Monday, June 25, 2018
My New Favorite Thing: Yamakatsu Blue Train Full Box!
I was browsing around Yahoo Auctions last week looking for Yamakatsu baseball cards when suddenly something I had never seen before showed up in the list - a full box of Yamakatsu Blue Train cards. In addition to baseball I am a huge train fan and I just love it when something has interdisciplinary appeal across my various hobby interests so I put a bid in and won.
"Blue Train" is a generic name that describes all long distance sleeper trains in Japan, whose cars are blue (though sometimes the engines that pull them are not). They used to be extremely common sites, even as recently as the late 90s when I first arrived in Japan. The spread of the Shinkansen network to almost every corner of the main islands from Kyushu to Hokkaido has basically made them redundant and the last one, the Hokutosei, retired in 2015 to much bittersweet fanfare.
Two other recipients of atari cards would get these beauties, erasers shaped like Blue Train engines.
It doesn't actually tell you where the train went from, but a little research reveals that the Myoujou went from Osaka to Kagoshima until the line was discontinued in 2008 (shortly before the Kyushu Shinkansen was introduced). The Suisei went from Kyoto to Miyazaki and was discontinued in 2005 (ridership having fallen from 93% in 1989 to a mere 30% in 2004 - quite the rapid decline).
I'm not too sure how big the set is or how close I am likely to get by opening the box, but I am quite motivated to find out more. The Japanese language internet doesn't turn up much information on them, save for this blog entry by someone who, like me, just bought a box and was quite excited by them!