Friday, June 20, 2008

Collateral Damage

The "Vox Populi, Vox Dei" column in The Asahi Shimbun is usually so fey and detached from reality as to be a waste of good newsprint and web time.

I normally avoid it.

For some reason, I chose to read the International Herald Tribune's translation of column on Wednesday. Perhaps it was the ominous title. In reading the essay, I learned the sad news that the movement for a more realistic and environmentally sound way of revitalizing rural economies suffered a big loss on Saturday.

The people who could have helped us are gone
The Asahi Shimbun

A single red tram travels along a railway line through green rice paddies under a blue sky. This bucolic image is what many people conjure when picturing life in a farming village.

The Kurihara Denen Tetsudo, which crossed northern Miyagi Prefecture from east and west, was one such scenic railway. To the dismay of railway buffs and residents alike, the "Kuriden" was forced to end its nearly 90-year history a year ago this spring.

Two experts on community revitalization commissioned by Kurihara city to boost its local economy after the train closure died in Saturday's quake that struck Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. Yayoi Mugiya, 48, was a consultant on tourism, while Yuichiro Kishi, 35, was a curator of the Railway Museum in Saitama. The two were set to visit a nearby marsh the day of the quake and were waiting for city officials at the Komanoyu Onsen inn, which was swept away by a quake-triggered landslide...

The site for The Railway Museum is here. I have not been to it yet (I visited its predecessor in Suidobashi once). It must be amazing. It certainly is big: the museum's gleeming white slug-like form is visible from even the most distant mountaintops surrounding the northern Kantō Plain.

I do not know anything about Yayoi-san. I only know that the number of leaders of working on organic community revival is too small. The country cannot afford to lose any of them.

Ironic, yes, that they should be killed by the landscape they were trying to save.

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