“Tetsudoin” (鉄道員…Railroad Man) was her first solo single from May 1999, although she had already released a mini-album and a collaborative single with her father prior to that. I first heard it as its other incarnation, “Child of Snow” (see below), but later encountered it as a theme song of a drama film by Yasuo Furuhata (降旗康男), “Poppoya” (鉄道員). It’s a quiet poignant piece about an elderly stationmaster Otomatsu Sato (佐藤乙松), played by Ken Takakura (高倉健), who works at a rail station in a dying village in Hokkaido and is haunted by memories of his dead wife and daughter. These memories become stronger as he persistently holds on to his position despite the forthcoming closure of the station, and he imagines his daughter an the different stages of her potential life visiting and talking to him. An earnest tearjerker from what I remember. So when Miu’s song comes over the credits with scenes of a lonely locomotive passing through snow-covered forests of Hokkaido, one is left completely spellbound by the sad beauty witnessed. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s gorgeous melody and Miu’s heavenly vocals compliment one another as pure bliss. Tamio Okuda (奥田民生) of Unicorn fame provided the lyrics.
The single peaked at No.49 on Oricon weeklies despite the success of the film, while "Dawn Pink" fared a bit better at No.28 position.
Just a little note about the reading of the title. 鉄道員 can be read as both “poppoya” and “tetsudoin”. The producers of the film went with the former pronunciation, while those of the song chose the latter, according to the single cover here.