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2011.01.02

津軽鉄道ストーブ列車

P1014186

 2011年の初旅は津軽鉄道ストーブ列車。実は、津軽鉄道を含め、初乗りだ。

P1014073

 ストーブ列車は、津軽鉄道が毎年12月から3月にかけて運行している、旧型客車を使った観光列車だ。1両に2カ所、石炭ストーブが置かれ、昔懐かしい汽車旅を楽しめる。鉄道旅行としては基本中の基本のようなコンテンツだが、たまたま、これまで乗る機会がなかった。

 大雪によるダイヤ乱れで奥羽本線の列車が動かず、弘南バスで津軽五所川原駅にやってきたのは、11時半。前夜の「ゆく年くる年」で「年越しストーブ列車」を中継していたので、あるいはかなり込むかもしれないと思ったが、それほどでもないようだ。大型バスでやってきたツアー客が1つと、あとは家族連れがぱらぱらと。

 列車に乗り込んでみると、各ボックスが緩やかに埋まる程度で、ストーブ横の特等席を確保できた。

P1014087

 車内では、はっぴを着たおじさんがビール、日本酒、スルメ、どら焼きなどを売って歩く。スルメを購入すると、ストーブで焼いてくれるのもこの列車の名物だ。

 

P1014098

 テレビでは、いかにも地元の人が"普段からあぶってます"的な演出がされることも多いが、実際には完全に観光用。ほとんどの客が300円のスルメイカを求め、おじさんが手際よくあぶっていく。

P1014096

 スルメのお伴はビールにしよかと思ったが、ラベルに惹かれてストーブ酒を選択。なんということのない日本酒だけど、すっきりしていて飲みやすい。スルメと合わせて600円。

 同じボックスに座った男性は、ウィスキーの小瓶を持参していた。相当旅慣れている様子だったが、話してみると、鉄道メインの旅をするのは初めてなのだとか。しばらく前にキャンプでこの地域を訪れ、すっかり気に入ったので青春18きっぷを使って一人で再訪したのだという。

 さて、ストーブ列車といえば、津軽鉄道、いや青森の鉄道の看板といってもいいほどの人気コンテンツ。さぞかし、ストーブのまわりは乗客がごった返すだろう、と思っていたのだが……

P1014127

 途中の金木駅を出る頃には、ごらんの状態。ストーブが強力すぎて、近くにいると暑すぎるのだ。

P1014134

 終着・津軽中里駅までの所要時間は47分。写真だ、スルメだ、日本酒だとばたばたしているうちに着いてしまった。たっぷり楽しむなら、往復乗車したほうが良さそうだ。

P1014164

 せっかくはるばる終着駅まで来たのだし、すぐに折り返すのはもったいない。上りストーブ列車は、見送ることにした。

P1014246

 列車を見送った僕は、駅前からバスに乗った。
 ここまで来たからには、行けるところまで行ってみたい。津軽半島北部の、小泊を目指す。

P1014248

 元旦の午後の便ということもあってか、バスの乗客は僕以外ゼロ。小泊の港で降りるまで、ついに一人の乗降もなかった。

「どっから来たの? この前もそういうお客さんいたなぁ」

 サングラスをかけた運転手が、話しかけてきた。

「小泊までの運賃? そうだな、600円くらいだったかな」

 実際には、1130円であった。この路線に、あまり慣れていないのだろうか。

「ほれ、いつもはここに尾白鷲がいるんだけんど、今年はいねぇな。あの辺りからは、時々猿が降りてくる。運が良ければ、見えるかもしれね」

 やっぱり地元の人らしい。運賃をまるで把握していないのは、普段は定期客ばかりということなのかもしれない。

P1014253

 十三湖をちらりと眺め、バスに揺られること45分。

P1014272

「終点まで行ってもなんもねぇからよ。ここなら、港の前だから漁船とかみれるべ」

 運転手さんの勧めに従い、小泊漁協前で降りた。港であるせいか、津軽中里よりもかなり寒く感じる。

P1014284

 港に並ぶイカ釣り漁船を眺め、小泊の集落をぶらぶら。数少ない居酒屋は、2日からの営業らしい。銭湯「浜の湯」が営業していてかなり惹かれたが、次のバスを逃すと青森帰着が深夜になるので、あきらめた。

 40分後のバスで中里駅に戻ると、時刻は16時。早くも、薄暗くなってきた。駅の近くで開いていた、小中学生向けのおやき屋さんで時間をつぶす。

「この辺は、昔はどの店も元旦からやってたんだけどねぇ? なんでかねぇ?」

 威勢のいいお姉さんとしばらく正月談義を楽しみ、すっかり日の暮れた17時前の列車で五所川原へ。

 青森駅に戻り、駅横の食堂に入ると、ストーブ列車で同席した男性とばったり再会した。

 いろいろな人に出会った、2011年の元旦だった。

P1014319

 

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