Opening Shinkansen and Commuter Train Production to the Public at Hitachi's Kasado Works

The N700S Series Shinkansen that was displayed at Kasado Works

On May 13, Hitachi, Ltd.'s Kasado Works in Kudamatsu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, which designs and manufactures rolling stock, such as Shinkansen trains (aka bullet trains) and commuter trains, held "Hitachi Open Day 2023" event. About 3,800 people, mainly parents and children from the surrounding area and railroad fans, visited the plant to see the manufacturing site, which is usually closed to the public.

Displaying a restored Shinkansen train at Hitachi KASADO MUSEUM

Kasado Works, Hitachi, Ltd.

Kasado Works, covering an area of 520,000 square meters, was established in 1921 and is a design and manufacturing plant for rolling stock to be used in both the Japanese and international markets. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, this was the first time in five years that Kasado Works held an open-house event.

The 500 Series Shinkansen train at Hitachi KASADO MUSEUM

A popular attraction at this year's event was the newly constructed Hitachi KASADO MUSEUM. On display at the museum is a restored rolling stock of the 500 Series Shinkansen train that was manufactured at the plant and shipped from 1996 to 1998 and which achieved Japan's first commercial operation at a maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour. Visitors can enter the rolling stock and feel nostalgic for that time period with its distinctive purple seats and luggage storage next to the seats.

Interior of the 500 Series Shinkansen rolling stock

The museum also features a hammering test, in which visitors can confirm that bolts fastened to the rolling stock are properly tightened by tapping the bolts with a hammer and listening for differences in sound, and a corner where visitors can actually get on the aluminum material used for the exterior walls of the rolling stocks to experience the material's strength. Visitors had fun taking pictures and touching the rolling stock on display.

Experiencing a train production worksite

The EMU3000 fast train, which will run between cities in Taiwan, being assembled

Moreover, the site where rolling stocks are manufactured was also open to the public during the event. Many visitors were able to see rolling stocks in the process of being assembled, such as a skeleton rolling stock with no seats attached and a rolling stock without a bogie—all something which the general public would normally not see.

Workers at the manufacturing site are now trying to use recycled materials and materials that are made without emissions of carbon dioxide for rolling stock. The plant itself is also working toward becoming carbon neutral, and Hiromitsu Nagarekawa, Division Manager of the Rolling Stock Manufacturing Division, commented: “Our mission is to realize carbon neutrality through new technologies.”

Opening the plant up again so as to pass on history

Mitsuo Iwasaki, General Manager of Kasado Works, during the interview

Kaito Wakayama, a sixth grader from Shunan City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, who visited Kasado Works for the first time, said with his eyes lighting up: "I never thought I would be able to see a train this close. It was fun to see the trains from a different perspective than when I am at the station."

Mitsuo Iwasaki, General Manager of Kasado Works, who was born and raised in Kudamatsu City where Kasado Works is located, recalls his childhood memories of the plant: "The plant was surrounded by a wall, so from the outside I couldn't see what was going on."

About his thoughts on the opening of the plant to the general public, he added: "Seeing the joy in the eyes of the children who visited the event at the plant and saw the manufacturing worksite and rolling stock made me realize the importance of opening our plants to the public. Hopefully, the event provides an opportunity for children to become involved in the rail business in the future.”

For more than 100 years, Kasado Works has supported people's mobility through the manufacture of rolling stock. Iwasaki intends to regularly plan open-house events at the plant and to open Hitachi KASADO MUSEUM to local residents and customers. He is determined to "pass on the history of manufacturing into the future.”

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