KYOTO -- A train station in this western Japan city's Kita Ward became the proud owner of the country's longest station name as counted in hiragana phonetic characters on March 20.
Keifuku Electric Railroad Co.'s Tojiin Station had its name changed to "Tojiin. Ritsumeikan University." Not so long, you might say, but in hiragana, the Kitano Line station's name comes to 26 characters: To U Ji I N Ri Tsu Me I Ka N Da I Ga Ku Ki Nu Ga Sa Ki-ya N Pa Su Ma E (Toujiin Ritsumeikan Daigaku Kinugasa Kyanpasu Mae).
Previously, the record for the rail station with the longest hiragana name had been held by two with 22 characters. One was "Chi-yo U Ji-ya Ga Ha Ma Shi O Sa I Ha Ma Na Su Ko U E N Ma E" (Chouja-ga-hama Shiosai Hamanasu Kouen Mae) on the Kashima Rinkai Tetsudo's Oarai Kashima Line in Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan. The other was "Mi Na Mi A So Mi Zu No U Ma Re Ru Sa To Ha Ku Su I Ko U Ge N" (Minami Aso Mizu no Umareru Sato Hakusui Kougen) on the Minami-aso Railway Co.'s line in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
Tojiin Station on the Kitano Line, commonly known as "Randen," had had the same name since 1925, when the station was opened. Keifuku Electric began considering a change recently when one of its workers suggested the name should make it clear the station is the closest to Ritsumeikan University's Kinugasa Campus. They also considered shortening the new name but decided against it after finding out that it would be the longest in Japan, according to the firm's public relations representative.
(Japanese original by Yoko Minami, Kyoto Bureau)