Earlier this year I added an audio track to some photos of a wonderfully atmospheric old drinking alleyway. It was an experiment that definitely gave the images something extra, so having made a few recordings in Niigata’s unique Tsutsuishi station several years ago, I decided to re-edit the photos I’d taken, narrow down the selection and post them below with sounds that are arguably as distinctive as the station itself.
First built in 1912, it was originally above ground, but that all changed when the station underwent substantial changes in 1969. Now it’s 40 metres below the surface, and the only way to access the 2 platforms is by navigating several damp tunnels and 290 steps. A trek that users of Tsutsuishi have to make without any aid whatsoever, as there are no lifts or escalators. That said, it’s not exactly what you’d call a busy transit hub. Even back in 2004 the average number of daily commuters was only 68, but by 2019 it was down to just 15 hardy souls.
Also, despite it being a hot day when we visited, the tunnels and stark waiting areas were decidedly chilly, so what the temperatures must be like during the region’s long, bitterly cold winters really doesn’t bear thinking about. And if that wasn’t enough, the air pressure created by passing trains can cause hurricane-like winds — hence the austere looking metal doors.
Finally, in regards the audio, the first track is a reminder to help other passengers should there be any problems — something that’s especially important with the station being unmanned. The second clip indicates that a train is leaving, and the last, rather unnerving sounds, are to alert passengers when a train is arriving.