Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ikebukuro Station

This picture evokes vivid memories.

April 2013, I'm underground in Tokyo, in Ikebukuro Station, the second busiest train station in the world with over 2.7 million passengers a day.

I never walk up on the surface of Tokyo. I've just arrived from Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, the nether regions of Japan, to catch a train back out of Tokyo on the Seibu-Chichibu private railway. My self-imposed assignment is to be a Tokyo resident who needs to get away from the mega-city for the weekend. I'm heading to hiking country.

I'm walking past the underground entrance to the Seibu Department Store; this flagship store and the Seibu-Chichibu railway have the same owners. I imagine myself invisible in the crowd; nobody looks at me directly, we all float through this busy underground world, maintaining our personal spaces. Everybody is on a mission; I'm on a fake mission.

I notice the two greeters at the welcome desk in the department store. I stop and take a picture. They notice me and start moving towards the entrance, presumably to pose for a formal bow.

This is not what I had planned. I was invisible, merely an observer: I hadn't intended to change what I was observing. I bow quickly towards them, they bow back, and I become part of the crowd again.

The best travel is little things.

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