Saturday, January 15, 2011

物哀れ On the Train

8:33am Shinkasen departing from Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka. 11:57am Shin-Osaka to Fukuoka. 2:27pm arriving at Hakata. 4pm meeting.

In mere 6 hours I saw the crystal blue sky of Tokyo and Yukohama, snow flurries of Gifu-ken, overcast mountain ranges across Kansai, and calm winter sun again nearing Fukuoka.

There is something amazingly soothing about sitting on a high-speed train and just letting different landscapes and scenery fast dashing by. It is like sitting across from the immense body of ocean water, in which the rise and fall of the tidal waves impact all your senses, yet your mind remains surprisingly calm, knowing that no matter how the waves change or break, you are steady and could always remain steady.

Fall 2000, the first 7-day Shinkansen trip was taken across the Tohoku/Northeast region of Japan. Accompanied by a friend during the first half of the trip and finishing the rest of the trip alone, I took long walks in the countryside of Japan, was taken away by the beautiful fall foliage, and had plenty of inner dialogues with nature.

Spring 2001, another week-long Shinkansen trip, from Kyoto all the way to Kyushu region and back, stopping by Himeji on the return route and bidding my temporary temporary farewell to Japan after a fulfilling school year of study abroad in Kyoto.

Summer 2005, from Tokyo to Kyoto down to Hiroshima then back, squeezing in Aichi Expo in the middle, I was living out the best of my last week of summer holidays before returning to Boston for another 6 months worth of winter dread. Not a day went by that I did not try to soak up the sun and wonder how I could preserve it and bring it back to bean town.

Fall 2008, from Tokyo to Yamaguchi back to Kyoto and Osaka and spending a day in Ashiya, I walked through the unfamiliar neighborhood searching for the shadow of a familiar one. In the surrounding of unfamiliarity there was familiarity; in the seeing of someone else's past there was the realization of my own.

There was and still is always this quest for something in the distant future, the reflection of the past, confusion about the present pain, delight, or contentment.

The same summer of 2005, A. came to Tokyo to visit me for a few days. Sitting next to each other on the train home one night and staring at our vague reflections on the window across from us, A. popped the question.

"Can you imagine us seeing our own reflections of old age and wrinkly faces across the train years from now?"

It's the same question I always ask myself when I sit next to my mom on the train and watch her reflection across the train compartment next to mine.

"I could. I just don't know how I would feel by then," I said to A.

"Seeing just my own reflection alone or actually having someone else next to me, starting at the reflections together," I said to myself, keeping this thought quietly inside.

All the train rides and inner dialogues alone, watching my very own reflection flashing by as the dusk approached, all these years.

There is something amazingly soothing about these rides, yet something utterly lonesome as well.


【物哀れ】- なんとなくあわれであること。しみじみした感興を誘うこと。(辞書 大辞泉)

梅ちゃん at 10:27:00 PM



at 2/14/11, 10:39 AM Anonymous kmwang said...


對不起, 這封留言可能突兀, 希望妳不會介意. 我在網路上閱讀有關龍應台女士的文章, 然後Google有個連結連到妳網誌一篇她在美國演講的紀錄. 我看了一下作者名字, 覺得很耳熟, 想了一想, 發覺我跟你是幼稚園同學(打幼稚園同學時我笑了一下, 幼稚園算同學嗎? 對了, 那間幼稚園在大安區, 某大學的附屬幼稚園. 至於為什麼會記得, 可能妳的名字比較特別吧!)

打了這麼長, 沒啥特別意思, 就覺得很妙而已! 似乎妳現在是在學術圈發展, 加油! :)


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