Tokyobling's Blog

The Giant Tengu Head of Takao Station

Posted in Places by tokyobling on February 9, 2015

If you ever find yourself passing through or actually stopping at JR Takao station in Tokyo’s extreme western areas you might want to take a few minutes to say hello to the giant Tengu head statue (Tenguzo) that adorns platform 3 and 4! At 1.2m height this long nosed spirit of the mountain weighs in with a respectable 18 tons. and greets every train coming in from Tokyo. Some people even call it a dating spot!




Taisha Station Interiors – Shimane Prefecture

Posted in Opinion, Places by tokyobling on December 27, 2013

This is the interior of the wonderful but now disused Taisha Station in Shimane Prefecture on the northern coast of Japan. The constructions is a combination of western post and beam and Japanese finishing details and exterior roofing, giving it a strangely familiar feel. It does not feel like a typical countryside station but more like a proper waiting hall. It is easy to imagine groups of people and families gathering here to pick up relatives coming to visit over the holidays or to see of young people leaving for university or work in the big city! Take a look at the destinations list and you will see that this station was unusually well connected, there are fares to most places in western Japan and all the way to Tokyo on local train routes. It must have been an interesting journey in the time of steam powered locomotives.

Economists might also find the fare table quite interesting, as it shows us a little bit about how much inflation Japan has had in these 24 years since the table was last updated. Practically zero. This corresponds to one of the stupidest foreign language media hoaxes about Japan, the myth of “the lost decades”. I am old enough to remember back in the day when inflation was something universally detested and governments won elections on their “promises” to fight inflation. These days it is the complete opposite and governments fight to establish some sort of inflation, and they often point to the example of “the Japanese lost decades”. Here is an interesting article debunking the story. Or as my Dutch friend mentioned upon visiting Japan for the first time: “for a country two and a half decades into a recession, there sure seems to be a lot of construction going on”. Indeed.












Taisha Station Building – Shimane

Posted in Places by tokyobling on December 21, 2013

In the sleepy little town of Izumo, in western Shimane Prefecture on the north coast of Japan you’ll find one the most beautiful examples of train station architecture in Japan. The Taisha station was inaugurated in 1912 as the first stop of the JR Taisha Line. The original station was much humbler and in 1924 the present station building was completed to better reflect the important national status of the town of Izumo and the grand Izumotaisha shrine. It is said that the station was designed by a young man, Mr. Sota who was only 25 years old. The station has three tracks and two platforms that are unusually long for such a minor station, the reason being that the station had to accommodate special long distance trains all the way from Tokyo and even chartered private trains. There was a direct line to Tokyo running regularly in the 1950s, and special direct trains well into the 1980s. It must have been a very interesting, and slow, journey! In the peak of its use, 1960, the station saw about 2000 passengers a day, but it was gradually superseded by other train lines and on the last of March in 1990 the last train pulled into the station. Townspeople and visitors to the shrine shifted over to the 1930 Izumo Taishamae station about a 10 minute walk from the Taisha station (which I blogged about last year).

The station is designed in the style of a shrine and as such does not fit into any contemporary style of architecture, which makes it look absolutely timeless, coming as it did between the Japanese Neoclassical style of the Meiji Period and the Imperial Style of the 1930s. It is no wonder it was declared a national building treasure in 2004 and 2009. The building is ecologically designed using local materials of wood, clay infill, lime, glass and stone, a far cry from the energy intensive modern concrete buildings.












Yoshiwara Station – Tokaido Line

Posted in Places by tokyobling on October 23, 2013

Yoshiwara station on the Tokaido line between Tokyo Station in the east and Kobe Station in the west is a typical station for an industrial town like Fujishi. Even though the station is on one of the major railway lines of Japan the city itself is quite far from the station. It is not hard to understand why as the surroundings mostly consists of light and heavy industries, like the Nippon Paper plant in the first photo. Every time I travel somewhere in Japan I am always interested in finding out what the economical heart of the area I visit is, and in this case it is easy to find. The station itself is a treat for lovers of stark industrial landscapes. When living in Tokyo it is easy to forget that Japan is a country built on agriculture first, industry second and commerce only third, which to this day almost perfectly mirrors the social order of the old feudal country. The growers, the makers and the movers. Most people who exit this station change trains to get into the city center itself, a few stops down the line of the Gakunan Railway Line. From this station it is possible to get a really nice view of Mount Fuji, but I missed my chance by a few hours. As usual, the closer you get to the mountain the harder it seems to be to catch it!










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