Monday, April 18, 2011

Sanriku Railway and Kenji Miyazawa

At Kongou-ji Temple, one of the shelters in Iwate Prefecture, disaster victims enjoyed the cherry blossoms on 18th. Even in the afflicted areas, the cherry trees surrounded by the wreckageare are almost in full bloom. Many afflicted people lack the emotional capacity to enjoy the cherry blossoms.

The Sanriku Railway (三陸鉄道, Sanriku Tetsudo(Japanese version only)) which has the North Rias Line and the South Rias Line extends along the Sanriku Coast. Although the Sanriku Railway train has partially resumed, there are no prospects for reopening of the entire lines.
The Iwate Galaxy Railway(いわて銀河鉄道) is different from the Sanriku Railway. Iwate Galaxy Railway Line runs from Morioka Station to Metoki Station.

Tanohata Station(田野畑駅) and Shimanokoshi Station(島越駅) on North Rias Line belong to Tanohata Village. Shimanokoshi Station was like a Mediterranean house, but it disappeared due to tsunami on March 11th.

Tanohata and Shimanokoshi Stations get the nicknames of "Campanella Tanohata" and "Carbonado Shimanokoshi". Their nicknames were named after a character and an island volcano from the works of Kenji Miyazawa(宮沢 賢治, 1896-1933) who was a poet and a children's literature author from Iwate Prefecture.

Campanella appears in "Ginga Tetsudo no Yoru(銀河鉄道の夜, Night on the Galactic Railroad or Night on the Milky Way Train)" that has already been published and translated in many countries.
Although it is very difficult to visualize his works, this story was made into an animated movie in 1985. It is an excellent work, but featuring animal characters is somewhat misleading.
Now, we can see this story named The Celestial Railroad at planetariums in Japan.
Here's the English version of its movie trailer.

The main character Giovanni has after-school and before-school jobs because his father, a fisherman, is not coming back from the sea. His mother is ill in bed. His classmates tease him about his father. Campanella is a close friend of Giovanni.

He is in solitude on the hill. The next moment, he finds himself inside the Milky Way Train with Campanella. The train travels from Northern Cross to Southern Cross. During their travels, they see fantastic sights and meet various people.

A young man with a boy and a girl gets on their train.  He tells the boy and girl, "We're going to heaven. We'll never experience a feeling of fear. We are called to heaven."

He tells the two,"We'll no longer experience saddness. We can make such a fascinating journey, and we're going to be with God. There, all the people are so nice. People who could take to the boats instead of us should be able to return home where their parents are waiting for them anxiously. We are almost there. Cheer up! "

He tells that he is their tutor and they were aboard a cruise ship that sank after it hit an iceberg.
"Not all passengers were able to take to the boats.  I made a frantic effort to put them in a boat, but I saw many younger children and their parents standing in front of the boat.  I should have thrust them out of my way even if I committed a sin against God. But, for the soul of me I couldn't do that.
Parents put their children to the boat with only children. A mother blew a kiss to her child. A father stood carrying his cross. The ship was sinking. I steeled myself. I braced for sinking with the two children in my arms. I heard people singing a hymn. Then we fell into the sea and I became unconscious. The next thing I knew I found myself inside this train. I'm sure the boats were saved."

A lighthouse keeper comforts him by saying that a road to happiness includes the steep hill.

The train arrives at the Southern Cross and All the passengers except Giovanni and Campanella get off the train.

Giovanni says to Campanella, "Campanella, we are alone again.  Let's go together forever. I'm willing to be burned like a scorpion for everyone's happiness."
Campanella answered with tears in his eyes, "Me, too."
Giovanni says, "But what is true happiness for everyone?"
Campanella answered in a vacant voice, "I don't know."
Giovanni says, "I'm not afraid of darkness anymore. I'll go in quest of true happiness for everyone. Let's go together forever."
"We sure will. Oh, that field is so beautiful! People are gathering on the field. That place must be the heaven. That person over there is my mother."
Giovanni looks back at Campanella, saying "Campanella, let's go together." However, he is not there.

The next moment, Giovanni finds himself lying on the hill. Giovanni learns in the town that Campanella went missing after saving a classmate from drowning in the river. Giovanni meets Campanella's father at the riverside. He tells Giovanni that he got a letter telling the return of Giovanni's father. Giovanni returns to his mother.

Carbonado appears in "Gusuko Budori no Denki (グスコーブドリの伝記, A Biography of Gusuko Budori)". 
Gusuko Budori is a woodcutter's son born in Ihatov Wood. Famine due to cold summer damage causes the breakup of his family. He is forced to drift from job to job due to drought or a volcanic eruption.

He comes to work in the bureau of volcano as an engineer. He succeeds in minimizing damage from volcanic eruptions and fertilizing the fields of Ihatov with manure by using artificial rain. He is reunited with his sister. She has a son. He hears of his father's fate and raises a tomb for his father.

Ihatov is hit by the cold weather again. He studies methods of protecting people from cold-weather damage. He intends to emit carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming by triggering artificial volcanic eruption. But to do that, someone can't come back from Carbonado volcano alive. He does it by himself and stops cold-weather damage.

The Tohoku Region had been wracked by famine due to cold summer damage a number of times in the past. Kenji witnessed farmers suffering from famine. He graduated from an agricultural college in Morioka(now Faculty of Agriculture, Iwate University).

"Ihatov" means Iwate.
The tidal power plant that appears in this story became a reality. The first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) started operation in 1966.

The members of volunteer fire companies close the dikes, persuade people to evacuate over the community wireless system and help with the evacuations. So many of them were engulfed by tsunami. I heard seven of 14 deaths in Tanohata Village were the members of a volunteer fire company. (About 20 people are still missing there.)

A newspaper columnist said that Gusuko Budori came to his mind when he thought of the workers in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. He also said the workers didn't have to be Gusuko Budori.

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