An Illustrated Guide to Train Journey’s Trains
Between Takamatsu and Matsuyama
Sporting a novel design, the 8600-series limited express-type DC electric railcars debuted as replacements for the 2000-series limited express-type internal combustion cars used for the “Shiokaze” and “Ishizuchi” limited express trains in service on the JR Yosan Line. Based on a “retro-future concept,” the bold and unique exterior of 8600-series railcars was designed as a futuristic express train with a nostalgic railway car look in mind. Each seat inside these trains has been outfitted with amenities that serve the needs of the times, including an electric socket, adjustable pillow, drink holder, coat hook, and even a large table installed with PC use in mind. In addition to wheelchair space and multifunction bathrooms and wash areas that accommodate wheelchairs, these trains employ full-color information displays that tell passengers what the next station is and on what side of the train the car doors will open. Coupled with voice guidance at the car doors and information in braille inscribed on the backrest of each seat, these features ensure that anyone can ride this train with ease. Currently, 8600-series DC electric railcars are used in a certain number of “Ishizuchi” limited express trains in service between Takamatsu and Matsuyama on the JR Yosan Line.
The distinct front of the train car, which sports a round black face fashioned with the head of a steam locomotive in mind, exudes the same power and dynamism as its inspiration.
The orange and green on the train car’s body respectively represent the image colors of Ehime Prefecture and Kagawa Prefecture, and are intended to express “the warm climate of Setouchi” paired with “the calm and beautiful nature of Shikoku.”
Inscribed near the connecting side of a two-car train is the logo “SS.” This stands for “Setouchi Stream Express,” the catch phrase of the “Shiokaze” and “Ishizuchi” trains.
All standard cars contain two rows of pairs of reclining seats equipped with a mechanism that slides the seat’s surface forward in conjunction with the backrest.
The interior of this car sports a bright, relaxed design. The seat moquette is colored green in 8600-type train cars and orange in 8750-type train cars to give the two distinction.
The inside of 8750-type train cars is fitted with multifunction bathroom that accommodate wheelchairs. Large space is also at the ready to ensure smooth access by wheelchair users.
This park is situated on the former site of Takamatsu Castle, which was also known as “Tamamo Castle.” While the castle keep no longer exists, the park contains a number of Important Cultural Properties of Japan, including the “Kitanomaru Tsukimiyagura” moon-viewing tower, the “Mizute Gomon” gate, and the “Watariyagura” connecting tower.
Located within Kotohiki Park, a three-minute taxi ride from JR Kan’onji Station. A gigantic depiction of a Kanei-Tsuho, an old Japanese currency with a square in its center, on the white sands of Ariake-Hama Beach that stretches 122m horizontally and 90m vertically. Said to bring health, long life and financial freedom to whoever glances upon it.
The South Wing of the Shikoku Railway Culture Center in this park, which opened in July 2014, has the C57-type steam locomotive, the Kiha 65-type internal combustion car, a free gauge train and other train cars on display. A diorama that lets visitors experience driving a train is also available.
An art festival held in 2014 at the Dogo Onsen hot springs. “Hotel Horizontal,” a project that featured exhibits of “works of art where you can spend the night,” were particularly popular among guests of the hot springs. Certain works featured at the festival, including “Suuri Taiga/Daisogen” by Fujiwo Ishimoto, are still on display for visitor enjoyment.
Known as a local favorite in Kagawa, Sanuki Udon noodles can be savored all over the prefecture. Enjoy a noodle delicacy prepared with four of the natural ingredients Kagawa is blessed with: wheat, salt, soy sauce and dried sardines.
These roll cake-shaped confectionaries local to the Matsuyama area are made by wrapping bean jam in sponge cake. Among these tarts, Ichiroku Tarts are particularly well-known across Japan as a representative confectionary of the Shikoku region.
Text and photos by: Yoshiyuki Kekke, traveloguer
Certain photos courtesy of: JR Shikoku/Kotsu Shimbun Service/“Udon-Ken Net” Sightseeing Guide of Kagawa Prefecture, Japan/The Railway History Park in Saijo/Dogoonsenart/Ichiroku Co., Ltd.
*Data contained above is as of April 2015.