The story of the lone schoolgirl and the country train that takes her to school every day is capturing hearts around the world.

A tiny train station in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, made national news late last year, when it was revealed that its only regular visitor was a high school student who used the local train service to commute to and from school every day.

▼ The story of a lone girl waiting for a country train is like something straight out of a Studio Ghibli film.

Foreign news outlets recently picked up on the touching story, but in the rush to do so, reports were peppered with false information, creating a certain amount of confusion on social media.

The true story, it turns out, is just as heartwarming without all the inaccurate embellishments.

▼ A copy of the original Japanese story (top right), from the Asahi Shimbun on 7 January 2015, has been posted on the bulletin board inside the rural station in Hokkaido.

The station where high school student Kana Harada boards the train is Kyu-Shirataki Station, not Kami-Shirataki Station as has been widely reported. After reviewing the number of commuters using their services in rural areas, Japan Rail Hokkaido announced their decision to close a number of lesser-used stations, including Kami-Shirataki, Kyu-shirataki, and Shimo-shirataki, last year.

After being made aware of the high school girl’s daily commute, however, the rail company decided to keep the service going until her graduation, in March 2016.

▼ Without the service, it’s a long, 73-minute walk to catch a 9:00 a.m. express train from neighbouring Shirataki Station on the Sekihoku train line.

There’s only one train heading away from the main city of Asahikawa toward Engaru High School each day, so Kana’s parents make the five-minute drive to the station in time for her to catch the 7:16 a.m. train every morning, where she’s the only regular passenger waiting on the elevated section of land serving as a platform.

▼ The train route, posted at Kami-Shirataki Station.

When Kana boards the train, there are about 10 other passengers, mostly other students, inside. As an unwritten rule, first and second year students sit in the first car of the train, while third year students ride in the second carriage.

▼ The journey to school takes almost one hour, giving Kana time to read, listen to music or study during test time.

With only three services stopping at Kyu-Shirataki Station in the afternoon, Kana isn’t able to stay back with her friends after club activities at school. Occasionally she has to run to catch the last train home.

Upon hearing about the upcoming closure of services to the station, Kana said she was sad and disappointed to hear it won’t be used anymore. After spending quiet mornings with nothing but the wooden station house for company, we’re sure Kana’s fond memories of her train journeys to school will last her whole lifetime.

Source: Asahi ShimbunNaver Matome
Top Image: Wikimedia (edited by RocketNews24)