Tokyo Trains Weekly

Emily Okikawa
December 29, 2016

Monday’s are blood-pumping red, hectic morning commutes on the JR Keiyo Line. The pounding of feet, the rush of Suica cards passing through the gates, the quiet thrum of electricity before the train arrives. Every morning, I watch the crowds part ways, waiting patiently for the passengers to get off before packing into the nearest car. I lean against the side of the end seats, my head resting against a metal pole. I count the seconds that flutter by. All commutes start and end on the Keiyo Line. It has become synonymous to “home”.

Tuesday’s are for the golden orange Yurakucho Line, a similar hue to the tabby cats lounging in the animal cafés of Ikebukuro. Slow Tuesdays are for warm ceramic mugs of green tea, crisp sheets of notebook paper, and the sounds of highlighters gliding along paper. I settle into an impossibly comfy couch, tuck my feet underneath me, and finally start working on my independent project. Finding the right work-study balance doesn’t seem hard with my head in a book, and a purring cat around my ankles.

Wednesday’s are Hibiya-line-gray, like the smoke billowing from incense burners near Sensō-ji temple. According to legend, waving the smoke on your forehead will even make you smarter! Asakusa is the perfect blend of modern and traditional, where temple and marketplace blend in seamlessly with the bustling city. Stalls line the entrance way, boldly guarded by Kaminarimon the “thunder gate.” I stop to try every snack that catches my eye, from sweet and sour shoyu dango, to sticky sweet azuki manju.

Thursday’s are a bright orange blur, like the JR Chuo Line. I rocket across Tokyo Station, uncomfortably restricted in a knee-length skirt and strappy heels. My black blazer feels like camouflage in the sea of salaryman that crisscross in every direction, looking bleary-eyed and tired. Everyone moves at the same pace, quietly and dutifully dispersing through the city. I get to platform 1 a few minutes early on my way to Nakano Station. In those seconds, everything is calm and quiet. There is no one in the car but me, and for the first time that morning, I am free to breathe.

Friday’s are green, like the money that slips through my fingers when I take the Yamanote Line through Tokyo. The chatter of voices, combat sound-effects from 24/7 arcades, and purikura camera shutters fill the air around me as I wander the streets. Saturday’s are for meeting friends near Hachiko, for scrambling at busy crosswalks, for spending the night at karaoke and waking up without a voice.

Saturday’s are for light blue skies, like the JR Keihintohoku Line, which whisks me away to Yokohama. Sometimes, I stare out the windows and watch the city pass by in a haze of colorful billboards and steel and glass. But normally, the two-hour commute passes in a half-conscious state, and I nod off to the sounds of Radwimps playing from my earbuds. I dream of soup dumplings on silver platters, steaming bowls of friend rice, and noodles stacked high on porcelain plates.

Sunday’s are for taking the Rinkai line to Odaiba and relaxing in the deep blue waters of an onsen (hot spring). The hot water washes over tired feet, soothing strained muscles, and refreshing dull skin. Four hours pass quickly as I relax in the hot water, chatting with friends. Women walk from basin to basin, short white towels hanging from their necks. The outside baths are lined with small, smooth black rocks, and the crisp fall air intermingles with the slow-rising steam. As I wade farther in the bath, I feel my worries melt away into mist.

 

 

Emily Okikawa

<div>Emi Okikawa escaped from Oahu, Hawaii by hiding in the cargo hull of a plane headed for the East Coast.&nbsp;</div>
<div>She was last seen at Franklin &amp; Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.</div>
<div>Recent rumors have surfaced about her being set loose in Tokyo. Be advised, the suspect has been spotted eating her weight in Japanese pastries&nbsp;and sitting in animal cafés for multiple hours a day.</div>

Destination:
Term:
2016 Fall
Home university:
Franklin & Marshall College
Major:
Environmental Studies
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