Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mysterious Legend on the Gakunan Railway


Classic EMU Gakunan 8000 series (ex-Keio 3000 series) at Gakunan-Enoo Station

Taketori Monogatari (the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) is the oldest Japanese narrative, which was produced in the 10th century. It is a story of a mysterious girl called Princess Kaguya, who was discovered as a baby inside a stalk of glowing bamboo plant. She grew up to be a beautiful woman and went back to her home town, "the moon capital" with servants that would come to pick her up.

What is the origin of Taketori Monogatari? Is it all fictional? I don't think so, because there are several related names of places such as Kaguyahime (Princess Kaguya) and Hinanogou (Princess Village) in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, which is located 110km southwest of Tokyo. There is a beautiful bamboo forest, Taketori Park, where Princess Kaguya was said to be found, in this city (see the following photo).

To visit this mysterious area, a local line, Gakunan Railway is convenient. Connecting Yoshihara on the JR Central Tokaido Main Line and Gakunan-Enoo, the total length is 9.2km. Beautifully shining classic stainless cars, 7000 and 8000 series are operated every 30 minutes. These carriages are all ex-Keio 3000 series, which I introduced in my blog on October 22nd, 2011. A lovely sticker reflecting the image of Princess Kaguya is displayed on the front of the train (see the top photo).

If Taketori Monogatari is a real story, what was the vehicle that Princess Kaguya embarked on to go back to the moon? Was it a UFO?

Bamboo forest in Taketori Park near Hina Station on the Gakunan Railway

More information about Gakunan Railway (in Japanese): http://www.fujikyu.co.jp/gakunan/train.html