Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Little Bit About the Japanese Subway

I love the subways in Japan. As I'm wandering around Nagoya, unable to read any street signs, it is a comfort to know that if I can find my way to a subway station I will be able to figure out where I am and how to get anywhere I want to go. Sometimes finding a station can be a bit of a challenge, though, and the first day I went out adventuring I ended up totally lost. I asked some charming construction workers where the Jiyugaoka station was, using one of the few Japanese phrases I can remember. They launched into a very lengthy discussion which I eventually figured out was about how I was nowhere near Jiyugaoka, and they were trying to decide which would be the best station for me to go to. I eventually arrived at a station, and while wandering around lost I got to see some cool stuff, including a firetruck heading out to a call (the firemen dress so formally!).

Here is the view outside of Jiyugaoka (the station closest to James' house).

Another thing that I love about the subways is that they are full of posters telling you how to be safe while riding the train.

Don't get your finger caught in the doors!

This danger also applies if you are a bear.

Watch out for your tail, cat!

The rules of behavior on the subway are much more strict that I am used to. No cellular phones, no eating, and if you must talk it is done in a quiet tone to the person next to you.

There are some great posters dealing with this stuff, too.

"Metro Manners Lesson 5: Hold your backpack."

"Metro Manners Lesson 6: Turn your music down."

I am telling you all of this to give you context for the following story.

I was sitting on the subway next to James. He leans over to me and whispers: "If there is any way you can take a picture of that woman's bag, do it!"

I give him a look that says, "I can totally do that."

His look: "NO! NO! I was kidding!"

My look: "Don't worry, I am so stealthy. Just watch."

At this point, I oh-so-quietly slip my digital camera out of my bag. I hold it on my lap, an use my purse to shield it. The viewfinder is adjustable, so I am able to angle the camera while keeping it on my lap. Check me out!

I get it lined up just right, and take the picture.

Apparently, I forgot to turn off not only the sound (a lovely, loud "WWWHIIIRRRR-CLICK!") but also the flash.

oh . . . . .my . . . god . . . . how embarrassing.

The woman with the bag I photographed very politely walks to the other end of the train car.

The man sitting on my right moves ever so slightly away from me.

The silence in the train is palpable.

I am mortified.

James is horrified.

And I have to sit in that shame for three more train stops.

My reward for enduring this scarring event is the following picture:

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