I’m Standing at the Station…

…And I’m Waiting on My Train to Come

TOKYO — The subway car is silent except for the sound of metal wheels on metal rails as the train made its way beneath Tokyo’s busy streets. Commuters look at their cell phones, read newspapers or simply mind their own business. There is no conversation.

It’s eerie just how quiet a busy subway in a major city can be.

We finally made our way to Tokyo station where we planned to catch the Shinkansen.

The Tokyo station was precise. Attendants clad in blue uniforms stood attention near a waiting Shinkansen. The train departs and a few minutes later, another train arrives on the same track. The railroad operates like a well-oiled machine; every aspect of the country’s railroad network is precise.

Passengers holding suitcases wait for a Shinkansen to arrive on our track, and before long, our train arrives to take us to Kyoto.

The Japanese countryside sped by and the urban landscape gave way to farmland and mountains in the distance. Every few minutes or so, a Shinkansen passed our train, heading in the opposite direction, nothing more than a white blur outside the window. The train gently rocked when the other train passed. The scene continued for nearly three hours until we arrived in Kyoto.

Kyoto used to serve as the imperial capital of Japan. Though it was considered as a possible target site for the atomic bomb in World War II, the city to some degree escaped large scale destruction and is home to many buildings that predate the war.

In Kyoto, we headed to the Nijō Castle, which was unique in that it featured so-called “Nightingale Floors,” which squeaked whenever anyone walked on them — a feature that was supposed to stop an intruder. The castle was completed in 1626 and sits amid a rather urban landscape (actually a subway station is located across the street from the castle).

After the castle, the group enjoyed a walk through the city’s streets and took in a couple of the city’s shrines.

More later…

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