boyhood sublimations/ Japanese trainspotters

Sharp Jasper jasper_sharp
Thu Sep 11 22:25:39 EDT 2008

I'll mention it before anyone else does, but if you are also talking about pink films, there's a huge swathe of films with the title Chikan Densha (Molester Train) out there - a sort of unofficial series, with the first batch directed by Yamamoto Shinya and Takita Yojiro taking over in the 80s. Might be worth a look if you want to go down that route.


Midnight Eye

Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 19:14:37 -0700
From: jmhall at
To: KineJapan at
Subject: boyhood sublimations/ Japanese trainspotters 

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 HallUC 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!
Brian's Essential Reading:


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