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Night of the Milky Way Railway
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Night of the Milky Way Railway

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,468 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Giovanni and his friend Campanella, who is dead from drowning, travel on a celestial railway which is a ferry of souls journeying to the afterlife.
Hardcover, 173 pages
Published July 1st 1991 by Routledge (first published January 1st 1934)
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Bulcanilo The book contains only the Night of the Milky Way Railway with very useful explanations of the symbols in each chapter and has also fragments from pre…moreThe book contains only the Night of the Milky Way Railway with very useful explanations of the symbols in each chapter and has also fragments from previous versions (different from the last version also left unfinished by the author) added.
The cover and the publication year match the book that I have, but the publisher is M.E. Sharpe, Inc., not Routledge.(less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Susan Budd
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Namu myoho renge kyo. This is the mantra of Nichiren Buddhism. It means ‘Veneration to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law.’ To understand Kenji Miyazawa and his marvelous Milky Way Railroad, one must understand his devotion to Nichiren Buddhism.

Nichiren Buddhists believe that the whole of the dharma is in the title of the Lotus Sutra and that enlightenment can be achieved in this lifetime through faith in the Lotus Sutra. This faith is expressed by chanting Namu myoho renge kyo. Moreov
A short tale of two boys, Giovanni and Campanella, which deals with themes such as dreams, loss and eventually life itself. It's a bittersweet story with an unexpected ending, that seems to me to have been a blend of 'The Little Prince' and 'The Polar Express'. I just wish I had the opportunity to read it as a child - I'm sure it would have left an indelible mark on me then. ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I remember reading somewhere that Gabriel Garcia Marquez was amazed when he read The Metamorphosis, that he wished he'd known sooner that someone could write stories like that. That's pretty much what this was like for me. (Ignoring the fact that Marquez has more cultural significance) The strange thing is, it's nothing I haven't seen before. This short book is a dreamlike I-Spy game of Miyazaki tropes like you wouldn't believe—but for as much wonder as Miyazaki films inspire, Miyazawa e ...more

I think I've never read him or known him ( as a famous, best-loved Japanese author before, I mean in book form; however, vaguely I might have read a few of his tales collected in some Japanese anthologies I read some years ago so let me verify from those edited and compiled by, for example, Prof. Donald Keene and others. If found, I would confirm my encounter with his works in my ENDNOTE.

I found reading this book classified in the genres of chil
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I should summarize the stories in this book with one word, it would definitely be 'weird'.
Some of them were good weird, others just weird.

I guess some of it - perhaps quite a bit - got inevitably lost in translation, which in some stories let the point dissolve in the word-soup and left the reader hanging. But other stories managed to move something small and warm in me when I read them.

All in all, it was worth reading.
Edward Rathke
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A quick read, but holds its weight with longer, heavier tomes about similar subject matter. It's oneiric and whimsical, at turns touching and beautiful.

At its center is the search for happiness and what it means.

--[. . .] a person creates happiness around him when he does something good. That's why I'm sure my mum will forgive me.--

--If we can run like this, we can run anywhere in the whole wide world!--

--'May I enquire as to where you boys would be heading?' asked the man timidly.
'Further than
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book when a friend mentioned something along the lines of "There's a nice, new edition of these kinda weird, kinda psychedelic, Japanese stories". For me it wasn't easy to read, but definitely worth it. Some stories were touching, some interesting and fun, some were just... weird.
And the book is physically gorgeous.
Ronan Jamieson
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing

I watched the animated movie a bit ago and loved it and the book is exactly the same with almost no differences but I still love them both. I can't wait to dig into more of Miyazawa's work!
Ha Thu 'Yvonne' Do
This book is obviously not easy to comprehend without researching further on its 1910s context and the author's realm of perspectives outta the universe. However so, it's a dreamy journey of 2 primary school students over the Milky Way bound to the celestial after-life and as it was on a railroad, they hopped on and off the train to meet with other characters at each stop, but in the end only one of them had the return ticket to be back home. Their first-hand experience with many major life-chan ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Suggestive children story about a couple of boys, one of which (Giovanni) is a social outcast, with an absent father (he is hunting otters in the far north), a sick mother and a set of hostile classmates (all but Campanella) who are always teasing him. Suddenly, Giovanni and Campanella find themselves travelling in a mysterious railway along the Milky Way. The reader will discover gradually the destination of the trip and the origin of the different travellers. In spite of the names of the chara ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if kenji miyazawa punched me id thank him
Angel 一匹狼
I read this almost 20 years ago, as a freshperson (freshbeing?), just 18, 19 years old. I used to go to the translation and interpretation faculty's library, that was pretty close to my own building, in my free time, and I started to pick up books by Japanese authors. My fascination for Japanese literature (a 'new' type of literature I knew little about) was starting to flourish, and Kenji Miyazawa's "銀河鉄道の夜" (in its Castilian translation) fell into my hands. I read it, and enjoyed it, even if I ...more
Exuberant visuals with a heart so pure and good, the book is sure a treasure. Loved it.
Van Nguyen
Dec 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, children
a beautiful story about friendship
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who are ok with symbolism and imagery
Recommended to Calochortus by: My sister
Shelves: books-i-have
I read a different version of Galaxy Train -- I think it was supposed to be a translation for Japanese native-speakers to learn english. However, I think that perhaps I liked that. My version came with cute Italian-style graphite drawings, too~

Anyway, what to say about Miyazawa? I guess his view of classes and society is nicely packaged in Galaxy Train -- this isn't really a fairy tale, and it really isn't a dream. Sure, you could take it as that, but that defeats Miyazawa's original purpose. It
Heavenly Spring
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For several minutes Giovanni stood there daydreaming about whether the sky really was filled with scorpions and warriors, and how much he'd love to walk forever and ever through that sky.

[Heavily subjective review]

This is the closest i could get to perfection. Even the title itself is already perfect [sobs in 銀河鉄道の夜]. Reading this makes me imagining the beauty of Van Gogh's painting series of stars and fields, while at the same time i could hear my favorite songs from this particular Japanese pr
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give the story 4 stars for the story itself; I fear the translation has not done Kenji Miyazawa's beautiful "children's" story any favors. Alas, it is the only readily available affordable translation.

Miyazawa pulls deeply from the cosmic imagery of the Lotus Sutra, as well as it's message that all religions point toward the Dharma. At first the appearance of a Catholic Nun surprised me, and I thought it was a liberty taken by the translator, but no. With a little help from Google translate, I
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautiful story questioning the ideas of happiness, loneliness, and growth. Something of a coming of age tale but so much more. The themes are inseparable from the author and his ideas on nature, religion, and even love. The complexity of the tale is impressive and the threads to untangle are very fun.

Perhaps what I enjoyed most is just the images Miyazawa manges to paint. The sky swirls, colors dance, and one is lost in the aura of beauty put forth by the page. A milky river glows phosphores
Bryne Jocson
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I finished this book in one sitting! A really interesting plot with and ending that leaves you in mystery. I liked the theme the book portrays which is "What is true happiness?", but I wish it was answered more clearly. The relationship between Giovanni and Campanella was interesting and overall the story was very poetic with great sensory details. I recommend this to anyone with interest in a sad yet thoughtful and unique story of Giovanni and his journey with Campanella on the Milky Way Railro ...more
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
An excellent novella taking the reader on a journey through the Milky Way Railway where many new friends are met and adventures are had. Certainly reminiscent of some anime that I have seen (hardly ever watch it though). Unlike the other story (Restaurant of Many Orders) this seems to be more applicable to readers of all ages, with enough adult themes to keep the more matured authors in interest. The story is worth reading alone for the vivid imagery though.
Eric Hinkle
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dreamy, mesmerizing, philosophical. Beautiful and unpredictable. Supposedly the most beloved children's tale in Japan (although I found many of his others to be just as good or better).

I wish this edition had more illustrations -- even though there are quite a few -- because Miyazawa's scenes are so evocative and open-ended. There are several translations of this, and I'd be curious to read one or two more. Miyazawa's language seems like it could be interpreted in myriad forms.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-lit
It's hard to sum this story up in a few words. On the surface, it's a buddy trip story, but to where, and why. Then you realize that this simple story has great depth and moves toward the profound. I really appreciated the introduction that gives some background on Miyazawa and his times and provides insight into the content of Milky Way Railroad. ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn’t quite “get” this book. I had the same experience with The Little Prince , which is comparable to Night Train to the Stars , so I guess I’ve just got different tastes. I wish I enjoyed this style more.

Night Train centres on schoolchildren Giovanni and his only friend Campanella, who may or may not be anthropomorphic cats, judging by the illustrations. Giovanni and Campanella board a train which travels through the stars (because presumably the Japanese countryside isn’t interesting e
Alexia Gonzalez
The story is about a poor little Japanese boy with an Italian name, and another little Japanese boy, also with an Italian name, who was rich. In their controversial friendship due to their social status, the poor boy faces a lot of torment among his classmates, then one evening during a festival the both of them find themselves mysteriously aboard a train traveling the Milky Way. During their time together they meet a variety of characters who in turn make them reflect on themselves. In the end ...more
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The Architect
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Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian, japanese
I want(ed) to like this more than I do. I want it to be awe-some and breath-taking and heart-shattering. I want it to be immensely imaginative and be the pinnacle of science, science fiction, and religious-sentiment. I want the symbolism to be so symbolic that reality becomes a symbol.

I am not even sure I actually even developed any opinion at all of/for the main characters.

Maybe because this is just one of those things that is best read in its original language. I am not saying that other read
Ayaki あやき
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A review from a Japanese.

If you are looking for exciting space adventures, this is not for you. It is more of a poetic, bittersweet short story. A calm and quiet read.

I had the privilege of first coming across this story as a child. I think I was about 9 or 10. There was an event where a narrator read the book in a planetarium. I think that was one of the best ways to experience this book.

It's not a story with excitement or tear jerking plots or extravagant characters. Yet, it has stuck with me
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tried reading this book a year ago but was never able to finish it. After losing someone close to me, I came back to it and fell in love with the themes of loss and happiness. Night on the Galactic Railroad/Milky Way Railroad impacted me deeply and how I view death and true happiness. It's one of the few books I actively recommend. Kenji Miyazawa's writing is so emotional and heartfelt, making me cry over Giovanni's regrets and fears throughout the book. I definitely want to reread it over and ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Night on the Galactic Railroad is one of my favorite stories, period. I can't bring myself to spoil any of it, but Kenji's ethereal classic to this day reminds me of why I love literature and cinema. It's full of dreamlike, surrealist imagery that chooses to wrap itself around an emotional core. The story feels personal to Kenji, as if it was a passion project based on his own life. It's one of the only books that can make me cry, and proves to me that Miyazawa is a maestro among Japanese writer ...more
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His name is written as 宮沢賢治 in Japanese, and translated as 宮澤賢治 in Traditional Chinese.

Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) was born in Iwate, one of the northernmost prefectures in Japan. In high school, he studied Zen Buddhism and developed a lifelong devotion to the Lotus Sutra, a major influence on his writing. After graduating from an agricultural college, he moved to Tokyo to begin his writing career

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