Nagasaki: Tax system lets railway fan become stationmaster

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Tokyo man poses for a photo after being appointed as the stationmaster of Shimabara Station for a day on June 18 in Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture.

SHIMABARA, Nagasaki — A 48-year-old man from Tokyo was appointed as the stationmaster of Shimabara Railway’s Shimabara Station for one day in exchange for his donation to Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture.

In Japan, a tax system called furusato nozei allows a person to make a donation to a municipality of their choice. The amount of the donation is considered to cover tax payment to their own city. Many people take advantage of this system as they might receive something unique from the municipality.

The Shimabara city government offers about 1,000 different gifts, one of which is the one-day stationmaster experience for a donation of ¥200,000. The man is a railway enthusiast and has dreamed of becoming a one-day honorary stationmaster, a title that is rarely given to someone who is not a celebrity.

On June 18, he was able to make announcements over the loudspeakers and let conductors know when their trains were cleared to depart.

“It was a good experience because I was able to understand the efforts made to operate trains safely,” he said. “I want to brag about this to my family and coworkers.”