Wooden Roundhouse at Tenryu-Futamata

Hiroshi Naito

A wooden roundhouse still exists at a depot on a regional railway in the western part of Shizuoka prefecture, about 250 km southwest of Tokyo. This is a third sector railway, Tenryu-Hamanako Railway, named after the Tenryu river and Hamana Lake in the region, which took over the former national railway's (JNR) Futamata line. Futamata is a small town (currently part of Tenryu city) located in the middle of the line, about 20 km northeast of Hamamatsu, the second largest city in the prefecture. Tenryu-Futamata station is the most strategic point of the line, where its headquarters and depot are placed. The Tenryu river flows down just west of the town, and rugged mountainous areas come closely down to the town from the north.

Click here to see the route map of the Tenryu-Hamanako Railway.

The Futamata line was strategically constructed during the last war as a detour route of the Tokaido main line, in case any of bridges over the Tenryu river and Hamana Lake were destroyed, and was inaugurated in 1940. It diverges from Kakegawa on the Tokaido Main line and converges at Shinjohara, running a 67.7 km route along the rim of the Enshu (the name of the region) Plain where rice paddies stretch, along with numbers of tea fields and orange plantations lying on the hillsides. The line was supposed to be abandoned as a result of the JNR privatization in 1987, but was taken over by the new railway company established in cooperation with local towns and villages along the line, who eagerly wanted continuation of the rail service.

The new railway introduced newly built rail buses for its fleet upon origination of business, but inherited facilities from the JNR as they were, with a roundhouse associated with a turntable in the line's engine depot at Tenryu-Futamata. Not only the roundhouse but also surrounding wooden buildings in use for the line's workshop office and crew office well retain the ambiance of the old JNR facility. The images contained here, taken in August 1998 by the author, depict the overall circumstances of the depot and station.

Overall view of Tenryu-Futamata depot

An overall view of Tenryu-Futamata depot, with a water tower, wooden buildings and a roundhouse associated with a turntable.

Railbuses parked in front of the roundhouse

Railbuses take a rest in front of the roundhouse. The line's fleet consists of these diesel rail cars.

The wooden roundhouse

A view of the wooden roundhouse with an old turntable in front.

1907-made turntable

A view of the depot from the roundhouse.

A close up of the roundhouse

A close up of the roundhouse entrance. Some steam engines (C58s) used to reside in the house, but were replaced by DE10 diesel engines in 1970.

Entering Tenryu-Futamata station

A view of Tenryu-Futamata station, from a train pulling in. The station comprises three main tracks with two island platforms.

Platform of Tenryu-Futamata station

From a platform looking at the station office building. The line serves only passenger transportation with a fleet of railbuses. This railbus is one of the original type, Type TH3, 23.5 tons, with passenger capacity of 100, built in 1987.

Interior of the crew office with an interlocking panel governing the depot

The interior of the crew office with a relay interlocking control desk that governs the traffic in the station and depot.

A cab view on the line.

A typical cab view of the line, with peaceful looking rustic scenery, with rice paddies on the right and tea fields on the left.

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