Abandoned railway station with 'happy' name a big draw

January 01, 2012

OBIHIRO, Hokkaido--An abandoned railway station here with a "happy" name continues to attract visitors from abroad.

Kofuku (happiness) Station first attracted attention in the 1970s and was swamped by visitors who wanted some of the station name to rub off on them.

However, even after the railway line that stopped at Kofuku Station went out of business in 1987, visitors continued to flock to the abandoned station. In recent years, more foreign tourists have also stopped by the station, helped in part by the construction of a new expressway section.

The waiting room at the old Kofuku Station is covered with paper on which are written the wishes of visitors. One says, "I want a boyfriend.," while another says, "I hope my surgery is successful."

Business cards and photos of happy people have also been pasted on the walls of the waiting room.

One individual from nearby Kushiro who has visited seven times said, "Whenever I come here, I can erase all the bad things that have happened. I feel as though I have been rejuvenated and gain the power to become a bit more happy."

According to a history of the region, farmers from Fukui Prefecture who lost their farms and homes due to a huge flood moved to the area around the station in about 1902. Although the area originally was known by the name of Koshin, the name was changed by combining the Ko of Koshin with Fuku from Fukui in around 1910.

The link with Fukui is somewhat symbolic since a recent survey found that prefecture to have the highest level of happiness among Japanese prefectures.

Local residents are hoping that another boom in popularity will be the latest happy news for the area.

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Visitors to the old Kofuku Station ring a bell that was installed after the railway line ended operations. (Asahi Shimbun)

Visitors to the old Kofuku Station ring a bell that was installed after the railway line ended operations. (Asahi Shimbun)

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  • Visitors to the old Kofuku Station ring a bell that was installed after the railway line ended operations. (Asahi Shimbun)

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