Tokyobling's Blog

Countryside Trains – Ichibata Taishasen

Posted in Opinion, Places by tokyobling on July 22, 2012

It’s summer again and that means the season for discovering very local countryside train lines! Here’s the Ichibata Taishasen (一畑電車大社線) running between Izumotaishamae and Kawato stations (出雲大社前駅-川跡駅). This line is actually just an off-shoot on the main Kita Matsue line that is very rural even in itself. This train and the terminus pictured here is famous for being the station closest to the famous Izumo Taisha. There used to be a line dedicated just to service the town of Izumo with a connection to Matsue City, the capital of Shimane Prefecture, the Taisha Line but it was cancelled in 1990, even before the end of the bubble economy. Still, the areas close to the main cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama) have fared better but it is still amazing to see how robustly the Japanese countryside has managed to withstand the death sentence meted out to most rural areas in North America and Europe. But I fear even the Japanese countryside will succumb to the final death blow with this TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). Once Japan signs the agreement the last lifeline of the Japanese rural economy, the domestic market, will implode and that will be the end of all these cities and towns spread out over the country. If you will allow me to be political for a moment here, it is my opinion that the TPP is an even great threat to Japan than earthquakes and nuclear accidents. Once the agricultural sector is left defenseless from cheap imports there will be no reason to farm in Japan anymore, and with that the supporting businesses and civil society built around the farms will collapse. Many people fail to realize that Japan is essentially an agricultural society. You don’t need to venture far out from the cities to enter a countryside that in essence has remained the same for the last two to three thousand years. However, the TPP can still be stopped and I urge anyone with voting rights in the concerned countries to vote only for parties that are fundamentally opposed to the agreement.

Traveling around Japan I often meet idealistic young farmers who are putting their livelihoods on the line to keep the countryside of Japan alive but there is absolutely no chance of them being able to stand in the face of the TPP. And with them the rural train lines, like this one.

12 Responses

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  1. C said, on July 22, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Amazingly spotless trains…are there still issues with power shortages (i.e. are the trains air conditioned)? I can feel the humidity an ocean away from these pics!

    As for TPP, the Wikipedia entry indicates that Japan is still only an observer. Given the priority for small farms, they’ll probably be like Norway and not participate in such a scheme. And given the complexity of other issues in my country, I probably wouldn’t vote for a party based solely on TPP anyway. Will remain hopeful that rural areas remain at least stable, tho!


    • tokyobling said, on July 22, 2012 at 8:39 am

      Since they started up the nuclear power plant there hasn’t been any talk about shortages so I guess we are good for this summer! It’s very hot and humid though! (^-^;) Washington is trying to get Japan to join in on the TPP thing and I fear for their strength to resist! Hopefully they are able to say no.


  2. kaori said, on July 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Wonderful photos. This kind of rural everyday life you captured so well is one of the things I love most about Japan. I really don’t want it to disappear.

    I fear for TPP’s outcome too and I’m really praying that Japan won’t cave in to signing it. Thank you for spreading the info!


    • tokyobling said, on July 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Thank you Kaori! And I am happy to have found someone that have realized how dangerous this TPP really is. I’ll keep spreading the info here on my end! (^-^)/


  3. Todor said, on July 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing these images. Really like the atmosphere and the lighting.


    • tokyobling said, on July 26, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Thank you for the kind comment Todor! (^-^)/


  4. pk1154 said, on July 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    The is some balance that must take place before ‘free trade’ can be ‘fair trade’ rather than a race to the bottom for everyone. Beyond that, there are national as well as cultural security issues. Preservation of arable land and agriculture in Japan would qualify as a matter of security either way. Heavy issues to get into.

    Perhaps the local food movement and farm-to-table co-ops will be more than the latest food fad.


    • tokyobling said, on July 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Somethings are excellent to have a good trade balance in, sustainable manufacturing, certain goods, information and entertainment for example! Others are linked to our security as you say. I fear that the technocrats might see the value in protecting arable land but not the value in the chain of generations who have learned how to best use this land. Once you break it, it will be almost impossible to recreate. I’ve seen it in my country of birth already and I sure don’t want to see it here.


      • C said, on July 28, 2012 at 3:52 am

        The locavore and slow food movements are slowly but surely picking up steam. Farmers Markets are getting so crowded in the summer that it’s clear (at least on the west coast US) that there is a longing for a return to our roots. So we’ll see…


      • pk1154 said, on July 28, 2012 at 10:51 am

        If it wasn’t for trade in entertainment, it would be harder to stick to my current exercise routine:
        Japanese anime while I treadmill.
        Korean live action drama while I lift weights and do floor exercises



        • tokyobling said, on August 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

          Haha… I sure hope you can concentrate enough on your training! (^-^;)


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