I’ve done a few posts where I have referred to ‘lucky photography‘ and I have also done a series of posts about my favourite shinkansen. As with a post about ‘Dr Yellow‘, this post effectively brings the two series of posts together. However, while Dr Yellow is based on a 700-series shinkansen, which finished top of my list of shinkansen, the subject of this post is East-i, which is based on the E3-series shinkansen which finished bottom of my list.
While I have been lucky enough to travel on Dr Yellow (both a version based on the original 0-series and the one based on the 700-series), I have never been able to arrange a trip on East-i, which is owned and operated by JR East and largely does the same job as Dr Yellow – i.e., travelling at standard shinkansen operating speeds while checking if there are any defects with any aspect of the infrastructure. The main difference with JR East version is that it has to be a narrower design so that it can also operate on the ‘mini’ Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen lines.
However, as touched upon in a post about taking photographs of the shinkansen in Takasaki, I got lucky one time when I was there to take a photo for the cover of my novel, Hijacking Japan, as East-i passed through. Just before a non-stopping E4 shinkansen passed by my location on the platform at Takasaki, there was a warning of a passing train in the other direction. I was worried that this train – whatever it was going to be – would get in the way of my shot of the E4. In the end, I was swivelling left to right to get pictures of both passing the station as I was delighted to see that the other passing train was East-i.
As East-i passed me, the E4 came into sight and I got possibly my favourite shinkansen photo ever. It’s rare enough to get a photo of two shinkansen passing at speed, let alone one of them being a rare train like East-i.
I also liked the additional photographs that I got where the reflection of East-i is visible on the E4…
In addition to the photos I got, I also have an East-i model that I got while in Japan one year…
So, despite the E3-series finishing bottom of my list of shinkansen designs, thanks to its colour scheme (I support a football team that plays in red and white), the rarity of seeing the train, and the nature of the lucky photographs that I managed to get, East-i stands out as a particular favourite train of mine.