Sunday, October 14, 2012

Railway Technical Research Institute - Open Day 2012

Thanks to a posting on the Yahoo Japan Trains group I got to hear about the Railway Technical Research Institute Open Day. The research complex at Kunitachi is usually open once a year to allow the staff to show the public what they work on.

I went along this afternoon and took a few photos.

The rail welding demonstration is quite a spectacular display of pyrotechnics

Several of the large machine shops used for testing railway technology were open. This one is used to test the tensile strength of rails:
The pantograph testing device was very interesting, and the rail fastener testing device was also in operation and you could watch it rattle the rail. You could take a two minute ride on the Hi-Tram, if you were prepared to queue for, what looked like, quite a while.

Inside there are plenty of indoor attractions too. Model railways were very popular:

There were various displays and demonstrations including superconducting magnets, one involving a lot of what I guess was liquid nitrogen to demonstrate the effect of low temperatures. Another 40 photos of the event are here if you would like to see more.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Chinkabashi (Sinking bridges)

The shimanto river is famous for a particular kind of bridge called Chinkabashi : Sinking or Subsidence bridge. They are designed so that the river can flow over the bridge during high water. (I've just discovered from Wikipedia they could also be called Low water crossing rather than Submersible bridge as that implies that the bridge actually moves to submerge itself) The southern most bridge of this type on the Shimanto river is the Sada bridge.
Further upriver was the Takase bridge :
And this is what they look like when the river is over the top at Katsuma:
We almost did not get to see these bridges but I am glad that in the end we did. We walked over the first one, and the sensation of the river being so close and the power of the rushing water was quite an exhilarating experience. Standing on the edge while the cars pass is also not for the faint hearted.

There are more photos of what they look like when not covered in water in this forum thread and on the Japanese Wikipedia page for Chinkabashi (沈下橋)