Editor’s Afterword

by 半空文学賞

When someone uses the phrase "laid rail", it often refers to "a life of no freedom." It means that someone decides your way of living for you and you do not live your own life. Anyone must have seen young people saying on TV or in the movies, “I don't want to go on the rails laid by my parents.”

But once, I would like you to get on a train that runs on a rail that is exactly laid by someone.

In the train car, there are people reading books, listening to music, talking to each other, taking a break drinking tea, sleeping, frantically playing with their smartphones, and just looking through the window – everyone is spending their time as they please just like in a park or at home. You should be able to find such scenery. I wonder if everyone's school or workplace has this much freedom. On the road or inside of cars, I wonder if it’s possible to spend time in such diverse ways. I wonder how many places there are with this feeling of freedom.

For as long as they follow etiquette, how they spend their time on the train is up to them. Many speak about train-riding etiquette, but few pay attention to the freedom provided by the railway underneath their feet, and freely talk about it. However, there's freedom in railways. That's why there are so many stories that are born and handed down here. Giovanni and Campanella ride the galactic railroad in solitude on the night of the Star Festival, and the murder case Poirot is involved in happens on the Oriental Express. An angel that boards a train in Berlin as a passenger looks through the hearts of all the rider, Gwyneth Paltrow's life changes forever when she jumps through the closing doors of a London subway train. Julie Delpy meets Ethan Hawke when moving away from noisy passengers in the Eurotrain from Budapest, and the two take a stopover in the City of Vienna and walk around until the morning sun climbs. They part their ways and meet again in Paris nine years later.

Trains run on the laid rails without saying anything. That's why there is quite a lot of freedom inside. Or you can say that they keep running on laid rails without saying anything in order to provide freedom inside. If the eleven stories included here give the railway even more freedom, Kotoden will continue to run on the laid rails devotedly.

“Kotoden” Yasumasa Manabe

The 3rd Nakazora Literary Award

"Kotoden Story Project"