Thursday, April 10, 2014

End of the Line

I'm on a fast train when I see a single train track peeling off into the distance. I want to go where that track is going.

Maybe the end of that single track is a remote place I can use as the start of an "Ekikhara hike," a hike from a train station.

Beyond the End of the Line

I'm curious about "The Other" world beyond the big cities and busy tourist centers.

When I was a kid I asked my aunt where our local city bus ended up after we got off at our stop. On her suggestion, we took the bus all the way to the terminus to find out.

The Other was a bland housing development, but my curiosity was appeased, and I learned a good lesson.

The Other in Literature

There's a recurring theme in the small sample of Japanese novels I've read. It's the "floating world" of Tokyo offset by the wild Other world.

The Other might be far-northern Kyushu (Osamu Dazai's dark "No longer Human") or Shikoku (Haruki Murakami's wonderful "Kafka on the Shore").

Matsuo Bashō was seeking The Other, an untamed world well beyond 17th Century Edo (now Tokyo).

These are places many Tokyoites will never visit.

Novelists and a poet have helped bring me to Yakushima Island (off southern Kyushu), Dejima (Nagasaki), Shikoku, the countryside near Kanazawa (northern Honshu), Sado Island (off northern Honshu), and (last year) Hokkaido.

End of the Line in Japan
Today, the end of the line is Tokyo-Narita Airport where I'll take a nonstop home to Minneapolis.

I'll be back.

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