The River Crossing Scene

This scene depicts a residential/light-commercial/light-industrial area (Tōkyō often mixes them) nestled beside the elevated right-of-way of a four-track mainline, with bridges across a large river. Though not based on any specific prototype, the river is loosely based on the Sumida river near where the Chūō-Sōbu line crosses, and the bridges mirror some further upstream, where the Jōban line crosses it. And this kind of neighborhood is typical of many within Tōkyō's 23 wards.

Note: photo credits for the backdrop photos can be found on the Backdrop Scenery reference images page, and details on how I made them can be found on the Making Backdrops page in the Making Things subsection of this section.

I have a page focusing on the individual buildings of the village area of this scene, as well as a photo album of Village photos.

River Crossing Backdrop 2.0 - wide 3803

The original plan for this area was simply flat, with buildings on the same level as track, all well above the river. As construction proceeded, the village was re-arranged and dropped down to rest inside the tracks at a more reasonable elevation. The foamcore highway bridge is just a placeholder to show where the commercial avenue from the Urban Station scene will cross the river, before disappearing under the tracks at the back of this scene. Most of the buildings are by Kato, with a couple by Tomix including the gas station, plus a Bachman hamburger stand that was later re-labelled as a bicycle shop. Exact placement of the buildings hasn’t been settled yet, and the gray foam will ultimately be covered with styrene to form streets and sidewalks. I did however finally get ground cover in place:

Village Scenery 3842

The buildings are just placed on gray-painted foam for now, with plans for eventual detailing of streets and sidewalks.

River Crossing Village III

Here, a Chūō line E233 commuter train passes the village on the commuter line, heading towards the Riverside Station scene, before ground cover was added.

Substation I 3888

One later addition was a detailed and painted version of a Tomix electrical substation (seen here before the roof tarpaper was added). This had interior detail and lighting. The gray box on the left is a transformer casting I found in a local hobby store and added.

Below, the opposite bank of the river begins to take shape. The expressway is temporary, made from foam-core and construction paper as a placeholder until I can build a real model. It’s held up by a plywood base (that will be hidden with the final version) supported by 1/4” threaded rod inside 1” PVC pipe to represent concrete pylons. The hillside below it will contain a park (left) and the commercial Avenue winding its way from the bridge up past the buildings, and then down to their left into the Urban Station scene.

Riverside - June 2010 III

Below is a view of the hilltop park and the subway tunnel roof, underneath the expressway. The track of the Urban Station can just be seen in the foreground, although it’s not connected to the bridges at present (they keep getting taken up for scenery work).

Temp Expwy End 2203

Below is a slightly older photo. A sixteen-car Series 500 “Nozomi” Shinkansen goes for a run around the curve, back before the expressway was added. It’s a short trip, since the blue bridge in the back doesn’t connect to anything yet, but it gives a feel for how well the longest train I have (or am likely to have) fits into the scene. It’s really a bit too long, as it’s still in the viaduct station (left, foreground) as the other end is at the bridge across the river, but not outrageously so. The pair of outer loop tracks are completed now, and trains can run around on either DC or DCC power (the track serves as my test and run-in tracks, each with its own Kato power pack, for DC models before they get converted to DCC).

Series 500 on River Crossing

Below is my first use of a blown-up photograph for the scenic backdrop. I’d tested this earlier, and finally added it as a permanent fixture. I think it adds a real sense of depth that’s missing from the earlier photos above. Unfortunately the technique I used (spray glue and individual letter-size paper prints from a laser printer) didn’t last, and the paper began to peel within 6 months; I eventually replaced this backdrop using the photo enlargement method I used for the other backdrops, and the result can be seen in the image at the top of the page.

Final Photo Backdrop I

And here’s the view from the other side: note how the perspective changes for the street in the photo relative to the three-dimensional scenery.

Final Photo Backdrop II

A future addition to the river will be a model of the Himiko (prototype photo), a “water bus” designed by comic artist Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Space Battleship Yamamoto and Captain Harlock, among other works. It’s a very complex model to paint, so it may be some time before I get around to it, but it will make an interesting addition. I may create some kind of dock to go with it. The photo below shows the unpainted (and not glued) body alongside my most recent mock-up of the buildings for the Village area.