I’ve officially become a commuter. I never thought it would happen, but I’ve adapted to it much quicker than even I would have expected. Who knew?
First, a quick synopsis of my commute. I walk 15-20 minutes along the same road from my apartment to the train station. It’s a nice walk, and I pass no less than three convenience stores. It’s around a 1 km walk, so you can be sure that I wear flats! Then once at the station, it’s about 16-20 minutes on the train, depending on whether I catch the local or rapid. They only differ by one stop so it doesn’t make much difference. Once I reach Kanayama, my station, it’s a very very short walk through this cute open shopping area to the ECC building.
Now for some do’s and dont’s on the train. There are three things that you can do on the train according to my observations. One, you can email people on your cell phone. Two, you can close your eyes and sleep or just rest. Three, you can stare into the blank space directly ahead of you. And there are things that you can’t do on the train. One, you don’t talk on your cell phone. Two, you don’t really talk at all, and if you must, you have to talk in quiet tones. Three, you do not look at the people around you.
Being on the train is seriously the strangest part of the commute. You can either sit or stand, but if you stand, you don’t stand facing the front of the train. You face the windows, which is pretty awkward because that means that you’re directly in front of the person sitting down. Hence the rule that you don’t look at anyone. And Japanese people are really okay with being in close proximity. I don’t know how it’s possible, but even if you’re on a full train, they find a way to add more people on at every station. It’s weird, but maybe it works because the Japanese are so much smaller than Americans. But on a plus note, the train is clean and it doesn’t smell bad, and people don’t push that much. It’s respectful pushing if that makes any sense.
Oh, one more thing-when I walk to work, I actually obey the pedestrian rules of the road and don’t cross when the crosswalk says not to. Jen said that you don’t want Japanese to see you breaking the rules and then think that all foreigners don’t respect the rules, and I agree. So, I wait patiently at each crosswalk. I know, it sounds unbelievable, but there you go, I now follow the rules of the road.