Remote Hokkaido train station stays open for one high school girl? Perhaps not

CCTV's Facebook post, recounting the poignant tale, was shared more than 5,700 times and liked by more than 22,000 people. PHOTO: CCTVNEWS/FACEBOOK

HOKKAIDO - There is only one high school girl who uses the remote Kami-Shirataki Station in Hokkaido, Japan, but the station has been kept open for her till she graduates, goes a Facebook post by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Friday (Jan 8) which has gone viral.

Earlier, the same story was widely circulated in Japanese social media. But there is a little more to the story than that.

CCTV's Facebook post, recounting the poignant tale, was shared more than 5,700 times and liked by more than 22,000 people by Saturday.

The story goes that Japan Railway wanted to close the remote station in Hokkaido three years ago, but changed its mind when they discovered that a girl uses it to go to school.

She is expected to graduate on March 26, which is when the station is expected to close.

The post said: "Every day only two trains stop at the Kami-Shirataki station with a unique timetable depending on when the girl needs to go to school and back."

Many expressed their admiration for Japan Railways in the comments thread following the post.

However, the situation may have been romanticised.

A Taiwan Apple Daily report said that the girl featured in the story does take the train every day, but the year-three student takes it from Kyu-Shirataki Station, instead of the Kami-Shirataki Station, along with more than 10 schoolmates at 7.15am. That is the only train in the morning.

On their way home, they have a choice of three trains, with one as late as 7.25pm.

Apple Daily also confirmed that Japan Railways, as part of an effort to rationalise its operations, will close three underused stations - Kami-Shirataki, Kyu-Shirataki and Shimo-Shirataki stations - by March 2016.

But this may not have anything to do with the schoolgirl's graduation.

It is not clear how the story started, but nostalgia for Japan's vanishing rural villages and the heartwarming details, which many say are akin to a Hayao Miyazaki film, probably helped it spread online.

Hayao Miyazaki is the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, known for anime films like My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.

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