Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Slow Train Comin'

Jump off the Shink at Toyohashi. Bland, ugly city, like most in this country. If you were to blindfold a person and take them off a train in any medium-sized city, and let them look down the street from in front of the station, at the generic billboards for banks and hotels and loan companies and English chain schools, I doubt they could make out where they are. What made Toyohashi different was the incredible amount of foreigners here. Is this city home to a large Brazilian population? I ponder this as I walk back into the station, past sidewalk art of dried noodles, the artist having been much intoxicated with his creation.

I ride a local train deep into the Alps, hitting all the stops. Amongst Canadian-looking homes built strong for winter, and over high bridges spanning their fast rivers. Deeper still, the air noticably cooler and smelling of pine. Pheasants duck into the safety of the brush as the train clears a tunnel, cutting beneath mysterious peaks where myths are born. After an hour or so, I lose my phone signal, and after another hour I'm the only person left on this train. The gorges' scars heal and the levels of the rivers come up beside the tracks. Fog rises off the rapidly cooling water, obscuring the sun which is nearly done for the day anyway. But I ride on, toward a city I didn't know existed, written on a part of the map I'd never looked at before.

On the turntable: David Bowie, "Low"
On the nighttable: Andre Dubus III, "House of Sand and Fog"

1 comment:

Tom said...

Good post Ted.

When I read that first paragraph, I think of Kofu in Yamanashi, Fukushima or Koriyama in Fukushima, any of the ones in Ichikawa, and pretty much any of the rest of Honshu. They really are all the same. They all seem like they're dying. And speaking of scents of death, I think Hokkaido's have even more.

On the homes thing, apparently the latest trend in Tokyo is to transport homes from places like the Alps and reconstruct them on a nice plot of land here. Works out cheaper than building from scratch here and obviously the building materials are better than the rubbish we build homes with on the Kanto plains.