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History buffs learn about Okinawa’s trains era

Date Posted: 2010-07-15

As Naha City moves forward with expansion of its Yuirail monorail system and Okinawa Prefecture master planners calculate the feasibility of creating a light rail system that could run from southern Okinawa north to Nago City, people are this month having opportunities to discover the island once had a railway system.

Okinawa’s railway history is the subject of lectures being held next Wednesday, and again July 21st at Wakasa Community Hall, to learn all about the electric railway that operated from 1914 to the start of the great depression some 20 years later. The rail system dubbed “Run by the kitchen” for its route that had tracks and trains running behind residences in Naha, visible from homes’ kitchen windows. The 6.9 kilometer route began operating seven months before the island’s second train company, the Keibin Railway.

The electric train was popular, typically cramming 100 people into the 40-person capacity rail cars that were roughly half the size of today’s passenger cars. Competition from bus companies and agricultural business led to the railroad’s demise.

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