MasonIt isn't entirely untrue that he has come to study in Japan for an steam locomotive.No one can shut his mouth when it comes to discussing steam locomotive. And nothing else can reach his ear when he's looking at one. A 21-year-old Rikkyo University student who has fallen in love with a steam locomotive.
Is the reason of studying in Japan a steam locomotive?
Japan has a number of steam locomotives which he's been dreaming of.
21-year-old Mason is from the United States and studies Japanese at Rikkyo University. He is a huge fun of steam locomotives and has ridden on the "SL Hitoyoshi" of JR Kyushu, and the "SL Paleo Express" of Chichibu Railway. There is a number of steam locomotives exist in Japan which he's been dreaming of, and it isn't entirely untrue that he has come to study in Japan for them.
Steam locomotives are making a come back.
Steam locomotives used to be the main transportation method all over Japan but the last one, Muroran main line, Hokkaido, closed its history in December, 1975. But in response to the fans it's making a come back in various areas of Japan and now there are 14 lines running in the country. Mason is planning to take the "SL Banetsu Monogatari" this time.
The "Thomas & Friends" was the trigger.
The reason why Mason became such a fan of an steam locomotive is the "Thomas & Friends" that his parents used to read to him over and over when he was little. Ever since then he's studied the history and structure, and become even more into it.
Which steam locomotive is it that he so badly wants to see even if he has to take an overnight bus for 7.5 hours.
Mason arrives in Niigata from Shinjuku after 7.5 hours of an overnight bus ride. The "SL Banetsu Monogatari" is a very popular sightseeing steam locomotive which runs between Niigata and Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima. This is his first time so he doesn't care the long bus ride, as soon as he arrives he's immediately headed to Niigata station to meet with the "SL Banetsu Monogatari" for the first time and starts taking pictures. He doesn't seem to be able to hear what we're talking about.Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal
5-24, Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Mason carries around the hat that the crews of the Midland Railway used to wear to ride on a steam locomotive. The "SL Banetsu Monogatari" runs the longest distance in Japan which is 12 stations, 4 hours and 125km between Niigata and Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima. It is a nice feeling smelling the steam from a window as it moves forward.Niigata station
1, Hanazono, Chuo-ku, Niigata city, Niigata prefecture
The joys of a steam locomotive travel are people communication and lunch box.
After passing the Niitsu station Mason is seated with a very nice couple. He enjoys a rare lunch box that can only be purchased on the "SL Banetsu Monogatari" sharing the moment with the couple.
Why hurry at a spot where you're supposed to enjoy sightseeing?
Mason arrives in Aizuwakamatsu but visits the Tsurugajyo for sightseeing in a great hurry. Why? Apparently he is taking the same "SL Banetsu Monogatari" back to Niigata!
4 hours one-way, 8 hours round-trip
4 hours one-way, 8 hours round-trip, but this is a dream come true for a big steam locomotive fan Mason. On the way back he enjoys the autumn leaves with a matching sunset. It's gotten dark when he arrives back in Niigata. He is on an overnight bus again to return to Tokyo.Niitsu station
1, Niitsuhonmachi, Akiba-ku, Niigata city, Niigata prefecture