Monday, November 22, 2010

"Carrying Atmospheres"

Boarding an old type JR Express train a few weeks ago in Shinjuku, I was happy to see it was from a few decades back.  I haven't actually ridden in the JR limited express trains all that often, but I've been seeing them on the rails for a quarter century now, so they seem like a permanent piece of the world (which they are not of course...), so it's sort of sad to see them disappearing from the rails.

Anyway, I settled into my seat by a left-side window and watched Tokyo roll by as the train headed for the countryside.  Reaching the countryside, things looked exotic out the window and there was a slight feeling of a piece of the city (the train) being away from its natural habitat.  Not logical of course, but keep in mind that I'm used to seeing them in the city, so it seems like they are a part of the city and the city is a part of them... (which is true in a sense).

Getting off the train up in Nikko, I walked up to the front of the train and contemplated its design - thinking of all the many kilometers it's traveled over the decades and wondering how extensively it's traveled the country.  Interesting enough, but feeling the tug of passing time, I turned around and headed off into my Nikko trip, putting the old train out of my mind.

After a couple of days traveling around in Nikko - including to the Kinugawa Onsen area, I boarded a newer type express train for the return trip to Tokyo, and this time, the train seemed to be a part of the countryside - as it might, after watching the express trains on the rails over two days.  (Incidentally, I didn't see the old type of express train at all - after the one I took from Shinjuku to Nikko - but saw many of the newer type that I took back to Shinjuku - so that old type train may be even rarer than I thought.)

Homeward-bound and looking forward to more time in a comfortable seat by a window, I went to a store first and bought some food - a little more than I needed actually - and then when I sat down on the train, I began eating and drinking - a luxury all the more luxurious for usually not being able to do it!

The train rolled on through the evening, and then through the night - and as it passed... I think it was Akabane Station (not sure about that though), I looked at all the people on the platforms and felt a bit surprised at there being so many!  Since I live in Tokyo, I know only too well how crowded it is, but in two days on the trains in Nikko and the Kinugawa Onsen area, I'd gotten used to a more leisurely pace and a lot fewer people!

Getting off the train in Shinjuku - this time the train seemed like it belonged to the countryside and was out-of-place in the mega-city.  But of course... travel devices carry something of the atmosphere they come from when they travel somewhere.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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