One of the things about using the Nishitetsu Kaizuka Line in the eastern part of Fukuoka City is that it is never really very crowded. Even in rush hour it is possible to get a seat in the time it takes to travel down the line for one or two stops. The line itself is an old single track dating back to 1924 and is just 11km long with ten stops between Kaizuka and Shingū stations. Like many regional lines in Japan it used to be a lot longer, running for 20.9km to Tsuyazaki until 2007. The rolling stock is old and it is easy to imagine the same 600 series trains trundling along in the 1970s or 80s full of people heading for work, smoking in the carriages and reading newspapers. The line runs along the coast out towards the Munakata area of Fukuoka and from Mitoma and Shingū stations it is easy to head across on foot to nice but relatively unused beaches just five minutes away. There is a leisurely, relaxing feeling about the commute in and out of the city proper and this is perhaps enhanced by knowing that Mitoma beach is a popular desination all year round for some surfers. Knowing that from Shingū you can take a ferry out to Ainoshima Island and enjoy views out across the Genkai sea also adds something to the ambience.
The picture featured above was taken with a smart phone inside one of the train cars on the way out to Mitoma in the evening. I manipulated the RGB colour profile to create a melting effect, the idea being to give the impression of transition, which is a theme that is nearly always somewhere in my mind. As I regularly head out of the city on this line and into the more dimly lit suburbs, a wave of relaxation seems to pass through the train. People can sense that they are being transported in their own time and space, away from the commercial assault of the shopping streets and the oppression of the business districts. The effect that was applied to the photo is also meant to convey the inevitability of the retirement of these old clunky carriages which really are of another time. As we bump and rock and trundle into the future I wonder where we are going and how we are going to transform the world. Already towards the end of the line, real estate is being bought up, landowners are turning over plots to housing developers and a road along the coast is being widened. It very much seems as though the surfers and the handful of native ‘Bohemians’ I see in my neighbourhood are about to be gentrified. Will people organise against it or will constraints on geographical space (the cliff, the beach, the ocean) prevent it? I remind myself that while the passage of time is unstoppable, the way in which we actively create, shape and transform our societies is very much down to us.