'Cabbage Patch' Line

The Choshi Dentetsu in Eastern Chiba Prefecture

By Colin Brown



Car 1001, the most recently introduced stock

Rolling down on the poorly ballasted track mixed with weed and soil is car 1001, the most recently introduced stock.
By Brian Walker, in August 2000.

Prologue:
'Cabbage Patch' Line is the 'nickname' I applied to the Choshi Dentetsu (Choshi Electric Railway). The reason is because it passes through an area which closely resembles the district to the north-east of my home near Biggleswade. It is famous for the cultivation of the best green vegetables in the UK. Following on from the spring 2000 JRS Railtour our Chairman and myself stayed for a further week. We had the use of his son's flat at Ichinowari, one stop south of Kasukabe on the Isesaki line of the Tobu Railway. In fact we commuted by Shinkansen from Tokyo most evenings via Omiya on our JR Railpass. This avoided the need to reach the Asakusa terminus and also the requirement to pay the full fare on the Tobu. Sometimes we even got a complimentary cup of coffee!

Situation:
Located on a hammer-head shaped headland on the large peninsula which is Chiba Prefecture, Choshi is the most easterly point of the prefecture. It is situated on the Tonekawa, the boundary between Chiba and Ibaraki Prefectures and faces the Pacific Ocean. Close to the city which is one of the largest fishing ports in Japan is the Iinuma Temple and Choshi Port Tower at the Suisan Port Center, from which can be had a fine view of the mouth of the river and the Port. The Port Festival (Minato Matsuri) is held every August and needless to say the area is important for its many seafood restaurants. In the town are craft workshops which make traditional 'maiwai' fishermen's festive costumes as well as the 'tairyobata' hand painted cotton fishing banners. Apart from shoyu (soya sauce) breweries there is a flourishing industry in the production of bamboo ware, paper umbrellas (sunshades), hand painted paper kites and miniature fishing boats in the traditional style. Probably the most famous items are the 'boshu uchiwa' flat decorated fans.

Access:
Choshi can be accessed from the north by the JR Narita line via Sawara after a journey of 85 minutes. A slightly longer trip of about 90 minutes eastwards by class 183 EMU on the Sobu line from Chiba via Sakura is possible. Just before entering Choshi there is a substantial rail-served warehouse and many sidings, reflecting no doubt the storage and distribution of the local land and sea produce.

Background:
Originally a steam line, which only lasted for four years from 1912, served the scenic headland. In 1923 petrol driven locomotives started working a new 6.4 km long 1,067 mm gauge line which was soon electrified with overhead power supply in 1925. The railway jogged along unspectacularly until taken over by the local bus company in 1963, thereby saving the line from the threat of closure.

Ticket Office:
Walking through arches of a stylized windmill, trains leave from a bay platform at the east end of the JR station. Alongside this can be seen the running depot where blue and cream JR class 113 EMUs of the Narita Line layover. One stop on the short 10 station line at Nakano-cho is the depot, squeezed in between the buildings of a soya sauce brewery. It was here that we discovered the railway's side line of packing 'bento' boxes as well as other items for various clients. In fact the tiny booking office was submerged in cardboard boxes which overflowed onto the narrow platform. There was also a small sales outlet where Richard bought a canned Tuna Curry, although I think he passed it on to his son. Above the 12" square ticket office grille was the only item of English, which said 'to sell tickets' in handwriting. Higher up was a complete fare table hand written in chalk on a blackboard and dated 1 July 1997, in Japanese style, (9-7-1) it listed single fares as well as one, three and six monthly fares for both adults and children. However there are fare tables of the 'stepped' variety (as we used to see displayed on London buses) above a 'J' shaped map of this line on the cars. The 'J' shape lies on its side, ie. - as the line starts off eastwards and then turns south to its coastal terminus. The full cost for an adult single trip is 310 Yen with the child fare at half but adjusted slightly upwards to the nearest 10 Yen, eg. 160 Yen for the full run. There is an attractive colourful single fold 160 x 87 mm 'Komawari Tegata Oneday Open Ticket' at 620 Yen (310 Yen child). Not only does it have 5 tear-off strips and a map of the headland and the line with local places of interest indicated, on the rear, it carries a nice picture of car #701, amidst green vegetables with the lighthouse on the cliff and the sea on the horizon. The full date was hand written by the booking clerk and my copy also has the traditional rubber date stamp. The inside carries a large proportion of Japanese script (for such a small railway) plus a vertical diagram with each station indicated and the time taken between each one. With the longest being 3 minutes and the shortest 1 minute, the total journey time iis seen to be 16 minutes, giving an average speed of 22.5 km/h (14 mph).

Arches of a stylized windmill

Walking through arches of a stylized windmill, trains leave from a bay platform at the east end of the JR station. Alongside this can be seen the running depot where blue and cream JR class 113 EMUs of the Narita Line layover.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

the ticket office of Nakano-cho station

The ticket office of Nakano-cho station is in an about 12" square room. Higher up the grille is a complete fare table hand written in chalk on a blackboard and dated 1 July 1997.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

fare tables of the 'stepped' variety

There are fare tables of the 'stepped' variety above a 'J' shaped map of the line on the cars.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

Service:
Although as might be expected there is a passing loop and sidings at the depot, the loop was occupied by what was presumably the peak service 2-car EMU on layover. During the off peak, service is maintained by two single cars passing at Kasagami-Kurohae, where derelict car #101, with heavily peeling paintwork was stored on a siding. Track in the depot area was reasonable with timber sleepers on rather shallow ballast. Progressing toward the coastal terminus at Togawa with its single car stub end and loop, there was more weed and the ballast was mixed with soil. The penultimate station of Inubo (Inuboh) has an impressive arch which is inscribed with a shield carrying the wording Inuboh Estacao (Spanish maybe?). This is the place to detrain for the 1 km walk eastwards to the old Inubosaki Lighthouse on Cape Inubosaki. About the same distance in the opposite direction is the Chikyu-no-Maruku-Mieru-Oka-Tembokan, which is a Horizon Observatory from which there is a total 360 panoramic view of the headland. From the viewpoint the 50 meter high cliffs facing the Pacific can also be seen. Further south-west along the coast is one of the finest white sand beaches stretching for 60 km to Misaki-machi, backed by restaurants, pensions and hotels and a seaside park with 27 tennis courts and 13 pools. In fact everything one could want for holidaying.

Most parts of the line run through sandy landscapes surrounded with vegetables fields

Most parts of the line run through sandy landscapes surrounded with vegetables fields.
By Brian Walker, in August 2000.

Car 1002

Type 1000, Deha 1001 and 1002, used to be subway cars of the Eidan Subway Ginza Line. After receiving refurbishment, they came to this line in 1994. They are high-performance cars equipped with four 75 kw traction motors.
By Brian Walker, in August 2000.

Inubo station with an impressive arch

The penultimate station of Inubo (Inuboh) has an impressive arch which is inscribed with a shield carrying the wording Inuboh.
By Brian Walker, in August 2000.

Crew and Rolling Stock:
Crew uniforms consist of bright yellow jackets and a yellow company tie with dark trousers, topped by a yellow 'pill-box' cap with a black peak. However the car liveries are an attractive but slightly garish salmon-pink on the lower panels with a rich dark brown window band and a yellow cant rail line. Car numbers are yellow and placed in the centre of the front below the large pink painted headlights on the roof. Car numbers are also carried low down at the trailing end, ie. away from the pantograph, on the gold lined-out lower panels, which show the company name. The six passenger cars are numbered 301, 701/2, 801 and 1001/2. All have different body styles, being as they are second-hand from various other lines. Number 301 has 3 passenger doors per side. #701/2 have 2 front windows, a side driver's door and 2 passenger doors per side, and were acquired in 1978. Car 801 was acquired in 1986, has a center front door, 3 passenger doors per side and a side driver's door. Cars 1001/2 were refurbished by and acquired from the Eidan Subway in 1994. They also have center front doors, 3 side passenger doors and a driver's side door.

1941 made type 700 came from Omi Railway

Type 700, Deha 701 and 702, are 1941 made old EMUs came from Omi Railway in Shiga prefecture. They were transferred to this line in 1978. They have different front styles at both ends. Two-window style is at the Choshi end.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

The type 700's Togawa end

The type 700's Togawa end is in 3-window style.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

1950 made Deha 801

1950 made Deha 801 was acquired from the Iyo Railway in Shikoku in 1986. This type is still one of the main stock in the Choshi Dentetsu fleet along with type 700 and 1000.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

4-wheel steeple cab loco:
One of the most unusual items of rolling stock is a black painted, rather peeling, 4-wheel short wheelbase steeple cab loco with a bow collector. This is lettered CDK (most probably Choshi Dentetsu Kabushikigaisha - Choshi Electric Railway & Co. Ltd.) on the side at one end and AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitaes Gesellschaft, the German builder) and #3 at the opposite end. There is also a strange 4-wheel opensided tourist carriage which appears to have been built on a wagon underframe. Numbered 101 (a duplicate) it also carries the initials CDK and has a roof supported by 8 pillars. It sports a vertical brake shaft with a horizontal yellow painted handwheel. In a seaside 'fun' way it is painted light blue with dark blue stylized waves topped with white, along the lower sides. It was presumably pulled by the steeple cab loco which was built in 1922 but not acquired until 1941. Signalling on the line is 2 aspect colour light.

4-wheel short wheelbase steeple cab loco Deki 3 with a bow collector. This locomotive was made in 1922 by AEG in Germany and came to this line in 1941. Its motive power is two sets of 29.8 kw traction motors. This vintage loco is still maintained in working order.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.

Nakano-cho

A view of Nakano-cho depot squeezed in between the buildings of a soya sauce brewery.
By Brian Walker, in August 2000.


Epilog:
The whole of this short railway carries the ambience of a fun seaside tourist line serving an area of coastal scenic beauty!

Togawa station

Togawa station retains a good old days ambience with a wooden station building.
By Brian Walker, in August 2000.

the line end of Togawa

The line ends at a pinched loop with a spring point connecting to a siding.
By Colin Brawn, in April 2000.





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