On my way to the sento, I passed this old house on a busy corner, across from a “family restaurant” featuring its own parking lot. In addition to a large sidewalk garden, the home features a welcoming dog above the mail box. I think the dog looks good with the new year decoration hanging above him.
Day and night you can see people fishing in these stocked ponds on the Outer Moat, across from Ichigaya station. The contrast between the busy transit corridor, the beautiful moat, and the leisurely city fishers is enchanting.
It’s hard for people outside Tokyo to imagine what using Tokyo transit is like. The busiest station, Shinjuku station, handles over 2.5 million users per day, more than any other station in the world. And, yes, early morning rush hour and the last trains around midnight are not comfortable. This photo is from 10:23 am on a Saturday morning in the Marunouchi line, and you can see that the train is quite full.
What does it feel like to be surrounded by so many people on your way to work, school, errands, or fun? Office workers, school children, families, construction workers, teens, dogs in bags, babies, elderly people. I find it exhilarating, intimate, and educational. Mostly people pretend they are in their own space and do not look directly at others. Courtesies include taking children’s shoes off before letting them stand on the cushioned seats, and drying umbrellas to keep the train clean.
Many people hide behind earphones, portable game players, comics and books. Others are sleeping. Yet there is no mistaking that you are in a shared space, one person among masses going about their lives. If you keep your eyes open, you can sense that others are also quietly observing. Taking the train is a good way to get out of your own head space, and sense other people’s moods, fashions, and presence.
Do you know this flowering shrub? It’s a super charming plant that you see all over Tokyo in spring called yuki yanagi, or snow willow (雪柳). In Latin it’s Spiraea thunbergii, native to Japan and China. I like how hardy it is, and its elegantly weeping shape. The photo above was from the same busy street in Yotsuya where I saw the dandelion last week. Here’s the context image.