KYOTO -- Cherry trees in full bloom along the old Keage Incline railway slope are attracting crowds in awe of the beautiful scenery in this western Japan city.
Keage Incline, located near Nanzen-ji Temple, is a 582-meter-long railroad laid along Lake Biwa Canal, which runs for a total length of about 30 kilometers between Japan's largest lake and Kyoto. The railway was built to carry boats and equipment next to the canal by placing them on platform cars on the track to transport them up the slope over a height difference of about 36 meters.
It was the longest inclined railway in use in the world from 1891 to 1948 and is now designated as a national historic site.
Some 90 cherry trees, including Someiyoshino and wild varieties, are planted on both sides of the slope. The spot is introduced in guidebooks and many visitors enjoy viewing the beautiful scenery from early in the morning. In recent years, more people are posting photos of the cherry blossoms and the railway slope on the photo-sharing app Instagram, and some people take commemorative photos at the site such as for weddings.
One of the tourist features is a pedestrian tunnel, which passes under the railway slope and whose diagonally piled brick inner walls look like a twisted vortex. It was designed to maintain strength by assembling bricks at right angles to the railroad tracks.
(Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Kyoto Bureau)