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Kansai by Train: Part 1

These are from my last trip several weeks ago.

After arriving at Kansai International Airport (KIX) and picking up my baggage, the train station is steps away.
Kansai Airport Station, served by Nankai Electric Railway (Airport Line) and JR West (Kansai Airport Line).

After purchasing my tickets on the rapi:t, Nankai’s special express airport service, I head for the Nankai faregates. Outside of the picture to the left, the other half of the station is for JR.

Nankai 1000 series on a local run bound for Namba, waiting at the platform.

Platform 1 sign. The station has two island platforms (four platforms total), one each for Nankai and JR.

Signage at major stations is generally moving towards four languages: Japanese, English, Korean, and Simplified Chinese.

Another train arrives on the opposite platform as I wait to board my rapi:t.

Inside my train… The Nankai special express airport service is known as the Rapi:t.

Stopped at Rinkū Town Station.

Stopped at Kishiwada Station. A six-car sub express enters the station, bound for Wakayama-shi Station (trans. Wakayama City Station).

My ticket to Nankai Namba Station costs 1,590 yen: Distance fare: 890 yen; special express fare: 500 yen; “super seat”: 200 yen.

Leaving Shin-Imamiya Station.

Approach Nankai Namba Station.

Arrival at Platform 9 of Nankai Namba Station, the terminal for the Nankai Main Line, looking back at the rapi:t. Namba Station is a major transfer station connecting Nankai Electric Railway, Ōsaka Municipal Subway, Hanshin Electric Railway, Kintetsu Corporation, and JR West trains, and is one of two key stations in Ōsaka proper’s urban rail network (the other is Ōsaka – Umeda Station).

Street shots of Namba, towards the west end…

Ōsaka Prefectural Gymnasium

Namba Parks. This is a multilevel shopping, food, and entertainment center, with attached residential and office towers. The project was built by Nankai adjacent to Namba Station and was completed in 2007. This is the top level which features a nice public garden, plenty of outdoor seating, and some nice view spots.

Swissôtel Nankai Ōsaka. Peeking in on the left is the Parks Tower, the office tower connected to Namba Parks.

Namba Grand Masters Tower under construction. This is another condominium project being built by Nankai. The Nankai Main Line actually runs on the left side of the picture.

The cranes are for the renovation of the Nankai Terminal Building.

From Namba, I board an Ōsaka Municipal Subway Midōsuji Line train, bound for Senri Chūō Station (trans. Senri Central Station) on the Kita-Ōsaka Express Line. The line is actually owned by a subsidiary of Hankyū Corporation, but is effectively an extension of the Midōsuji Line as all trains run thru-service.

Ōsaka Municipal Subway 10 series waiting at the platform. These units were introduced in 1973.

Inside the train, waiting to depart. Many of the railway cars in Kansai still use rings for their standee straps instead of triangles or semi-circles.

The little bit of empty space next to each door is welcome for standing passengers.

I take the Midōsuji Line back to Umeda Station and walk to the Umeda Sky Building, which has an open-air observatory deck on the roof. Looking southwest.

Looking south towards the rest of Umeda district.

Looking north towards the Shin-Ōsaka area.

Looking east.

Looking west.

To be continued…
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Kansai by Train: Part 2

The next day, I’m off to Kyōto, with plenty of train-watching en route. First, I take the Yotsubashi Line back to Ōsaka – Umeda Station, which connects JR West, Ōsaka Municipal Subway, Hanshin Electric Railway, and Hankyū Electric Railway.

Construction of the new JR Ōsaka Station is proceeding, taken from the southwest corner of the station area looking north. The new station will be completed in 2011.

Another construction view, from the northeast corner of the existing Ōsaka Station, looking west.

Hankyū Umeda Station

This is the terminal for Hankyū’s three main lines to Kyōto, Kōbe, and Takarazuka. There are a total of 9 tracks, each served by two platforms (one platform is for exiting the train, the other for boarding). Outside of JR, this is the largest station in Japan by number of platforms and tracks (this is considering each company as having its own station). The limited express from the Kyōto Line has just arrived at Platform 1 and discharged its passengers

Passengers disembarking from the Takarazuka Line express walk towards the station faregates.

Needless to say, Hankyū is my favorite of the private railways in Kansai. The deep red-brown livery (“Hankyū maroon”) has been in use since the company began and is a de facto trademark, along with the silver window and door frames.

A 9300 series train on a Kawaramachi-bound limited express run on the Kyōto Line. This series was manufactured by Hitachi and entered service in 2003.

Every ten minutes, a rapid service train on each of the three main lines departs Hankyū Umeda Station. The schedule is such that this happens at the same time for all lines, so that three trains depart the station at the same time. In between, various local service trains depart.
At foremost right: the Kyōto Line limited express for Kawaramachi.
At middle: the Takarazuka Line express for Takarazuka.
At left: the Kōbe Line limited express bound for Shinkaichi on the Kōbe Rapid Transit Railway.

The view from the edge of Platform 1, looking north, after the trains have disappeared.

The green seats and wood look of the interior is also a hallmark of Hankyū. It’s common to see transverse seating on Kansai area private railways, particularly on rapid services.

The view out the window at Awaji Station.

Thankfully, the Japanese have less concern about concepts like uniform height and density.

On board the train. The JR Kyōto Line and Hankyū Kyōto Line run parallel to each other for a bit and then cross. This is a JR West 321 series train.

Katsura Station on the Hankyū Kyōto Line.

A view from the station platform, facing north, showing Katsura Yard, which adjoins the station. Katsura Yard is Hankyū’s largest yard and together with Shōjaku Yard, houses the Kyōto Line fleet.

Katsura Yard, facing southwest.

At Katsura, I transfer to an Arashiyama Line train bound for Hankyū Arashiyama Station. I take one last shot of the yard, here showing a 9300 series train. The yard itself isn’t very large and is surrounded by houses (this stretch of the Hankyū Kyōto Line is bounded by houses on the west and a local road on the east).

After a short five minutes on the Arashiyama Line, I arrive at the terminus, Hankyū Arashiyama. This is the view facing southeast, showing the single track. Separate platforms are provided at stations to allow trains in opposite directions to pass.

My train, a set of refurbished 6300 series units, waits at the platform before heading back to Katsura Station. These units entered service in between 1975 and 1978 and held down express runs on the Kyōto Line. While some sets continue to run on the Kyōto Line, a small fraction were refurbished starting last year to replace 2300 series units on the Arashiyama Line and entered service in April of this year.

The view of the station building and “plaza.” Arashiyama is a popular destination among both tourists and locals looking to go on a day trip, thanks to beautiful scenery and numerous temples and shrines.

To be continued…
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Kansai by Train: Part 3

The scenery outside Hankyū Arashiyama Station…

Crossing the Katsura River…

Arashiyama’s main street.

Tenryūji Temple

I head back to the main street to reach another “Arashiyama Station,” this time for the Keifuku Electric Railroad. This is the terminus for the Arashiyama Main Line (nicknamed the Randen), a tram line operating with some exclusive right-of-way as well as mixed-traffic sections.

This tram, wrapped in an ad for a Kyōto delicacy (yatsuhashi), was built in 1929. Most trains are one car only, although during commute periods and tourist season, two cars will run coupled together.

Shijō Ōmiya Station, the eastern terminus for the Randen.

From Shijō Ōmiya Station, it’s a walk across the street to reach the entrance for Ōmiya Station on the Hankyū Kyōto Line.

While Kyōto officially only has two subway lines (the Karasuma Line and the Tōzai Line), both operated by the Kyōto Municipal Transportation Bureau, both Hankyū Railway and Keihan Electric Railway run underground through central Kyōto. The Hankyū Kyōto Line is underground for about 4.5 km (four stations: Saiin, Ōmiya, Karasuma, and Kawaramachi) under Shijō-dōri. The section between Saiin and Ōmiya was built in 1931 and is the oldest section of underground rail in the Kansai area.

Here, a limited express service on the Hankyū Kyōto Line passes Ōmiya Station (all other services stop at the station).

Two stops away and we arrive at the Kyōto Line terminal, Kawaramachi. After discharging passengers, the train is awaiting departure, bound for Hankyū Umeda Station back in Ōsaka.

Kawaramachi is Kyōto’s main shopping district, although it’s a little touristy owing to all the visitors who come to the city.

I happened upon this parade for two rival private universities in Kyōto, Ritsumeikan University and Dōshisha University.

The Kamo River runs through central Kyōto, with Kawaramachi on the west bank.

From here, it’s back to Ōsaka… To be continued…
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Enjoyed this thread so much, thanks!!
Gotta love Japan's crazy railway system. Nice pictures indeed! Thank you for sharing. :)
Amazing and very nice photos @quashlo, thanks for sharing
Kansai by Train: Part 4

On the other side of the Kamo River, we arrive at Keihan Sanjō Station. The Keihan Main Line / Ōtō Line is underground for close to 5.0 km (six stations: Shichijō, Kiyomizu Gojō, Gion Shijō, Sanjō, Jingū Marutamachi, and Demachiyanagi) under Kawabata-dōri on the east bank of the Kamo River. Originally at-grade, the Keihan Main Line section through central Kyōto was undergrounded in 1987.

With the opening of the Keihan Nakanoshima Line in October of last year, Gojō, Shijō, and Marutamachi Stations were renamed—partly as publicity and partly to make it easier on visitors—as Kiyomizu Gojō, Gion Shijō, and Jingū Marutamachi. The new names borrow from familiar Kyōto landmarks such as Kiyomizu-dera and Heian Jingū.

Central Exit. The station is also connected by underground passageway to the Tōzai Line’s Sanjō Keihan Station.

As I wait on Platform 3 (for Ōsaka), a 2200 series sub-express train waits for departure at Platform 2, bound for Demachiyanagi on the Ōtō Line. The Ōtō Line is effectively an extension of the Keihan Main Line, running 2.3 km north past Sanjō to Demachiyanagi, and all trains run thru-service. The 2200 series was initially introduced in 1964, but here shows a new paint scheme recently introduced to coincide with the opening of the Nakanoshima Line.

Another 2200 series sub-express train arrives on Platform 4, in the traditional two-tone green, bound for Yodoyabashi, the Keihan Main Line’s Ōsaka terminal.

An 8000 series limited express pulls up to Platform 3. These sets were introduced in 1989, and received an upgrade in 1998 when one car in each consist was replaced with a bi-level car.

Inside my train, an ad for the upcoming Aoi Matsuri in Kyōto.

On board the train, passing Yodo Car Yard.

Crossing the Uji River...

Hirakata City... The ferris wheel is part of Hirakata Park, an amusement park operated by the railway.

A snapshot of Neyagawa Yard, Keihan’s largest facility.

Approaching central Ōsaka...

Entering Kyōbashi Station. We are actually two levels above ground level, as the station below us is an elevated station for the JR Ōsaka Loop Line. Below that is the ground-level station for the JR Katamachi (Gakken Toshi) Line and Tōzai Line. Below ground is the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Nagahori - Tsurumi Ryokuchi Line. Kyōbashi is one of the more important stations in Ōsaka, serving Ōsaka Business Park (OBP) shown in the background.

Leaving OBP...

Train interior.

The Nakanoshima Line is a branch line off the Keihan Main Line in central Ōsaka that opened in October 2008. The line is a mere 3.0 km long, running between Tenmabashi Station on the Main Line and Nakanoshima Station.

At Nakanoshima Station, a semi-express bound for Kuzuha waits for departure. All trains run as locals on the Nakanoshima Line.

My train, a second-generation 3000 series train, introduced in 2008 specifically for rapid express services on the Nakanoshima Line. These sets were manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

The train (along with the new line) marks somewhat of an image rebranding for Keihan, as it looks completely different from their older trains.

Timetable inside the station. As a branch line, base service on the Nakanoshima Line is 8 tph weekdays, 6 tph weekends. During the morning peak hour, there are 14 tph. All trains run through onto the Main Line. Yodoyabashi Station, the Main Line terminal, has a much more rigorous schedule, with a base service of 16 tph weekdays and weekends, and 24 tph during the morning peak hour.

Departure board on the platform.

The ticketing machines.

Walking to the exit.

One of the entrances to Nakanoshima Station. The ample use of wood throughout the station is a welcome and elegant touch.

Nakanoshima (on the right) is actually a long, narrow island in central Ōsaka, sandwiched by water on two sides. It is one of the city's prime business districts and is continuing to undergo redevelopment. The new rail line, which traverses the full length of the island along its north shore, is partially intended to help this process along.

One of the entrances to the Convention Center.

To be continued...
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wahhh i enjoyed this thread soo much..i really miss japan...:)
Great series & shots, especially those from the trains are awesome.
Hankyu - the best train company on earth (I used its lines everyday when I was a kid).
Kansai by Train: Part 5

I headed back down to the platforms and got back on a train to explore some of the other stations on the Nakanoshima Line. This is at Ōebashi Station.

The “wave” design of the handrail is easier to use, especially for elderly and disabled passengers. “Barrier-free” and “universal design” are big buzzwords in the design of public facilities.

While Japanese railways are not traditionally known for aesthetic station designs, the newest batch of stations definitely exudes subdued refinement.

Station entrance. Although not connected by underground passages, Ōebashi Station and Yodoyabashi Station on the Ōsaka Municipal Subway Midōsuji Line are five-minutes walking distance apart.

Ōsaka City Hall is across the street. We are actually still on Nakanoshima Island. The street running from left to right is Midōsuji.

To the right is Nakanoshima Island, to the left is the southern half of Ōsaka.

The sign to the right encourages people not to park their bicycles on the path. Illegal bike parking is a sensitive issue, as bikes are very popular as a means of transportation. There are cases where local roadways are effectively blocked because of illegally parked bikes, hindering emergency vehicles.

Bank of Japan, Ōsaka Branch (1903)

Crossing Yodoyabashi.

I head down to the subway platforms at Yodoyabashi Station and catch a Midōsuji Line train to Namba. I enter what is now called Ōsaka Namba Station (formerly Kintetsu Namba Station), following the opening of the Hanshin Namba Line in March of this year. It's now possible to get from Sannomiya in Kōbe to Kintetsu Nara in Nara—a distance of 65 km—on one train. With the new through-service, both Hanshin and Kintetsu trains stop at this station, so the name was changed to "Ōsaka Namba Station." The sign shows destinations on the Hanshin Line such as Amagasaki and Sannomiya which weren't previously accessible from this station.

Kintetsu is actually the largest private railway in Japan by track length, and its network stretches from Kansai (Ōsaka, Kyōto, and Nara) all the way to Chūbu (Nagoya). Although they're substantially slower, Kintetsu's special express trains on the Ōsaka - Nagoya route compete with the Tōkaidō Shinkansen. On the opposite side of the far-side platform, a Kintetsu Urbanliner special express waits for departure.

New station sign. The direction towards the right is the new Hanshin Namba Line.

A Hanshin 9000 series train waits at the platform, on a rapid express run bound for Kintetsu Nara.

A Kintetsu express train discharges its passengers.

My next destination is Kōbe, so I get on a Sannomiya-bound rapid express.
This is in Kōbe, inside santica, an underground retail arcade attached to Sannomiya Station.

From here, I catch a Kōbe Municipal Subway Seishin - Yamate Line train to get to Shin-Kōbe. This is the platform at Sannomiya.

My train waits at Shin-Kōbe Station before heading back to Seishin Chūō. These retro 1000 series trains entered service in 1977.

On the surface.

Art Center Kōbe (2008). The bottom floors feature theatre stages and performance halls, the upper floors are high-end condominiums.

A few-minutes walk from Shin-Kōbe Station gets me to the ropeway up to Nunobiki Herb Garden. Kōbe is sandwiched by water and mountains, so it has quite a few cable car / funicular / ropeway systems that take passengers up and down the mountains.

Looking east, showing the G-Clef Shin-Kōbe Tower. The building will be finished in August. At bottom, with a large taxi queue, is Shin-Kōbe Station on the San’yō Shinkansen.

The complex at bottom left is Shin-Kōbe Oriental City (1988).

Nunobiki Falls

In the distance is Port Island, an artificial island. Beyond that is Kōbe Airport, and beyond that, barely visible, is southwestern Ōsaka Prefecture.

Nunobiki Herb Garden

You're so close to the city here, yet so far... There's some nice hiking trails and it's incredibly quiet. I went late in the afternoon and there were few people, making for a nice break from all the action down below.

On the way back down...

To be continued...
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awesome shots, stunning trains!
Kansai by Train: Part 6

One last shot of Shin-Kōbe Station, nestled in the hills.

On the way back down to Sannomiya…

Walking down the hill, I ran across a couple of wild boars… Apparently, they are fairly common in this area. I would have taken a picture, but it was too dark and I didn’t want to use my flash.

I grabbed a quick dinner in this retail arcade near Sannomiya Station.

I head over to the Port Liner’s Sannomiya Station. The Port Liner is an automated guideway transit (AGT) system that connects Sannomiya, Port Island (home to the International Convention Center and Exhibition Hall, plus various university campuses, businesses, and hotels), and Kōbe Airport.

A 2000 series Port Liner waits at the platform before departing for the airport.

The system is driverless, so you get an obstructed view from the front. Another train is arriving at the station to our left.

Kōbe Airport Station.

There’s a rooftop observatory deck on top of the airport terminal building. You get really good views of plane activity and the Kōbe skyline.

Leaving the airport…

One parting shot of Sannomiya…

Grabbed a limited express Hankyū train back to Ōsaka. This is back at Umeda.

JR Ōsaka Station

Ōsaka Loop Line map

At Tennōji Station, a 201-series train on the Ōsaka Loop Line. These trains first entered service in the early 80s when JR was still a single, government-operated railway. These have pretty much disappeared from Tōkyō’s JR network, although a few still remain.

Transferred to the Midōsuji Line to get back to Namba…

Walking to the exit at Namba Station…

To be continued…
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