- 新地理 (ISSN:05598362)
- vol.29, no.4, pp.1-11, 1982
There have been many oral traditions relating to oppositions against railway constructions in the early period of railway development in Japan. The most famous oral traditions have been in <i>Shukubamachis</i> (towns or villages with facilities for relay post-horse), where the inhabitants had There have been many oral traditions relating to oppositions against railway constructions in the early period of railway development in Japan. The most famous oral traditions have been in <i>Shukubamachis</i> (towns or villages with facilities for relay post-horse), where the inhabitants had opposed to railway constructions for fear of losing their travel customers. Curiously, however, in Japan, there have been no reliable historical documents relating to the oppositions, or no historical articles certifying the facts of oppositions, using reliable records. Many stories of railway opposition have remained in vague condition from a view-point of positivism, today. The author insists that it is necessary to prove the fact of railway oppositions, through the following procedures. They are, (1) discovery of reliable documents written contemporaneously, (2) consideration to policies and general opinions about railways on the day, and (3) investigation of ideal rail-routes in relation to topographic feature and railway track gradient (25‰ in maximum gradient in case of Japanese trunk railways).<br>There were two periods of railway mania in Japan, in the closing years of 19th Century, 1885-90 and 1894-99. In those days, inhabitants of rural towns made passionate movement to raise their fund for private railway construction, or to introduce national railways to their towns. It is unreasonable to suppose railway oppositions in those days without showing any reliable documents. As for the Kobu Railway, between Tokyo and Hachioji (opened in 1889), having famous oral traditions of railway opposition by <i>shukubamachis</i> along a traditional trunk road, we have no reliable records to prove the existence of oppositions, and many preserved documents showing the insistence of introduction of railway construction in those days, showed the decision in ideal rail-route in relation to topographic feature and track gradient.<br>There were some categories of railway oppositions, capable to certifying their existence by reliable documents. They were, (1) the oppositions to coastal or riverside railways, which compete with steamship operations, by officers of national railways, (2) the oppositions by military authorities or conservative <i>samurais</i> (feudal warriors) class, insisted the precedence of military expansion or anti-foreign spirit, and (3) the oppositions by farmers, protested the change for worse utilization of water in paddy field, because of the construction of embankment for railways. The first and second categories had lasted by about 1880s and 1870s, respectively, but the third one has continued toward the 20th Century. The author presents some examples belonging to the first and the third categories of oppositions during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) in this article.