In rural Japan you can escape from the frantic high-paced life in Tokyo or Yokohama, where everybody is in a hurry. The sleepy villages and towns remind us of the old Japan, in which people’s lives revolved around agriculture. We may need to add to that the decrease of the population, which makes some villages look like ghost towns.
We visited the other day such an area, located in the Ibaraki Prefecture, about 60 km north of Tokyo. The area is famous for its pottery and stores selling ceramic plates and cups could be seen all over the place. The main attraction of the town, however, is the old train which uses a steam locomotive. But that’s not a regular train – the regular ones are electrical as everywhere else in Japan. The Japanese railways operate several steam locomotive trains as tourist attractions (I think there are nine such trains on the island of Honshu, where Ibaraki is located). The train runs only Saturdays and Sundays over only about 40 km long line.The locomotive is C 11 325, built in 1944.
The obsession with photography in Japan is well known. This train is not an exception – the interest about it is high. Following the itinerary, you can see many photographers waiting for it with their tripods and high-zoom lenses next to their vans or cars, waiting to take their pictures. Once the train is gone, they hop with their equipment into the cars and drive to a new location to photograph the train in new scenery. An unpleasant side effect of being around a steam train is the soot coming from it, which eventually covers your clothes (there is no other way, since coal is the engine’s fuel).
We followed the train with a car for most of the time. At the final station, the locomotive is detached and placed on a special rotating device to change its direction.
The video below and the pictures show that trip.
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