Tag Archives: News

Train runs for one kid

11 Jan

CityLab website ran this story about a train in a very rural area of Japan that makes only two stops—one when a lone high-school student leaves for school and the other when she returns.

For years, there’s only been one passenger waiting at the Kami-Shirataki train station in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Japan: A high-school girl, on her way to class. The train stops there only twice a day—once to pick up the girl and again to drop her off after the school day is over.

It sounds like a Hayao Miyazaki film. But according to CCTV News, it was a decision that Japan Railways—the group that operates the country’s railway network—made more than three years ago.

At that time, ridership at the Kami-Shirataki station had dramatically fallen because of its remote location, and freight service had ended there as well. Japan Railways was getting ready to shut the station down for good—until they noticed that it was still being used every day by the high-schooler. So they decided to keep the station open for her until she graduates. The company’s even adjusted the train’s timetable according to the girl’s schedule. The unnamed girl is expected to graduate this March, which is when the station will finally be closed.

People are tipping their hats to the Japanese government for making education a top priority. “Why should I not want to die for a country like this when the government is ready to go an extra mile just for me,” one commenter wrote on CCTV’s Facebook page. “This is the meaning of good governance penetrating right to the grassroot level. Every citizen matters. No Child left behind!”

Others, like the creator behind this YouTube video, grieve over the struggling railways of rural Japan. With the country’s record-low birthrate, aging population, and the threat of losing a third of its population by 2060, Japan faces a number of crises including a surplus of vacant housing and a shrinking workforce. The nation’s railroad system is being hit by these shifts.

The train's time-table. One train at 7:04AM and another at 5:08PM.

The train’s time-table. One train at 7:04AM and another at 5:08PM.

Japan’s impressively efficient high-speed rails have continued to expand to the outskirts of the country, rendering many of Japan’s older, low-tech railways obsolete. Kami-Shirataki station, for example, sits in the town of Engaru in the rural part of Hokkaido, which lost at least 20 rail lines in the past few decades, according to Fortune.

But if this story of a young girl and her special connection to the Kami-Shiratki station is any indicator, Japan’s disappearing rural railroads will be remembered for their service to even the most remote parts of the country.

 

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2015 in review

22 Dec

In ten days, this year will be over.  Time flies!
Google have compiled the biggest news stories for each of the past twelve months by country, according to the most popular internet searches in each country.

All links below are to related posts that I’ve written. By all means, click the links and read (and comment on) my posts!

The Biggest News Stories of 2015 in Japan:

  1. (December 2015) – Star Wars
  2. (November 2015) – Paris attack
  3. (October 2015) – Rugby World Cup / Water on Mars
  4. (September 2015) – Volkswagen emissions scandal
  5. (August 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  6. (July 2015) – Women’s Soccer World Cup
  7. (June 2015) – Japan’s Constitution change
  8. (May 2015) – Respiratory Syndrome that started in South Korea and killed 36
  9. (April 2015) – Nepal earthquake
  10. (March 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  11. (February 2015) – “The dress”
  12. (January 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
"The dress"

“The dress”

The Biggest News Stories of 2015 in America:

  1. (December 2015) – Star Wars
  2. (November 2015) – Paris attack / The Royals won the baseball World Series
  3. (October 2015) – Water on Mars
  4. (September 2015) – The Pope visited the U.S. / Volkswagen emissions scandal
  5. (August 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  6. (July 2015) – Women’s Soccer World Cup / Cecil the lion / Iran nuclear deal
  7. (June 2015) – Caitlyn Jenner
  8. (May 2015) – Mayweather vs Pacquiao boxing match
  9. (April 2015) – Nepal earthquake / Same-gender weddings legalized
  10. (March 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  11. (February 2015) – “The dress” / The Oscars awards show
  12. (January 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)

Tragedy averted!

15 Jan

An eleven-year-old Japanese girl went out alone at about 4PM last Saturday to walk her dog. Her dog returned home alone about forty-minutes later.
Of course her parents were worried sick and called the police when they couldn’t find her after two hours of searching.
The search for the child has been on the TV news since then.

But finally good news…the girl had been lost but she showed up safe at a 交番 (police “box”) about 20km from her house early this morning!

A Japanese 交番 (police box).

2013 in 98 seconds

26 Dec

Here is the biggest news stories of 2013 for those of us in Japan:

Were all of these news stories in your country? What was the biggest news of 2013 where you live?

Japanese school lunch is excellent

17 May

I wrote a post about three years ago comparing Japanese and American schools.
(Click here to read it.)

Well, the Washington Post newspaper wrote an article fairly recently about Japanese 給食 (school lunches).

lunch

The article is here.

Basically, it says that school lunches in Japanese schools are healthy and delicious.
They are like home cooked meals made with locally grown ingredients, unlike the fast-food type of lunches that I ate in schools in America.

Also, the students serve the food to each other in Japanese schools.

having raised three kids in Japan, I know that students in Japan eat proper food in school.

Father gave his life for his daughter

6 Mar

Unlike down here in Tokyo, where the weather has been very mild recently…there was a snow blizzard in northern Japan a couple of days ago.

I watched a heartbreaking story related to the storm on the television news here in Japan yesterday.

I edited an article from The Telegraph about it:

Father freezes to death protecting daughter from blizzard in Japan

A nine-year-old girl has been found weeping in her father’s arms after he froze to death sheltering her from a blizzard in northern Japan, it has emerged.

(Policemen try to dig out a vehicle in Nakashibetsu, Hokkaido (photo: AP))

 Mr. Mikio Okada died as he tried to protect his only child, Natsune, against winds of up to 109 kilometers (68 miles) per hour, as temperatures plunged to -6°C (21°F).

Mr. Okada’s body was uncovered by rescuers looking for the pair after relatives raised the alarm. Natsune was wearing her father’s jacket and was wrapped in his arms, newspapers and broadcasters said.

The pair had last been heard from at 4PM on Saturday, after Mr. Okada, a fisherman, picked his daughter up from a school where she was being looked after while he was at work.

Mr. Okada called his relatives to say his truck had become stranded in the driving snow, which was several meters deep in places. He told them he and Natsune would walk the remaining kilometer.

The two were found just 300 meters from the truck at 7 am on Sunday.

Mr. Okada was hunched over his daughter, cradling her in his arms and apparently using his body and a warehouse wall to provide shelter.

He had taken his jacket off to give to his child.

Rescuers said she was weeping weakly in his arms.

The young girl was taken to hospital where she was found to have no serious injuries. Her father was officially pronounced dead by doctors at the same institution near their home at Yubetsu in Hokkaido.

Natsune’s mother had died two years ago from an unspecified illness.

Neighbors said that Mr. Okada had been a doting father who would often delay the start of his working day to enjoy breakfast with his daughter.

His death came as families all over Japan celebrated Girls’ Day.

He reserved a cake for his only daughter and was looking forward to celebrating Girls Day together,” a neighbor told the “Yomiuri-Shinbun” newspaper.

Are dogs more humane than us?

21 Jan

In the news recently there have been stories about parents killing their own children, an American woman who let her ten-year old son get a tattoo, a nurse in Japan who enjoyed torturing her patients, a ship’s captain in Italy who abandoned the ship he crashed while his passengers were stranded on board to die, and other terrible stories about people mistreating other people who they were supposed to help and protect.

Of course, there are stories about people who act honorably too. The Italian Coast Guard officer who berated the aforementioned captain is one recent example.

But there were another two stories in the news recently too.
A dog in Australia and another one in Korea risked their own lives to save their respective families.

In Australia, a family with two daughters aged two and seven had a pet dog that loved the children.
One day last week, the two girls were in their backyard with the dog playing…but there was a very deadly Brown Snake there too!

The highly venomous Australian Brown Snake

The girls didn’t notice the snake, but the snake noticed them and it wasn’t pleased by their presence.
Just as the snake coiled to attack the girls, the dog saw the snake and didn’t hesitate to protect the girls.
The dog jumped on the snake and killed it…but not before the snake bit the dog.
The dog was rushed to the veterinarian to receive anti-venom treatment and is expected to recover…and will be get a “hero’s welcome” when he returns to his home.

The puppy in Korea was hiking with his elderly owner in the cold Korean winter last week when the old man slipped and fell.
He was knocked unconscious and would have frozen to death by the time his family found him…by his dog laid on top of him and keep him alive with his own body heat.
The young dog nearly froze to death himself to save his owner.

These dogs acted more humanly than some humans do.