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Petticoat Junction: Japan Style
Posted By: Mike Cash, 01-03-2008, 05:21 AM

The Jouden Railway is a straight-line railroad covering a distance of not-all-that-much, just a hair over 25km. One end of it is in my town, and it has always remained a mystery to me how the thing manages to stay in business. I think it must be largely due to high school kids riding it to school and back who enjoy the plentiful stations along the line. It is within spitting distance of another much larger railway which parallels the Jouden Railway, and which has better facilities, rolling stock, and inter-line connectivity.

I once rode the thing just for the heck of it....just so I could say I had. And once was enough. Apparently the crew that laid the track had never heard the terms "level" or "parallel" before, as a view out the front of the train as it lurches down the line will readily reveal. Uneven spacing and what appears to be some warping is the norm for the rails.

After a very short spurt, the train comes to a stop and if you're seated you'll never guess why. Most of the railroad's "stations" are nothing more than a concrete platform next to the track. It has over 20 stops in about the same distance the other railway has about 5 or 6. Basically the thing is a bus on rails.

The engineer often gets to double up as station master and conductor on his runs, checking tickets and adjusting fares in addition to driving the train. As a cost-cutting measure even the "main" stations such as the one shown here are unmanned during the early morning and in the evenings. You have some business? Wait for a train to come in and take it up with the engineer. There's even a sign at this station telling passengers at those early and later hours to open a certain gate and let themselves in.

EDIT: I just found a nice site showing some old photos of the line. Click the first three train icons in the frame on the left to bring up the photo galleries in the main frame. Most of the photos were taken in the year Showa 60, which was 1985. (The current year 2008 is Heisei 20).




S-M-C Takumar 28/3.5


Last edited by Mike Cash; 01-03-2008 at 05:37 AM.
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01-03-2008, 07:39 AM   #2
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Nice conversion Mike and good story. I like the history lessons you give in most of your photos. 20 stops in 25 km does seem a little excessive! As for the state of the track that is interesting I would assume with that many stops and the condition of the rails - speed is not an issue - and I can fully understand school kids taking it - anything to delay the inevitable!
01-03-2008, 08:52 AM   #3
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The word 'quaint' comes to mind when I see this shot. It looks like some of the old stations we used to have in Northern Ontario. My in-laws actually used to live in and be station masters at a remote location. It was not a peaceful time visiting them as it was on the main east-west line for CNR (Canadian National Railway). Six engines pulling 120+ cars at 90 km/h makes for a lot of noise in the living room!

I like the old cushions left on the bench seats. Nice shot.
01-03-2008, 09:44 AM   #4
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Thanks for the post and the link Mike. I find certain old structures interesting.

I agree it is a very nice B/W and notice there hardly anything, if there is, in way of modern technology - it's like stepping back a few decades.

Would you translate or giv me an idea what this says:

休日の昼下がり、乗客もまばらな西桐生行き車内

From image 7 of 2005 on page 3.
Thanks

01-03-2008, 10:04 AM   #5
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Roughly: The almost empty interior of a Nishi-Kiryu bound train on a holiday afternoon.

"Holiday" could mean (and probably does mean) just a weekend day in this context.
01-03-2008, 10:25 AM   #6
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Nice composition and exposure Mike. Your angle frames the outside scene nicely as well and gives a snese of perspective. Interesting commentary.

Paul
01-03-2008, 10:40 AM   #7
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Thanks Mike

01-03-2008, 05:06 PM   #8
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Really good shot and B&W conversion. The shot really captures and old time mood. I'm waiting for a Gent to walk in with top hat n' tails. As Dave said I really like these 'portraits of Japan' you present with the pictures. Great story.
01-03-2008, 06:41 PM   #9
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Mike great job with this post. I may read back but if I get to lazy and you read this first and feel like answering. What brought you to Japan and how long have you been there? You could PM if you want to not derail your thread great shot by the way
01-04-2008, 06:04 AM   #10
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Great shot Mike, thanks for posting this. It reminded me very much of the waiting room in the old Strathcona station where I used to work. (now a fancy restaurant and bar)
01-04-2008, 06:50 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by vievetrick Quote
Mike great job with this post. I may read back but if I get to lazy and you read this first and feel like answering. What brought you to Japan and how long have you been there? You could PM if you want to not derail your thread great shot by the way
Thread drift doesn't bother me in the slightest.

On the Japan-related forums where I participate I always make it a point to not reveal how long I've been here, but I guess it will be alright here to say that I've lived here 20 of the last 24 years (84-86, 88-97, 99-now). I came as part of Uncle Sam's Navy when I was a fresh-faced innocent child of 18.
01-04-2008, 08:55 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JCSullivan Quote

休日の昼下がり、乗客もまばらな西桐生行き車内
JC

Translation... LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE.

Technically though rediculously poor translation is:

"Early afternoon of holiday, passenger spotted west Kiryu going inside of car of car."

Heavan knows what it really means though ...

Stephen
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