By AKIHITO USUI/ Staff Writer
May 28, 2020 at 07:00 JST
TSUSHIMA, Aichi Prefecture--Rail buffs are familiar with the name Yoshihito Tanaka, or at least they should be.
Tanaka has spent most of his life around railroads and shows no signs of slowing down as a hard-core rail fanatic.
A former engineer at Nagoya Railroad Co. (Meitetsu), Tanaka opened a website when he retired 10 years ago to share railway photos he has taken over the past 50 years.
The website gained several thousand page views soon after it opened. The number has now reached 1.66 million.
The 69-year-old has also published two books on Meitetsu and serves as an instructor for a railroad class.
Tanaka had been in charge of train car maintenance since he joined Meitetsu in 1974. He reached the mandatory retirement age when he was chief of an inspection yard. He later worked at the Meitetsu Shiryokan museum in Kani, Gifu Prefecture, for five years.
When he opened his website, called Tsushima Keibendo Shashinkan, in 2010, Tanaka uploaded 5,000 of 20,000 black-and-white and color photos he had taken after he joined a college railfan club in 1969. The site also includes travel reports and maps.
Tanaka initially took pictures of steam locomotives operated by the former Japanese National Railways and Nagoya City Tram streetcars in Aichi Prefecture. He eventually traveled frequently across the country to take railway photos.
Many pictures on the website are of local railways because Tanaka is fascinated by the shapes and colors of the train cars, as well as the backgrounds.
He said he has a particular interest in light railways, such as the Utsube-Hachioji and Hokusei lines, both of which are operated in Mie Prefecture.
Other railroads featured include: the former Kamioka Railroad and Meitetsu’s now-defunct Tanigumi Line, both in Gifu Prefecture; Anbo Forest Railway that transports lumber in Kagoshima Prefecture; and a trolley used to move coal at the Takashima Coal Mine in Nagasaki Prefecture.
Tanaka’s site also shows freight lines operated by cement and chemical companies, cable car systems for tourism, and even a simple railway system owned by a person.
Including pictures taken by Tanaka’s fellow rail buffs, the website currently has 6,000 photos of about 190 lines, giving visitors a chance to see now-retired steam and diesel locomotives and now-defunct railway lines in their prime.
Last year, Tanaka published “Nagoya Tetsudo Sharyoshi” with a former colleague. The book, which was released in two volumes, looks back on the history of Meitetsu founded more than 120 years ago.
“This is a reference book that can be passed down to future generations,” Tanaka said. “You can learn everything about Meitetsu.”
The Tsushima city government asked Tanaka to instruct a class on railroads. He still receives inquiries about railway history.
“As I look back, it was so fun to visit unfamiliar places and see various railroads when there was no internet,” Tanaka said. “Railroads are valuable. I hope many visitors can share the greatness of railroads through my website.”
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