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First Japan Rail Layout


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Having been inspired by one of Westfalen's latest scenic pictures [see Re: Japanese Vacation No.9 (week 2) for the original], Niihama's local temple has just gained a water pump that a weary pilgrim is visiting to slack his thirst.


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Back from my trip to China (Zhuhai) via Hong Kong. Had some time at the end to try and track down any train shops in HK but only managed to find and get to the "Concorde Hobby Shop" in Kowloon. Not a lot of JR N gauge in stock but managed to get two sets of people plus 3 coaches and a couple of JR railway magazines plus some containers. Very helpfull staff and they suggested calling first next time to see what they can get ready.


The coaches I bought were three different Tomix from the "Hokutosei" blue train which fits in with Niihama being set in Hokkaido.


Also by luck, when I got back home, managed to get a cheap, new, matching DD51 off ebay to go with them having spotted it with just 20 minutes to go on the auction!  :grin


Whilst waiting for the "Hokutosei" blue DD51 to turn up in the post, here is the train running with my red DD51. I want to track down the rest of the coaches that make up the  "Hokutosei" set - does anyone have a list (Tomix or Kato) of the coaches made (new releases or old ones that may be available second hand) and also what is the actual order they run in plus which end is closest to the loco?


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I have a short write-up about the train on my site, mostly based on info from the Japanese Wikipedia page from about a year ago and the recent Kato model.  I won't claim it's definitive, but it's a start if you don't have other info.


There have been diferent consists over the years.  The current (c. 2008) one appears to be a mix of six JR Hokkaido cars and six JR East cars:


4B private persons simple sleeper “B compartments”

2B sleeper private persons “Duet”

2B sleeper private persons “Duet”

2B sleeper private persons “Duet”

1B-person sleeper cell “Solo”

1B-person sleeper cell “Solo”

Lobby Mini (with shower)

Dining Car

Private two-person bed “Twin Delux”

Bed for 1 private-person “Royal”

1B-person sleeper cell “Solo”

Bed for 1 private-person “Royal”

2B sleeper private persons “Duet”

Open bed B

Power/Baggage Car


The train isn't turned, so the locomotive it connected to the power car in one direction, and to the sleeper in the other, or so I think. However, every photo I've found has the locomotive attached at the power car end.


Wikipedia has some photos of the train.

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The train isn't turned, so the locomotive it connected to the power car in one direction, and to the sleeper in the other, or so I think. However, every photo I've found has the locomotive attached at the power car end.


Easily explained. The change loco change at Hakodate happens while the train is making it's passenger stop in the dead end Hakodate station so the DD51's are attached to the opposite end of the train. The departures from both Ueno and Sapporo are in the evening so any photos of the train enroute are usually of the arriving train in the morning, ie; southbound into Ueno and northbound into Sapporo therefore the power car always appears on the front of the train.

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A short update of progress with Niihama to catch up on not having posted this year.  :sad:


Generally I have been maturing the layout by adding extra details here and there, expanding the container yard, more cars, trucks and people, plus LED lighting inside the tunnels whilst increasing my rolling stock with a few Hokkaido applicable items - mainly freight wagons and "blue" coaches but also an extra JR red DD51 plus now an early DD54.


I keep all my locos on the track - all wagons & coaches not in use are in a wall mounted display cabinent (with varnished dark red edging to match Japanese style lacquer work) - so to avoid overcrowding I have added a "museum display" to the side of Niihama Station for the DD54 - mimicing the real, remaining DD54 kept at the Modern Transportation Museum in Osaka. Also gives better balance to that side of the station as if there was once a track running down that side which was taken away with the building of the main road (Niihama by-pass?).


Despite being now of an age considered in the west as being "past it / unemployable", I am in the process of changing jobs by choice so future business trips will now be to India rather than Japan or China. To get over this I am going on holiday to the Osaka area next month with my trusty JR Railpass at the ready.  :grin







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On holiday in Japan before starting the new job.


Visited Kobe freight yard next to Takatori Station and realised I have the container yard on the Niihama layout completely wrong - not even got the fork lift truck colours right! Will be a good excuse for some remodelling when I get back.


Based in Shin-Osaka and been photographing freight on the Sanyo main line but numbers appear down - presumably a result of the economic down turn.


Found out I would probably not have been any good as a wild life photographer as even a DD51 managed to sneak past behind me whilst I was on Kobe Station fiddling around with the setting on my new camera.  ???


Will post some pics when I get back.  :grin

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Visited Kobe freight yard next to Takatori Station and realised I have the container yard on the Niihama layout completely wrong - not even got the fork lift truck colours right! Will be a good excuse for some remodelling when I get back.


I'm also modelling a container yard, I'm looking forward to seeing photos!!!

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Some more - key modelling points for me were: stacked no more than 2 high; stacks contain all same size / type of containers - no mixing; stack widths were full width of yard less turning space for forklifts at each end. Forklifts already positioned when trains pull in to take off containers or put on as required so turn around time is low. No one walking around yard - all in forklifts or trucks.


Besides Takatori, another good viewing place is Hiroshima freight yard from Tenjigawa station.







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Based on my last Japan trip, I have relaid out the container yard in Niihama although still needs improving especially the colour of the forklifts. Plus some local contractor has started a new development in the town.


Also picture of a bargain I picked up at a Toy Museum who were raising funds by selling off donated items - a tin plate JR DMU for £10!  :cheesy





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Hey great pictures! Thanks for posting them. The layout is really looking nice.


I don't think I've ever seen the container truck with the trailer before in Japan in that first picture. Are those only in the yards or out on the roads?



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Also picture of a bargain I picked up at a Toy Museum who were raising funds by selling off donated items - a tin plate JR DMU for £10!  :cheesy

Isn't that an 201 series? The cab car doesn't have a pantograph if I'm right.


And which kits have you got the wooden houses like in picture DSC01857 from?


Btw, I found someone who is modelling the Takatori station as well, but clearly with more space:


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The truck+trailer combo came in off the street but the majority were cab+artic' trailer that could take 2x small or 1x large container. Felt quite disconcerting standing at the entrance to the yard photographing the trucks coming in and out as they all looked just like the Tomytec models. Later I stopped to get a bite where the truckers were also stopping for food. Interesting that they were all wearing the same style of baggy trousers and boots with a seperate big toe section. Not many in company uniforms so presumably owner operators.




The tin plate DMU was made by "ICHIKO" and, going by the printing on the side "111-491", is presumably a 111 Series although looking on the net I have not yet found any pictures of the original prototype.


The house under construction is bashed from a Tomytec kit released last year but I cannot give you the kit number as I have binned the box.  :sad:

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cool, thanks, interesting. big toe boots are spota give better gripping of the foot. ive generally seen them on fishermen or folks working in wet/slippery surfaces. thanks again for the picts!



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The (rather nice I might add) tin plate EMU you bought, seems to be an odd mix between the 201系(the front), 113系(the carriage it's self) and 111系(the number).

It seems to me to be a case of the toy manufacturer wanting to profit from the appeal of a new(er) train, like the 201系, by updating their older model based on the 111系/113系.

The 111系 can be seen as a forerunner of the well known 113系, it was produced for a short period (1962~1963) before production switched to the 113系.





203系 (in the colors of the Chūō-Sōbu line, same as you're model):




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The house under construction is bashed from a Tomytec kit released last year but I cannot give you the kit number as I have binned the box.  :sad:

I actually meant the old Japanese style wooden houses next to it rather than the house under construction, they don't seem from Tomytec but I can be wrong.

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A brief update on what has been happening in Niihama as not having posted for some time mainly due to my new job meaning I am for at least 10 days in every month out in India.


Added an extra siding in Niihama Station, changed the signalling layout, plus added some new buildings behind along with more detail here and there.


Will be in Japan next month, first time for over a year, and, for the first time, with my wife so will be looking forward to riding the trains in between visiting castles, shrines, gardens and shops. :)




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Yakumo - you have a beautiful well crafted layout. Have you had people over to see it? I'd be curious to their reactions to seeing a Japanese layout.

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Made further progress on Niihama with the addition of a siding and service depot plus planted some trees, flooded the rice fields and raised a Torii Gate. Still thinking about the bare area on the side, now next to the service depot, which is above where the controllers and switch levers sit on a small table underneath. May add a road next to the service depot with buildings - probably houses - on the other side possibly slightly raised up to give a feel of looking down across their roofs at the station. Depends on what I can pick up at next month's N Gauge International show.


Had an "ahhh sh*t.." moment when I knocked over a bottle of Mek-Pak liquid poly cement which flooded the new siding and switch. Had to rip up the track and get the switch into water to wash it off. The plate underneath had started to melt so had to then take it bits to save the actuator. Fortunately not too much had got inside so it still worked when dried out but took some time to work out how to get it back together and working smoothly again. All the printing had gone from the sleepers so also had to repaint it. Moral of this story - do not treat a bare area as a convenient work surface to build kits on.


The Peruvian layout still exists although slightly neglected this year - needs a good clean and the bugs that have mysteriously appeared in the wiring sorted out. To get the feel of climbing out of Cusco and descending down to Macchu Pichu, this layout has really tight curves (approx 7.5 inch rad) and a switch back (with approx 15 deg slopes) which - like the real PeruRail - wears out the locos. These are mainly Bachmann SD-40s with some chassis detail cut away to let the bogies rotate further which then wears out the gear train whilst the slopes and rock dust from the scenery wears out the motors. Do not need sound modules as an aging Bachmann motor & geartrain grinding away sounds close to the real thing!


Got a business trip to Japan in October and so will be travelling from Kansei Airport via Shin-Osaka to Iida in Nagano and back using the Haruka Limited Express, the Tokaido Shinkansen and then the Inaji Limited Express. Have a free day on the Saturday before I return so anyone have any good ideas on trains, other than Shinkansen, to take out of Shin-Osaka? Any local freight or traction depots in view of stations within easy reach?

Very Nice Layout

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nice layout like the castle!  also can you post pics of your display case?   thats one thing i want to add to my eventual room, there will be a large layout and any extra trains that cant fit in the yard will be modeled in display cases, similar to how they do in Japanese model train stores.

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Brief update as not had that much time to post lately due to work in India and a family breavement.


Subway Hypes: Attached is an image of my display case supplied by http://www.picture-pride-displays.co.uk/ who custom build to whatever proportions you want. Front clips on and off for easy access.


Also attached are images of the dedicated room Niihama is situated in with some of the souvenirs brought back from this year's holiday in and around Hiroshima, Okayama and Osaka.












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