapid train.
A word of warning. We did not have a JR pass, as it was not worth it for the few train trips we took. If  booking tickets for individual rides, Japan has local services, super rapid or shinkansen. If, for say travelling from Osaka to Kyoto, the Shinkansen takes 15 minutes, the super rapid 30 minutes, but the Shinkansen will cost three times as much, and the booking clerks will automatically book you on the super express, unless you ask for the slower service.
Part of Kyoto from Kyoto Tower
Sunset over the hills.
Kyoto still has a large traditional housing area.
Minutes away from the railway station is the Nanzen-ji temple, not only free, but is the largest wooden building in the world. Incredible.

Kyoto is also the home of the national railway museum. The Kyoto Railway Museum is about a 30 minute walk from the massive Kyoto railway station. This impressive museum is based around the old JR museum, same location, with the oldest extant reinforced  concrete roundhouse in Japan, and extensive exhibition buildings. The roundhouse has twenty steam locomotives on display, plus there are four steam locos in full service, one of which runs when the museum is open. (the museum is close on Wednesdays and over the New Year holiday 30th December to January 1st. It is open every other day of the year, including our Christmas, as Japan does not have holidays for Christmas).
C61 on the left and 83class on the right.
The fourth in service, been overhauled in a pristine workshop. No number?
C62 running on the day.
The museum is very impressive, dealing with all aspects of Japans railways, including overhead, food, there is a small country station in the main hall, and every Saturday, track crew come in the museum to ,and teach children (and adults) all aspects of track work and rail safety.
Kyoto, took a local to  Arashiyama to see the Bamboo forest. There is also a tourist train here. The forest is cut in half by the local line,and the pedestrian crossing is manned every day to keep tourist safe from passing trains.
A static D51 class at Arashiyama,
Bamboo forest walk.
From Kyoto, we traveled to Himeji by super rapid, which travels along the coast, passing the Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge, which has the longest central span in the world. Himeji has one of twelve remaining real castles in Japan, and is probably the most beautiful. Can be very busy, but we arrived late afternoon, and had no wait, and climbed to the top.
From Himeji, we were going to travel on the local service to Hiroshima, but the first train change had to take two minutes! We thought this was a bit too short, if anything was to happen with us trying to find our way between train. So is was onto the Shinkansen. After buying our tickets, my wife asked how long it was going to take, and I replied, about an hour. The young man behind the counter said flatly 58minutes, and it took 58 minutes.
N700 series Shinkansen glides into Himeji Station

Hiroshima. One of a few Japanese cities that has a tramway network. Also the first city in the world to have been bombed with an an atomic weapon. visit the Peace Memorial Museum and the Victim's Memorial Museum. You learn the politics for dropping the weapon and how on the 6th of August 1945 at 815am, about 250m from the exhibition dome building, at a height of 580m the bomb detonated. It is believed approximately 80,000 people died straight away and more than 140,000 died by December 1945.
Hiroshima has trams of various vintages.
Leaving Hiroshima, we took the Super Nozomi Express, Shinkansen to Tokyo. About four hours.(These are not included in a JR pass) Using my GPS app, we averaged between 240 and 260km/h. The train was least occupied till Osaka, then it filled headed into Tokyo. Pay the extra for reserved seats, as out of 16 cars, there are only 3 unreserved. The Shinkansen (meaning, new main line) are standard gauge, where as the rest of Japan railways are narrow gauge, and are separate from each other.
Tokyo station, a massive red brick building, completed in 1914, but heavily damaged by fire bombing in 1945, so the domes were replaced with a simpler design until 2014 when they were rebuilt to their former glory. Trains access the station on four different levels.

Added a few more photos from the Kyoto Railway Museum.


  1. I love seeing the roundhouse, and preserved JNR steam. Thanks for sharing

  2. Thanks Rob.
    If in Osaka Namba. Look up Volks. A model shop seven floors. Not till you get to top floors do you find modeling supplies, models ships, aircraft, then model trains. Mainly N scale, but also some beautiful HO scale steam locos and railcar set.