A Trip I’ve Taken

You can call me a bit of a local train geek. I’ve been on bullet trains, but there is just something special about the atmosphere of a small train. On local trains, people seem to go at a slower pace and I can see into the lives of the people riding along. I guess I’m kind of a people-watcher as well.

A few years ago I was introduced to the Seishun 18 ticket and it blew my mind that you could travel anywhere on local trains for just over 2000 yen. I started checking into the places I could go to in just one day from Tokyo. I finally decided on a trip to Hiroshima. It would take a little more than 15 hours. I plotted out my 10 train transfers, most stops only had 2 or 3 minutes between trains, and I made note of longer stops to be able to take a rest and stretch my legs.

I started off early in the morning from Tokyo Station and loaded up with onigiri and snacks. I got on the first train with so much enthusiasm, not really matching the sleepy passengers next to me. I was nervous about my first transfer, only 1 or 2 minutes, but when the time came it was just a jog across the platform and I made it.

The next transfers seemed like a video game, where I passed each level without losing a single life. As I approached each station to transfer at I’d keep my eyes peeled for the view of my next train. Then I’d get ready for the speed walk/run to my next trek. I also realized I wasn’t the only one rushing from one train to the next and started following the flow of the people around me. I wondered if they were on a Seishun 18 trip too?

It took a few hours to get past the cities near Tokyo and then the view changed from houses and shops to fields and beautiful foggy mountains. The people changed as well, from business suits and stylish dresses to farmers and people going out to the beach for the day.

I started to get smiles from my fellow passengers and struck up a conversation with a kind elderly lady on her way to Osaka. She shared some of her homemade pickles and freshly picked fruit with me. I gave her some of my Thai flavored spiced nut mix. I began noticing people speaking in the local Kansai dialect and listened to the rhythm of their voices.

After Osaka I caught just a glimpse of Himeji as we flew by. If I had blinked I would have missed it. After a few more trains I finally made it to Hiroshima. I felt a little somberstepping of the train for the last time that day, like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.

I think most people would feel exhausted after such a journey but more than anything else I felt relaxed and refueled. I learned that for me it isn’t always about the destination of where I’m going but about enjoying the journey itself.

Laura




Vocabulary

blow one’s mind (idiom) – to impress or affect someone strongly
plot out (phr. v) – to create a detailed course or plan
enthusiasm (n) – a feeling of energetic interest in a particular subject or activity and an eagerness to be involved in it
keep one’s eyes peeled (idiom) – to remain carefully watching for someone or something
strike up a conversation (idiom) – to start a conversation
somber (adj.) – serious or sad in feeling

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