A third Olympus Pen photo today. It’s either this or finishing the second chapter of The Halifax Explosion.
This is Yamanokuchi Station. Yamanokuchi was one of the small towns that were amalgamated into the the city now known as Miyakonojo. Like most places with a heavy car culture, Japan’s public transportation has declined over the last few decades. Add to that an elderly population that rarely leaves their neighborhood, it’s surprising that they even bothered to leave these stations here. Most, if not all, of Kyushu’s rail system runs on a single track. Only the Kagoshima to Fukuoka then Honshu route seems to have double lines.
Yamanokuchi is pretty small, but this is not a country station. You can tell those because they’re a platform standing in front of a rice paddy. This station used to be busy enough to have a staff. Now all that exists is the ticket machine you see to the right. You’d think the building would be a good spot to wait for the train out of the rain but I think you can see the water on the floor yourself. The train conductor is the one to collect the tickets at these abandoned stations.
Miyazaki-Ken did have the problem of being somewhat isolated from the rest of Kyushu due to steep mountains and active volcanoes. And with it being off the shipping routes, not having an industry in much of anything, it was mostly ignored by the to and fro of Japanese history. That a single rail line and single expressway serves as a link to the rest of the nation isn’t surprising.
A few months before I left Japan, I was in the Yodobashi in Osaka buying a camera. The clerk was trying to get me to get their point card and I told her no thanks because I was going to leave Japan soon. She asked me where I was living in Japan so I told her Miyazaki-Ken. She paused in thought for a second as she consulted her mental map of Japan.
"Umm… Is that in Kyushu?"
The thing about the rail line is that the route between Miyakonojo and Miyazaki had regular service. A train of some sort left at least twice an hour. Four or five during rush hour. The route between Kagoshima and Miyakonojo (Miyakonojo being the midway point between the two cities) ran once an hour. If you lived between Miyakonojo and Kagoshima, you had a long wait if you missed your train.
At least they weren’t those poor bastards living in Ebino.