Issue #88

Fall 2023

The Train Station That Knows What You Need

by Dawn Vogel

In a rural part of Japan, known for ski resorts and hot springs, sits a small train station where people don't often embark or disembark. It's called Tsuchitaru, roughly 14 kilometers from the station most people traveling through the area want, Echigo-Yuzawa.

Tsuchitaru knows what you want.

If you're not sure, hop on the train--any train that goes through Tsuchitaru will do--and disembark at this, the unlikeliest of stations. Then wait.

When you see the train marked with neon yellow-green paint on the northbound side of the station, raise a hand. It will take you to what you want.

You'll know, when the time comes, to disembark. At first, you may not know where or when you are. You may no longer be in Japan. You may have traversed time. But where you've wound up is the place where you'll get what you want.

Former passengers of this line have reportedly ended their journey in London, Milan, Paris, and New York City, but also in the places they grew up, small and rural, forgotten. In every case, they found their dream job, their lost love, their true passion, the person they had never forgiven (but always wanted to), the family that now accepts them for who they are.

But it wasn't what they needed.

If you'd rather find what you need, that can happen at Tsuchitaru as well.

When you see the train marked with paint of an indescribable color, something close to purple-blue, with an iridescent sheen of fuchsia, travelling southbound, do not make a move. The train will stop for you. And it will take you to find what you need.

Again, there will be no stop with flashing lights and announcements to tell you you've reached your destination. The doors will open, and you will know.

Sometimes, this train stops at places that have no station, even some on no map. At least, not on any known map. But you will know, you will feel in every fiber of your being that you are in the right place.

What you need is almost never in a place you can give a name, at first. There are no landmarks to anchor your location. Just a sense of peace. A sense that finally, you can find what you need.

The destinations of the passengers on this train are said to be known only to them. Perhaps they discovered a remarkable skill, the person they needed in their life (or the one they needed to get far away from), or the family that has finally admitted they were wrong to judge them.

These passengers have not gone on the talk show circuit to brag about how getting on the right train at the right place and time made them who they are today.

(You can always spot the ones who got on the train to what they want, by the way, because they never say where or when they got on the train.)

Some would say you must be wise enough to know the difference between getting what you want and finding what you need. Few are. But you need not ponder it, because

Tsuchitaru knows.

Author Bio


Dawn Vogel has written for children, teens, and adults, spanning genres, places, and time periods. She is a member of SFWA and Codex Writers. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their cats. Visit her: or Blue Sky/Mastodon @historyneverwas.