Photographing the Shinkansen: In and Around Morioka

While it is often easier to photograph shinkansen along the Tokaido Shinkansen due to the high frequency of trains or due to some of the backdrops (e.g. Fuji, the tea fields around Kakegawa or Lake Hamana), sometimes it’s good to get out to somewhere different. This post features some of the photographs I have taken in and around Morioka in the north of Japan.

One of the key points about Morioka is that it is where the Akita Shinkansen splits away from the Tohoku Shinkansen. For many years Morioka was the northern terminal of the Tohoku Shinkansen before the extensions first to Hachinohe and then Shin-Aomori. Watching the trains split or come together at Morioka is a popular photo/video spot.

For my book Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan, I wanted to get some pictures of the shinkansen on the Akita Shinkansen line going through the snow. The easiest way to do this in terms of time was to hire a car (it also provides a refuge from the cold when not waiting for the train). Here are the pictures which were included in the book (you can see other pictures on this page)

These photos were taken close to Tazawako station (so it is possible to take the train to get there rather than take a car). The photos were taken close to the Ramen Shop in the bottom left of the following map.

In 2017 I went back to the Morioka for research for my article ‘Developing a Model to Explain Modifications to Public Transportation Accident Memorials‘ and to visit The ANA Flight NH58 Memorial. Having a bit of time to spare as I drove back to Morioka, I spotted that I was close to the railway line and so pulled over in the hope that a shinkansen would be passing soon.

I got lucky and got the following shots.

For more information about my research on the shinkansen, click here, and for more information about the photographs I use in my research, click here. Also see Hijacking Japan – my novel set partly on a shinkansen.

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