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Sendai Opens New East-West Subway Line
City eyes commute, travel, and convention opportunities
Sendai City will open its second subway line, the Tozai (east-west) line, on 6 December 2015. This brand new subway line will compliment the Nanboku (north-south) line which went into service in 1987.
On 22 November 2015 the city of Sendai held the Sendai Subway Tozai Line Citizen Reporter Event. It was a grand finale to the WE STAGE project, a community promotion campaign to highlight activities, events, and advertising of areas around the 13 station rail line. 500 local residents with a large number of local and prefectural press and media attended the event. Participants were able to ride the complete length of the new subway line under the agreement they were to help share and promote it on social networking sites or through other mediums.
The full day of festivities started inside the International Center Station, one of the new subway stations, shortly after 10:00. A brief opening ceremony, attended by no less than 10 local mascot charcters representing schools, organizations, and businesses, featured short speeches by City Mayor Emiko Okuyama, along with several local celebrities. The pre-registered participants were able to enjoy short performances inside or step outside to a viewing platform on the station's second floor to see a panaromic view of the downtown skyline. From the afternoon, participants took shuttle buses to Yagiyama Doubutsukoen Station, the western terminus, and boarded the subway trains according to which color wristband they were sent by mail after their registration.
In a ride that usually takes about 30 minutes, riders were treated to 90 minute adventure full of a number of special performances either inside the train cars or out on the platforms of many of the Tozai line's station platforms. Highlights include suzumi-odori (a popular local traditional dance), a fashion show which used the aisle inside the train as a stage, and a special performance by the Date Bushotai, tourism ambassadors straight out of Japan's feudal period. At Rokuchonome Station, riders were given bags of fresh local produce to bring home. As participants arrived at the Arai Station, the eastern terminus, they were given free imoni (a local potato stew) and could shop at a farmers market. Optional tours and experiences were availiable for those that signed up in advance. Return trip was via shuttle bus service back to Sendai Station or subway trains back to the International Center where events were held until the early evening.
The new subway line has all the modern conveniences one would expect, such as a barrier free experiece with elevators at every station, mutlilingual television monitors inside the train cars to tell which station is next and where its restrooms, escalators, etc. are located, and an overall safe and smooth ride with friendly staff. For a few brief moments along subway line, the train emerges from underground to provide an outside view, most notably while speeding over the picturesque Hirose River.
The subway will benefit locals commuting and moving around the city. From a traveler's perspective, easy access to Sendai Castle is an alternative to the often used Lopple Sendai sightseeing bus. Also, going to Yagiyama Zoo or stopping by to study at Tohoku University's Kawauchi Campus by public transportation has become hassle-free. The city has high hopes to utilize its new convention center completed in March 2015, as it will now be accessible in just a 4 minute ride from JR Sendai Station.