Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Romance Of Choshi Electric Railway

"Just call me Yu-chan!"

Ishigami Yuko, 
our guide for the train ride 


  The open space in front of Choshi station.

After our lunch and some light souvenir shopping, we moved to the next stop. A short walk of five minutes and we arrived at JR Choshi station. However, we were there not to ride on the JR trains, but to hop onto the Choshi Electric Railway ("Choshi Dentetsu", 銚子電鉄). There are ten stations in total, which spans a total distance of 6.4 km and roughly twenty minutes to get from the starting point (Choshi station, 銚子駅) to the last station in Tokawa (外川). 

One unique thing about this railway is that it doesn't have its own station. You have to walk through the JR platforms to board the Choshi Electric Railway, which is located on an extension of the JR platform. 


 The taxi stand at the train station.


The big family of Chiba Kun Ambassadors, having a group photo before heading to board the train (photo credit: Laura Jacob).


The new boss of the International Division of Chiba Prefectural Office, Mr Toyoshima Teruo and Sikiru from America.


Look at how they simplified the Yamanote Line (left) to only six stations lol!


It reads "Beware of dolphins!". No-lar, kidding only. It actually welcomes the visitors to the city where they can spot dolphins here.

To make sure we get a clearer idea about this railway, we had a guide who tagged along us throughout the train journey. Our attendant of the day was Ishigami-san, who is one of the Choshi Tourist Attendants (銚子観光アテンダント). Most of these attendants hail from this town and their job is to act as a guide to visitors around while explaining about interesting facts about a certain area or station.

For example, there is a shop selling taiyaki (たい焼き) or Japanese fish-shaped cake with red bean paste inside one of the station - Kannon station (観音駅). It allows visitors to have something sweet to bite on while waiting for the trains. 


The cute little station building for Choshi station of Choshi Electric Railway, which was built to resemble the Dutch windmills.


The train time table. I can't imagine if the trains in Tokyo is as few as here. It will be a nightmare!


Here comes our train!


The platform to board the Choshi Electric Railway.


The train runs from Choshi to the last stop in Tokawa.

This trains on this railway stops only operates two to three trains every hour. The low frequency of the trains is perfect for visitors to hop and get down from the trains to enjoy the old towns along the journey. The ride on this unique retro trains, decorated with hand-drawn advertisement will definitely bring visitors travel back into the Showa years. 

Once the train takes off from Choshi station, a glance through the window and visitors will get to enjoy the scenery of cabbage farms and old fishing towns.


So, lets hop into the train and see how it looks like!


Basically, the interior looks nothing much different from other trains in Japan.


Our friendly guide, Ishigami-san, sharing all sorts of fun facts with the Chiba Kun Ambassadors.


We reacted at one of Ishigami-san's funny stories (photo credit: Ishizaki Masataka).

Ishigami-san told us that there are two major soy sauce makers in Choshi city, namely Yamasa and Higeta. So, I posed a tricky question to her, by asking which brand she uses at home. I was expecting that she gonna take some time to answer my question. However, guess what, not wanting to appear biased, she remained composed and told us, "Both!"

That is indeed a smart and safe reply from a pro-guide.


This is the shop selling taiyaki that I mentioned just now.


Some stations are made of wood and they are really small and cute, just like this one for example.


It was the season of hydrangea, and there were rows of beautiful hydrangea in full bloom along the journey.


This red Deha 1002 is the newest addition of Choshi's Dentetsu. It is also only at this point that trains can bypass each other before there's only one track for the rest of the rest of the line (photo credit: Laura Jacob).


Ashikajima station (海鹿島駅). A first glance at this station makes it look just like another station.


But guess what? This station boast the fact as the most easternmost station in the Kanto region.

Halfway during the train ride, a grandma in her late seventies walked to me. She then suddenly popped me a question and it went something like this, "Boy, I have a question for you. You know, I have a grandson, and I feed him with cheese almost everyday to make him grow taller. So, can I know what you eat that made you grew this tall?" 

To have a Japanese, to approach a stranger, especially foreigners or gaijin and start a conversation is something very rare. Just ask anyone who has spend some time living in Japan and I believe they will agree with me. However, probably this obaasan cannot tahan already and she wanted to know my secret of how to grow tall lol!


You can see me talking to the grandma at the background (photo credit: Ishizaki Masataka).

We continued to chat for the next few minutes and suddenly someone shouted for my name. "Calvin, bye bye, see you soon!" Yes, it was time to get off the train and I guess I enjoyed talking to the grandma too much that I was almost left behind by the group haha wtf!

Our last stop was Inubo station (犬吠駅), and not Tokawa station because we were heading to the lighthouse which was situated nearby after that.


Here we are, at Inubo station.


Trying to take a shot from a different perspective.


A photo in front of Inubo station, with some old train coaches in the background.


Our three new volunteer guides from the Choshi Kanko Sentokai (銚子観光船頭会), explaining a statue in front of the station.


Placing a dog ("inu", いぬ) on top of the "impoverished God" ("binbou-no kamisama", 貧乏の神様) will make it read as "binbou-ga inu" (貧 乏がいぬ) or "binbou-ga inai" (貧乏がいない), which means "poverty is absent" (photo credit: Laura Jacob).


Another local speciality from Choshi - nure-senbei ice cream (photo credit: Laura Jacob).

This ice cream is basically senbei (rice crackers) soaked in soy sauce. Yes, sou sauce again. This town certainly has a special love affection for soy sauce haha! It was an idea from a group of students from a local high school, to add some little bits of these rice crackers into the ice cream. That is how nure-senbei ice cream was born.

Finally, we took a group photo at Inubo station, before heading to our next destination.


Group photo at Inubo station with our guides (photo credit: Kase Fumihiko).

~ to be continued ~

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