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Elusive Shinkansen test train races past field of sunflowers

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Doctor Yellow Shinkansen test train runs beside a field of matching yellow sunflowers in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture.

In recent years, about 140,000 large sunflowers have filled idled farmland in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, during the summer. On Aug. 5, railfans got the chance to snap photos of Doctor Yellow, a Tokaido Shinkansen test train, as it shot by on the tracks behind the field and created a stunning display of complementary yellows.

The train is called the “Shinkansen doctor” due to its role in testing the tracks and overhead wires to ensure that they are in proper working order for Shinkansen passenger trains. Sightings of the train are rare, and those who manage to catch a glimpse of it are said to be blessed with good fortune.

Local farmers began planting sunflowers in the 3.2-hectare field to put to use what had been fallow land. The tradition was suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic but returned this year for the first time since 2019.