On the island of Hokkaido, the Kyu-shirataki train station’s last remaining patron—a student—has graduated from high school.

女子高生で話題の「旧白滝駅」に到着。ギャラリーが沢山いる。

A photo posted by K.ナガハシ (@kei.nagahashi) on

The story of a defunct train station in Hokkaido, Japan, that stayed open so that its sole patron—a teenage girl—could commute to school has come to a bittersweet end: Eighteen-year-old Kana Harada graduated from high school last Friday, March 25, and the Kyu-shirataki station—where she boarded a train every morning to travel to school, about 35 minutes away—has finally closed.

"I got on and off this train for the last three years, and this station's presence has become something I have taken for granted," Harada told Reuters in January. "I do feel sad to think it will disappear." Over this time, trains have serviced the Kyu-shirataki station just once per morning, to pick up Harada, and a few times in the afternoon to drop off passengers. Two other stations in the region, Kami-Shirataki and Shimo-Shirataki, have also recently closed due to low ridership as Japan reaches the end of its fiscal year.

People wave flags as the first train of the new Hokkaido “shinkansen,” or bullet train, travels near Kikonai Station on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. (Reuters/Kyodo)

This past weekend, Japan debuted its first-ever bullet train service to the northern island of Hokkaido, with tickets selling out fast. The train passes through the undersea Seikan tunnel, one of the longest in the world, and connects parts of Hokkaido to mainland Japan. It’s all part of the country’s plan to expand its popular network of bullet trains to the farthest corners of the country, where ski resorts and scenic landscapes make them popular tourist destinations.

Even as Japan’s high-speed rail takes the global spotlight, locals are holding on to the memories of the country’s traditional railroad system. The Kyu-shirataki station was built in the mid-1900s to help kids commute to schools, according to Business Insider. And when news spread about the station’s last student passenger, a local blogger reported that the country’s train otakus, or trainspotters, created a problem for the high-schooler when they flocked to the station to snap photos.

When a reporter for Rocket News 24 visited the station on its closing day, a handful of local residents had gathered to watch the last train pull in. They were greeted with treats from staff members and with large banners that read, “ Kyu-shirataki station, 69 years, Thank You!”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

  2. A migrant laborer rides a bicycle past a residential community in Shanghai.
    Equity

    When Affordable Housing in Shanghai Is a Bed in the Kitchen

    In this sector of the city’s informal housing rental market, as many as 24 people can be crammed into a three-bedroom apartment.

  3. A crowded street outside in Boston
    Life

    Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect

    A new study uses camera footage to track the frequency of bystander intervention in heated incidents in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.                            

  4. Design

    A Hated Expansion of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Will Go Ahead

    The city council voted to approve an addition to the historic landmark over criticism that the design is “a travesty” and “frankly grotesque.”

  5. Design

    A First-Rate Waterfront Park Is Transforming a Historic Greek City

    Thessaloniki’s New Waterfront is the centerpiece in an effort to transform the local economy, and other cities are taking notice.

×