Completed in 1936, northern Japan’s Esashi train line ran for a scenic 42kms. Stretching from coast to coast, it served small, inland villages — offering a service that must have once been nothing short of essential. The combination of motorisation, better roads and a decreasing population, however, gradually left the route with an ever-dwindling number of passengers. A situation that meant by 2011, only 6 far from busy return services a day were in operation. And while presumably still relied upon by some, in strictly financial terms, it simply wasn’t viable. So 12 months later, the decision to close the line was announced, and on May 11, 2014, the last trains trundled along the tracks.
Fast-forward a little over 2 years, and the photographs below show what’s left: a small selection of unique, abandoned and wonderfully quaint local stations. Unfortunately a couple of them have already been destroyed or repurposed, and down to nothing but sheer good fortune, a demolition crew arrived at another one just as we had finished photographing it. There were ominous signs the rest would suffer the same fate too. So these images are a personal reminder of a wonderful day, and rather unexpectedly, also a document of what will soon sadly cease to exist.