Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lonely Japan: The Train

This is part two of a series written by a friend of mine. You can read part 1 here.

On the train I managed to secure a seat (rush hour had passed at this point) at the edge of the bench. This is the choicest of seats on the train, as it not only limits your exposure to other human beings but also allows you to sleep against the metal railings that bookend the benches. Sleeping on the train after, or while, drinking is quite dangerous. Usually ends up with you at the end of the line somewhere in the sticks being woken up by a man in white gloves who only speaks the incomprehensible dialect of Japanese men over 50. I was not interested in sleeping, or meeting the man in the white gloves, so I made sure to not slouch too much.

Across from me were a mother and her child. The child (believe it was a girl) was probably around three or four and was crawling all over the seat and her mother, who was sitting with her eyes pointed directly at the handbag in between her feet. I watched the little girl maneuver around, avoiding a series of missed head injury opportunities, until she became aware of my presence. She stopped immediately and stared straight at me, expressionless. I smiled at her. I also tried to wave, but my hands were occupied with their important chu-hi holding task so it was more of a “can-shake” than a wave. The girl giggled, and I managed to spill some liquid on my jeans. The mother must not have pleased, however, and without looking up from the ground picked up her daughter and quickly shuffled down to the other end of the train car. Maybe I should have shaved, would have made me look more “hip-bar owner” drunk than “this guy probably talks to stray cats” drunk.

The newer trains have little monitors above the doors to each car, and they are usually good for a few minutes diversion. I looked up at the one closest to me. There was some kind of kanji riddle (maybe it was a joke?) that I couldn’t fully understand. The animal/creature on the screen thought it was hilarious so it must have been funny. Next came the train system status report. A few of the lines were delayed due to accidents. I’m not really sure what kind of accidents these are but they can’t be too bad if they only delay the trains a few minutes, right? Only accidents I was familiar with involved cars driving off the road into snow drifts, and I think the delay was more than five minutes. I didn’t think about accidents much longer thanks to a pretty lady wearing what looked like a rain jacket-dress presenting the weather. She smiled at me, told me it was going to be cold (but not too cold) and that there might be some clouds somewhere in the next week. Good to know. Time to get off the train.


  1. Still interesting. Has that Hemingway feel. Drunk and meandering with no particular direction but something menacing going on between the lines. A listlessness or morbidity. I'm beginning to see why he wanted to remain anonymous

  2. "Drunk and meandering with no particular direction but something menacing going on between the lines."

    Heh....that reminds me of Camus.