Hokkaido town to restore ‘Ken-san’ station for tourists
ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido (The Japan News/ANN) - The town intends to start the restoration work in April
Although Mashike Station on the JR Rumoi Line in Hokkaido was closed in December 2016, the local town government of Mashike plans to restore the building to the state it was in when used as a location for the 1981 movie “Eki” (Station, below) starring Ken Takakura, and preserve it as a tourist attraction.
The town intends to start the restoration work as early as fiscal 2017, which begins in April.
Mashike Station was a wooden building when the operation of the railway started in 1921. One of the station’s main features was the eaves stretching about 30 metres in a beeline from the ticket gate to the platform. In the film, the station was used in the scenes symbolizing the meetings and separations of men and women.
After the film was released, the station became known nationwide. But following the station shifting to unattended operation in 1984, half of the entire facility near the platform was removed, which has diminished the good memories of the past building.
Until the 1950s, the station was used by commuters and served as a base for distribution in the town, which flourished on herring fishing. In recent years, however, the number of passengers continued to decline. In August 2015, Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido) announced its intention to shut down the Rumoi-Mashike section on the line mainly due to its chronic deficits.
JR Hokkaido closed the station in December last year on condition of the transfer of its ownership to the town for free and the payment of ¥130 million to the Mashike government as support money for improving areas around the station, as the town had been concerned about the negative impact of the station’s closure on local tourism.
The town intends to make use of the restored station building as a bus terminal and a community center.
The station has been popular among railroad fans as “the farthest terminal.”
Mashike Mayor Masashi Hori said, “The railway section was decommissioned, but we’d like to keep the station as featured in the film and as a symbol of the town history to attract many tourists.”
With Mashike, Hokkaido, as one of the main locations, the film directed by Yasuo Furuhata depicted a human drama mainly featuring a detective (Ken Takakura) and a woman working at an izakaya pub.
The script was written by playwright So Kuramoto, who lives in Furano, Hokkaido, and is well known for the TV drama “Kita no Kuni kara.” It is said that Kuramoto wrote it for Takakura and gave it to the actor on his birthday. The film won the best film, best actor and best original screenplay awards at the Japan Academy Film Prize in 1982, as well as other awards.