Shigaraki Station’s little, modern building is nothing special, but it’s embellished with tanuki (raccoon dog) statues, including a giant tanuki right outside to greet visitors. It’s one example of how to make a plain train station into a special one: Decorate it local-style. The tanuki is a symbol of Shigaraki/Shiga and a common sight in Japan with shops and restaurants displaying a tanuki outside the entrance. It has various symbolic meanings.
The Shigaraki Kogen Railway is closed as it undergoes repairs of the substantial damage wrought by Typhoon Man-yi in Sept. 2013. It should reopen within 2014.
Riding on Shigaraki Kogen Railway always reminds me of that terrible tragedy on May 14, 1991 when a Shigaraki Kogen Railway train collided head-on with a JR train near Shigarakigushi Station. The trains were packed with people attending the World Ceramic Festival being held at the newly opened Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park. Sadly, 42 people died and 628 were injured. Many of the victims were young students and it is one of Japan’s worst train accidents.
The train station has a small exhibit about the accident. When you read about how it happened, it’s hard to believe how negligent the train operators were. It was a horrific scene. There is a prayer monument near where the accident occurred. A memorial service is held there annually on May 14 attended by railway officials and relatives of the victims.
|Shigaraki Kogen Railway Train Stations|
|Kibukawa 貴生川駅 | Shigarakigushi 紫香楽宮跡駅 | Kumoi 雲井駅 | Chokushi 勅旨駅 | Gyokukeiji-mae 玉桂寺前駅 | Shigaraki 信楽駅|