One of the wartime and postwar mainstays of Japanese freight and dual service trains, was the D51 class 2-8-2. As a child I used to see these everywhere, along with the C11, the C57, and the C62.
This is a beautiful HD video of a June 2018 (yes this month) special. As in Britain and Germany, the Japanese love their heritage trains and every few weeks, there is always a steam special happening.
After the Earthquake and Tsunami that hit Northeastern Japan, and while the entire nation struggles to change its mood and to struggle to continue and recover, many programs were started to bring Japan, as a nation, to a more positive mood. One such way of doing this was to inaugurate the return of the famous Japanese express steam locomotive from the postwar era–the C61. In February 2011, it was brought out from its short amusement park and museum locale, to begin test runs. From March through June, the C61 began its special excursion runs to motivate Japan. The C61, was one of the express passenger locomotives, to be built during the US Occupation of Japan, when new steam locomotives were NOT ALLOWED to be built in Japan, per Occupation orders. So Japanese officials built the C61 and C62 from the bodies and parts of older freight locomotives D51 and “Pacific type” passenger locomotive C57, with some modifications to fit the speed and smoothness, as well as power necessary for pulling passenger locomotives, resulting in the Hudson type C61.
Japan’s steam locomotive designs originally began with the first imports from Great Britain. Later, it became familiar with Dutch designs but were not known for nothing other than imitations of the Pacific and Mikado locomotives, and others.
The C62 became Japan’s most internationally famous for its Hudson design, but with a few original design techniques, as well as its amalgam of Dutch, British, American and Japanese sensibilities. Today, one C62 remains in operation in short runs in a part. It ran longer excursions into the early 2000 but was retired. Japan, however, prides itself in its history and the locomotives as a part of it and will most likely run the C62 at a later time, for longer excursions. The D51, the C57, C58, and C11 locomotives, other of the most famous and representative of Japanese steam locomotive designs, are still running in many excursions and specials year-round. Stations are usually packed by fans and photographers. The Japanese public, in general, are lovers of the steam locomotive, as part of their past.
Japan’s C57 locomotives were the most widely used for passenger service for most of that country’s heyday of steam passenger service. They are the most active steam locomotives today, for excursions and special tours. Although Japan’s C62 was more famous globally, and was a faster and stronger, yet elegant machine, the C57 carried the main express and shorter services while the C62 took the faster, mountainous routes.
Here the engineer awaits the signal for departure in 2008.