JRE seriesE257 type500 LimitedExpressAyame.jpg
An E257-500 series on an Ayame service in June 2012
Service typeLimited express
LocaleKanto region, Japan
First service10 March 1975
Last service13 March 2015
Former operator(s)
Kashima-Jingu or Chōshi
Service frequency2 return workings daily
Line(s) usedSobu Main Line, Narita Line
On-board services
Class(es)Ordinary class only
Seating arrangementsUnidirectional 2+2
Rolling stockE257-500 series EMUs
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification1,500 V DC overhead
Operating speed130 km/h (80 mph)[1]

The Ayame (あやめ, "iris") was a limited express train operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Tokyo, Kashima-Jingu and Chōshi via Sawara.[2] First introduced in 1975, the last service ran on 13 March 2015.


The Ayame service was first introduced on 10 March 1975,[3] initially as four return workings daily between Tokyo and Kashima-Jingu.[4]

The late 1980s saw increased competition from long-distance bus services between Tokyo and Kashima, and from the July 1993 timetable revision, the number of Ayame services was reduced to three return workings daily.[4] In December 1994, services were further cut back, with just one up service in the morning and one down service in the evening.[4] From the October 2004 timetable revision, the complementary Suigō limited express (Shinjuku to Chōshi via Narita Line) and Hometown Narita services were discontinued and the number of Ayame services was correspondingly increased to four up and two down services daily.[4] From the start of the revised timetable on 10 December 2005, Ayame services were made entirely no-smoking.[5]

By March 2014, there were two return Ayame workings daily: one return working between Tokyo and Kashima-Jingu, and one between Tokyo and Chōshi. The services operated as all-stations "Local" services between Sawara and Kashima-Jingu or Chōshi.[2] The down Ayame 3 service from Tokyo to Choshi operated coupled to the weekdays-only Shiosai 17 service (to Narutō) as far as Sakura, where the trains divided.[2]

From the start of the 14 March 2015 timetable revision, the remaining Ayame services were discontinued due to low ridership amid competition by bus services, despite the fact that its scheduled travel time between Tokyo and Kashima-Jingu was only one hour and 43 minutes, about 40 minutes faster than bus schedules.[6]

Rolling stock

A 183 series EMU on an Ayame service in 2005
A 183 series EMU on an Ayame service in 2005


Trains were formed as shown below, with car 1 at the Tokyo end. All cars were ordinary class and non-reserved.[2][7]

Car No. 1 2 3 4 5
Numbering KuHa E256-500 MoHa E257-1500 MoHa E256-500 MoHa E257-500 KuHa E257-500
Accommodation Non-reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved Non-reserved
Facilities   Toilet Toilet   Toilet

See also


  1. ^ JR新幹線&特急列車ファイル [JR Shinkansen & Limited Express Train File] (in Japanese). Japan: Kōtsū Shimbun. 2008. p. 64. ISBN 978-4-330-00608-6.
  2. ^ a b c d JR時刻表 [JR Timetable] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. March 2014. pp. 86–87.
  3. ^ 列車名鑑1995 [Train Name Directory 1995]. Japan: Railway Journal. August 1995.
  4. ^ a b c d JR特急列車年鑑2013 [Limited Express Annual 2013] (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Ikaros Publications Ltd. 20 December 2012. p. 166. ISBN 978-4-86320-654-0.
  5. ^ JR East press release: "2005年12月ダイヤ改正について" (30 September 2005). Retrieved on 3 September. (in Japanese)
  6. ^ 特急「あやめ」40年の歴史に幕 バス競合で低迷 [Limited express "Ayame" discontinued after 40 years - struggling against bus competition]. Sankei News (in Japanese). The Sankei Shimbun & Sankei Digital. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  7. ^ JR電車編成表 2014夏 [JR EMU Formations - Summer 2014] (in Japanese). Japan: Kotsu Shimbunsha. 30 May 2014. p. 51. ISBN 978-4-330-46614-9.