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    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
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        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

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        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

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    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

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        Ark Hills Marche

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        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.

        Tokyo Escapes: Summer Camping

        Tokyo summers can be stifling—luckily it’s easy to escape the city for a cool break from the heat.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Cycling Awaichi

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    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • River and Lake
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...
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        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
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        All-Season Outdoor Playgr...

        Enter the all-season world of Shinetsu Shinzekyo in Nagano and Niigata with outdoor professionals
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
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        Mad About Pow

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        The Reemergence of Arai

        Lotte Arai Resort will definitely become a hotspot for western skiers and boarders over the next few years.

        Tohoku Storm Chasing

        Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures.
    • Travel
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

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        Return to Palau

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    • Food and Drinks
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Races and Events
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

Iron Bridges: Monuments Stamped With Lost Memories

At 1:24 on the afternoon of Dec. 28, 1986, a strong wind blew across the rails of the iron bridge, causing the Miyabi passenger train, on its way back to the yard, to crank its emergency brake. When the engineer turned to check his line of cars, he saw nothing on the tracks. The passenger cars had derailed and crushed a crab-packing plant below. Five plant workers and one train conductor died in the accident. This terrible tragedy occurred on the Amarube Iron Bridge, at 41.45 meters, renowned as “The Far East’s Tallest Trestle Bridge.”

(The historic Iron Bridge will be replaced by a new concrete bridge to be completed in 2010.)

In the latest issue of the BE-PAL’s email magazine, I wrote of the final curtain call for the Amarube Iron Bridge, and soon after received a letter from a reader. The reader’s home was near the Amarube Iron Bridge, and recently a long letter arrived from his father still living there.

The story occurred the year before Japan National Railways became JR. The main line of the San-in Railway had made the switch to electric up to Miyazaki Station. At Kazumi Station a concessionaire and a conductor boarded a special “New Year’s Shopping Tour” car. The father wrote:
“The man serving as executive director of Japan Foods at the time had just finished an extended medical treatment and was returning to his hometown to assume a position as head of a restaurant at a golf course where I worked. We ended up working together for three years—one of life’s chance meetings, I guess.”
   
Some had survived the 41-meter fall.

The father ended his letter by mentioning the death of his youngest child in the same year as the accident. The elder son was moved by this reference and continued on.

“Our youngest sibling passed away about 20 years ago—the same year as the Amarube Iron Bridge accident. My father felt an even deeper connection with the railway, and now one of our family’s monuments is disappearing. Thank you for making me aware of that.”

This is one of the perks of being an editor. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and personally recalled first seeing news of the accident at my grandmother’s house at age 13. My first trip to the bridge was at 19 on a solo motorcycle tour, followed by a second trip passing over the bridge with a girlfriend on the Izumo sleeper-car when I was 25. The third time was in fall at 32-years-old for a cover shoot for BEPAL.

“Time flows like a river” is a common figure of speech but, in reality, we forget many events. We often relive moments when something comes to an end—break-ups, incidents, accidents and death. We gather together memories like points and draw them together to make a line to remember the road we have traveled. But our lives aren’t represented by the line. Rather, by those long-forgotten things that lie between the points.

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