The most delicious daily commute in the world.
Train rides are always fun and give a sense of adventure along with the opportunity of sightseeing. That is exactly how the Amaterasu Railway in Japan makes one feel. It’s a 30-minute ride and provides passengers with some of the most beautiful views in Miyazaki Prefecture, including Japan's highest train bridge. However, the train also has some other features that make it unlike any other. While the white and pink-colored cars and the train conductors blowing bubbles along the ride are some fun touches, the most interesting aspect of the train is that it runs on a type of biodiesel fuel that is made from delicacies like leftover ramen broth. According to My Modern Met, thanks to the ramen broth, the train leaves a delicious aroma in the air and is less harmful to the mountains and rice fields it crosses.
Biodiesel is the fuel that is made for diesel engines using vegetable oil or animal fat and is an alternative to fossil fuels. In the U.S. and Europe, biodiesel is produced with vegetable oil from rapeseed, canola, or soybeans. Meanwhile, the Japanese use waste cooking oil and even food leftovers.
The Takachiho Amaterasu Railway, a roofless train that takes tourists along a scenic route in Miyazaki, now runs on biodiesel made from leftover tonkotsu ramen broth. Riders report the exhaust smells like fried rice.— Spoon & Tamago (@Johnny_suputama) November 21, 2022
90% of the biodiesel used by Amaterasu Railway reportedly originates from tempura oil and other cooking oils. The remaining 10% is from tonkotsu ramen broth. The railway partnered with Nishida Logistics, a transportation company that pioneered a handful of biodiesel types for its truck fleet, to develop its fuel. The company sources ramen broth from local restaurants and converts the fatty broth into biodiesel by separating lard from leftover pork bone soup and then refining it using a special method. The only disadvantage of this sort of biodiesel is that it can be stored only for a couple of months before oxidation starts to affect it.
It is said that the railway company became interested in biofuel as an environment-friendly initiative. The first test runs were conducted in mid-June 2021 and it was determined that there was no black smoke or strong smell of exhaust gas, which is typically common with diesel engines. The fuel powered the train even on an uphill stretch. The train has two wagons and can easily carry up to 60 people. Although there is a need to replace the fuel filters regularly, the cost is reportedly about the same as conventional fuel. When the engines with new fuel set off on August 1, 2022, the platform was filled with the smell of stir-fried oil. Naoki Akimoto, 38, an office worker from Osaka Prefecture who visited the place with his family, was impressed. "It's amazing that a sightseeing train can run on ramen soup," he told The Mainichi.
In other news, despite Coronavirus cases increasing in Japan, planes and trains were flooded with people in December 2022 ahead of the New Year holidays. "In spite of the coronavirus pandemic, I'm glad there is a feeling in the air that makes it easier to travel and go back to one's hometown," 74-year-old Saitama resident, Misako Aoki, told Japan Times.
Reportedly, the reservations for domestic flights have recovered to 80% of what it was three years ago. More than 2.7 million people reserved flights. Also, the reservations for shinkansen bullet trains and local trains from December 28 to January 5 have increased by 16% compared to the last year.