All day today, Don and I noticed an unusual number of photographers out and about. First, as we walked through Inokashira park, I assumed the many people walking around with high tech cameras were looking for shots of fall colors, and I felt bad for them, since the unusually warm autumn has left little of the leaves turning colors in the park yet.
But then I noticed that they seemed intent on photographs anyway, high-tech cameras with fancy lenses perched atop tripods, especially in and around the creek, photographing what looked like a not-particularly-beautiful-nor-even-interesting view of the creek, framed by the railroad trestle. But there were so many people photographing that view…what was I not seeing?
We left the park on our way to Shimo-Kitazawa, and since we were already in the park, we were excited to leave from a new train station – the Inokashira Park station. When we arrived at the platform, there stood about thirty people with fancy cameras in hand or on tripods, all facing north. This was definitely strange, but maybe they were part of a photography class, on assignment?
However, there were a few small boys on our platform, also facing north with cameras – though theirs were cell phone cameras. So I figured, what the heck? I love trains and haven’t taken many train photos since I’ve been here, and when in Japan…. so as the next train came, I too stepped daringly over the line, ignored the blaring train whistle (this is very, very unlike me – I’m usually terrified of train accidents) and snapped a few pics.
We returned from Shimo-Kitazawa about five hours later, and there was a huge crowd inside the Kichijoji station, also lined up on the platform, eagerly waiting for photos of the trains.
Seriously, what we were missing?
Don finally asked someone what was going on, and she explained: this was the last day the Keio 3000 series trains would be running. They would be retired after tonight.
And suddenly, we felt so lucky to be there: we were part of history! How exciting! The very last day these trains would be running! What if we had just let this moment pass us by?! Just gotten on a new train tomorrow without forever commemorating the momentous event?!
And so of course, we too had to wait for a few more trains to come in, so we could capture this historic moment – of which we had no idea, just a few seconds earlier – on film.
This is more or less paraphrased (less so – i.e. more directly plagiarized – sorry, bad academic form! – as it goes on) from some website Don is reading to me while I write this post:
The 3000 series trains were introduced in the 1960s; they were the first stainless steel trains for the Keio company. The front part of the trains were painted in one of each seven light/pastel colors – what Keio called “the rainbow colors.” They established the image of the Inokashira line. At their peak, there were 145 of these trains, but they have been replaced largely by the 1000 series. That front part is fiberglass, the first such usage on trains in Japan. Thus, they were given the nickname “sutenpurakaa,” which is an abbreviation for the Japanese pronunciation of “stainless and plastic car.”
(Hmm…you can probably tell from this punchy post it’s a bit late for me….off to bed now!)