Countdown to the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen on March 14th, 2015!

shinkansen
New Shinkansen model W7                                         Countdown display in Toyama Prefectural Office

Originally written for the Vol.8-No.2 edition (Nov 28, 2014) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Half a century has passed since the idea of the Shinkansen (bullet train) was born. Finally, the dream comes true for those who have been waiting in Toyama! The express type “Kagayaki” will make 10 round-trip runs per day between Tokyo and Kanazawa, and the estimated time between Toyama and Tokyo is 2 hours and 8 minutes. This line will stop at Tokyo, Ueno, Omiya, Nagano, Toyama, and Kanazawa. The local stop type “Hakutaka” will make 14 round-trips per day between Tokyo and Kanazawa, and 1 round-trip between Kanazawa and Nagano. In Toyama Prefecture, the “Hakutaka” will be stopping at Kurobe Unazukionsen station, Toyama station, and Shin-Takaoka station. There will also be a shuttle type, “Tsurugi”, which makes 18 round-trips per day between Toyama and Kanazawa, and stopping at Shin-Takaoka station. The timetable is still being adjusted by Japan Railways, and a detailed timetable should be available about 3 months before opening.

When complete, the Hokuriku Shinkansen will connect Tokyo to major cities such as Nagano, Joetsu, Toyama, Kanazawa, Fukui, and reach all the way to Osaka, covering 700 km. Service between Tokyo and Nagano began in 1997, and on March 14th, 2015, service will extend to Kanazawa. The opening is accompanied by the unveiling of new car models, the E7 and W7 models (of the East Japan Railway Company and West Japan Railway Company, respectively). Each train will have 12 cars, and will be capable of maximum speeds of 260 km/h (about 162 mph). Currently, rail travel between Toyama and Tokyo takes an average of 3 hours and 26 minutes, so travel time will be cut down by about an hour and 20 minutes with the opening of the new line. The passenger capacity will also increase; the current 6 million round trip seats available per year will nearly triple, reaching over 17 million per year. It is expected that the number of passengers will increase greatly along the new line.

On September 10th, a countdown board was installed in the prefectural government building, which displays the number of days remaining before service begins. A countdown can also be found on the prefecture’s PR site for the opening of the shinkansen, and even the prefecture’s main homepage has an added animation of the shinkansen zipping across the page with the prefectural mascot “Kitokito kun” waving and holding a flag counting down the days. His message is “Hokuriku Shinkansen opening, only ______ more days!” He then zips by again, this time holding a flag with a different message promoting regional events that will change weekly. Press F5 to reload the page if you want to see him again!

Source: (Article and image) Toyama Just Now

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New Station Building Opens in Takaoka

Takaoka Station

Originally written for the Vol.8-No.1 edition (April 15, 2014) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

On March 29, the new building named “Curun Takaoka” opened at Takaoka Station in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture. The name for this new entryway to downtown Takaoka comes from the Japanese word kurun which can mean both “Are you coming?” and “whirl around.” The amalgamation of letters in “Curun” also have English significance: “c” is for “creative,” “u” is for “urban,” and the word “run.”

Takaoka’s local industries can be seen in the building, such as the aluminum curtain wall. The first floor features a waiting room with displays showing departure information for JR lines, Man’yo Line (tram) and buses, a ticket booth, and a Man’yo Line station. While the Man’yo Line station was previously outside the Takaoka Station building, it is now more convenient for transferring passengers. The waiting room has a mailbox of the famous anime/manga character Doraemon. (Creator Fujiko F. Fujio is from Takaoka.)

A covered passageway on the second floor connects the station to Wing Wing Takaoka, a facility that includes a hotel, library, high school, and parking lot. Eight of the pillars have bronze panels with flower designs, a product of Takaoka copperware. The passageway also faces a cafe, bakery, convenience store, and a yakitori (skewered chicken) restaurant. Inside the building, there are shops that sell local products such as masu-zushi (pressed sushi), kamaboko (steamed processed fish cake), Takaoka copperware, and Takaoka lacquerware.

The underground level also has a variety of stores and restaurants. In addition, a stage area complete with audio and lighting equipment will be used for performances and events. More public areas will open on June 1, including gallery spaces.

“This facility is at a crossroads of public transportation such as trains, trams, and buses. In one year, the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) will begin stopping at Shin-Takaoka Station approximately 1.5 km (1 mi.) away. We hope to synergize to make downtown Takaoka a more vibrant place,” says a Takaoka Station Building representative.

Source (article and image): Toyama Just Now

Takaoka City Receives National Recognition as “Historical City”

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.6 edition (August 2, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Takaoka City Historical Preservation Plan has earned recognition from the Japanese government as a Historical City under the Historical Town Creation Act (Rekishi Machizukuri-hou). It is the first in Toyama Prefecture, and second in the Hokuriku Region. (The first was Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, in January 2009.) There are now a total of 26 cities and towns with this “Historical City” designation. Combined with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) scheduled for 2014, an increase in tourism is anticipated.

The Historical Town Creation Act, signed in November 2008, gives recognition to the historical preservation plans of the cities, towns, and villages, and supports projects that nurture local history and traditional culture.

Takaoka City, located in the northwest of Toyama Prefecture, is the prefecture’s second-largest city after Toyama City. During the Nara Period (710-794), Takaoka became the capital of Etchu Province, and the famous Man’yoshu poet Otomo no Yakamochi was once the governor. In 1609, Maeda Toshinaga, the second head of the Kaga Domain, built Takaoka Castle and developed the surrounding area. Soon after, Maeda Toshitsune further stimulated the area’s industry. Combined with the efforts of the townspeople, Takaoka grew to be a commercially successful city.

In present-day Takaoka, folk arts such as Takaoka copperware and lacquer ware have been passed down, and festivals such as the Takaoka Mikurumayama Festival and the Fushiki Hikiyama Festival continue to be celebrated. In addition, Takaoka retains historical architecture such as the National Treasure temple of Zuiryu-ji, and in the traditional Yamamachi-suji and Kanaya-machi districts.

With the financial support of the national government, Takaoka will be working on a total of 28 projects over the next ten years to preserve and improve the city’s historical legacy. The wide variety of projects include: maintenance repair work on Zuiryu-ji roofs, reconstruction of the observation tower at the Fushiki Weather Station Museum, building a road from the new shinkansen (bullet train) station (2014 expected completion) to Zuiryu-ji, construction of a Mikurumayama (festival float) Museum, and a survey of historical landmarks related to the Maeda clan.

Takaoka City hopes that residents will have more love and pride for the history of their hometown, and create a city that can better communicate to visitors about its history, traditions, and culture.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now