Thursday, July 13, 2006  12:35 PM

Stations for ten million people

「一千万人の駅 」
Issenmannin no eki
NAGASU, Shogyo (長須祥行), F Books, Tokyo (1962)

In Japan stations are a much more integral part of the local community than they are in most Western nations. Particularly in large cities like Tokyo the station is at the centre of local life, while the main roads are often quite desolate and empty of people. Every station has its own story, and often the name's origin is quite interesting too. From the subtitle the book gives the impression it's about the station names, but goes into the stations' history in some depth. It covers JR stations (or more correctly JNR stations) in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures.

Even though this book is more than forty years old, and many of the stations described have changed beyond all recognition in the meantime, it's a valuable local history guide.