Sounds and Scenery: Camera shutters clack, capturing snow-plow train car

Railroad fans gathering from all over Japan to photograph the JR Soya Line snow-plow train approaching a curb

Tracing a curved path through the snow, a red snow-plow train car emerges from amidst the trees together with the sound of a steam whistle. Light mechanical noises instantaneously chime all together, both clacking and clicking. This sound, like the wing flapping of a swarm of birds or insects, lasted for about ten seconds and then ceased right as the train passed by.

JR Soya Line flows along the gentle valley area of Teshio River in the northern part of Northern Hokkaido’s Nayoro City. On a bridge looking over both the river and the rail line, on some days as many as nearly 50 people gather at a bit after noontime when the snow-plow train car passes by. The “noise that sounds like wings flapping” is the short camera shutter concert performed by the cameras of the people gathered there.

Partially due to the fact that JR Hokkaido announced the release of a new train, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of fans coming to photograph this snow-plow train car. Along with the sound of the steam whistle and the train engine, the sound of camera shutters can be heard at various areas along the rail line.

A male Tokyo company employee who comes to Hokkaido four times every winter, for a total of about 20 days, explained how amazing snow-plow train car photography can be, “Depending on changing factors like the snow quality and train speed, the majestic form of the train gives a totally different atmosphere every time. I never tire of it, no matter how many times I see it.”


Nayoro City