boyhood sublimations/ Japanese trainspotters

Jonathan M Hall jmhall at
Thu Sep 11 22:37:04 EDT 2008

Brian, prompting this kind of imagination is unforgivable because  
there is no station at which to arrive: forgive me, but it's in- 
terminal-able!    Now, having jumped through the obvious truck-yaro  
films, I'm thinking about bus films--and, my!!, there have been some  
great ones:  (Yume no ginga, again Ishii Sogo, Aoyama Shinji's  
Eureka, Yamda Yoji's The Yellow Handkerchief of Happiness--- should  
Takakura Ken "stay on the bus, forget about us ..."   Car films ...   
films with pedal boats ... scooter films ... (Obitani's Stupid  
Gencahri Girl series must figure somewhere....) Roller Coasters ...  
(Janken Musume?  Family Game ...)  But where does this take us?  Is  
there a moratorium in sight? I swear off my imagination.


On 11 Sep 2008, at 19:14, Jonathan M Hall wrote:

> Trains and train stations in Japanese films?  I can't believe the  
> question is straightforward.  Is  Brian trying to seduce us into  
> watching Otomo's  Steamboy (sigh!) or perhaps inaugurate the  
> longest-running thread in KineJapan's dear history?  (Asking us  
> about which Japanese films figure Japanese characters would have  
> been just too obvious ... okay, I'm exaggerating here.)   But then  
> again, it's such a fun question for another one like me who grew up  
> with a freight train running right down the main street of my small  
> American hometown twice a day.  (It was fun to watch during the  
> daytime--and at night, as a little boy, I'd listen wistfully,  
> awfully--as in awe-filled--from my bed to the rumble that shook our  
> little city. )
> Well, here are some of my favorites:
> Wartime Train: Sanshiro Sugata's final scene--Sugata's  
> subordination to moral order is matched by his containment within a  
> train---and doesn't he even remove a piece of soot from his  
> beloved's eye ... (now this was one year before David Lean's Brief  
> Encounter---or am I confusing it with another film?)
> Postwar Golden Trains:  Nakahira's great shots of the train station  
> and platform and kiosks in Crazed Fruit  and Kurosawa's High and  
> Low (that incredible action scene) and Dodeskaden (the phantasy  
> trains that we never see, almost the inverse of Kinugasa's trains  
> that we do)  are  beaten by the beautiful sentimentality of Noriko,  
> Tomi's watch, and Kyoko's view of the train as it leaves Onomichi  
> in Tokyo Story.
> New Wave Trains: Violence at Noon gives us all kinds of trains:  
> from the shinkansen--even fear of a murderer on a train--to the  
> wild pans on a more local train as Shino and Matsuko (Koyama Akiko)  
> head to a failed double-suicide--
> Or how about the tunnel with no train ... in Kawase's Moe no  
> Suzaku ... train as transport to a differently gendered world in  
> Summer Vacation 1999
> But now I've fallen for the question ... I must wrest my mind  
> back.    I look forward to other's responses.
> Jonathan M Hall
> UC Irvine
> On 11 Sep 2008, at 18:27, Brian Ruh wrote:
>> Since reading this article [1] in the Japan Times, I've been  
>> thinking about Japanese trains. (I love things like subway cars  
>> and trains. I think it stems from growing up in a place where  
>> there wasn't anything like that.) Can anyone recommend any good  
>> Japanese films that prominently feature trains, stations, etc.?  
>> (When I try a Google search on the subject, I'm inundated with  
>> results for Densha Otoko.)
>> Any time period or genre would be great. (I particularly like the  
>> train scenes in Shinkai Makoto's "5 Centimeters Per Second" even  
>> though they're animated.) Thanks in advance!
>> [1]
>> Best,
>> Brian
>> Brian's Essential Reading:

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