After JNR (Japanese National Railways) was dismantled in 1987 along the flow of privatization, JR was established to take over the railroad network throughout Japan. At the same time, many local lines (mostly fell into deficit operation) were either abolished or switched to the third-sector company.
The Noto-Testudo (Noto Railway) is one of those examples. In its heyday in late 80’ through 90’s, the routes in operation amounted to more than 100 km (approximately 60 miles), it currently operates between Nanao and Anamizu merely for the span of 33 km (21 miles). Even though the operational section was largely reduced, you can still enjoy the scenic view of the Nanao-Hokkai (bay) from the train.
The common problem for those “third-sector” railways is how to deal with the decrease in the number of passengers. To tackle such a weighty issue, the companies take measures in every possible way.
In case of Noto-Tetsudo, animation film called “Hanasaku Iroha” may save the day!
Actually the broadcasting of “Hanasaku Iroha” on TV was not a recent incident. It was run as a TV series in 2011. The story is about the high school girl (a chief character) moved from Tokyo struggling to be a parlormaid on probation at the historic inn with a hot spring in Ishikawa prefecture.
You may wonder why the high school girl from the big city is obliged to work for the countryside inn?
Can she manage with various staff members at the inn? You can find out how the story goes, by reading the comic book.
The Nishigishi station of “Noto Tetsudo” became the model of the station appeared in the animation, so the station is admired as the Holy Land among animation fans. Much more evident appeal is the wrapping train.
Oddly, the wrapping train looked perfectly matching in the bright summer scenery in beautiful Noto’s nature.
The best advice is that you visit the Noto peninsula after reading “Hanasaku Iroha”, then you can fully appreciate the related places appeared in the animation.