【英語も学べる日本文化エッセイ】For the LOVE of Trains!/電車が好きすぎて(和訳付き)

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(by Brittney Curtis)

True story and it may come as a shocker, but I have never been on a train my entire life until moving to Japan. I became fascinated on how to hold the handle. The idea of wanting to blend in, which is impossible by the way, as I am a tall American! So, learning how people were holding the handle, the cool Japanese way became a yearlong journey.  I began noticing the various styles and how interesting they are which has inspired my book! Here is a sneak peak of my photo guide of the many funky styles of handle holding on Japanese trains!

I got to experience the rush hour with the train pushers twice and not by choice I didn’t know what was happening! I must say seeing videos of train pushers online doesn’t give it justice until you are there in real life being squeezed into the train like a can of sardines! Just when you think the doors are closing, oh no think again, 10 more people are being stuffed into the train car, its absolute nuts! There is no such thing as personal space and if that’s something you need then its best to wait until the next train arrives because the personal bubble doesn’t exist during rush hour! – to the point where you literally can’t move!

Additionally, my experience as I am taller, was having a little old lady’s head shoved in my arm pit, all you can do is laugh, well for me and my friends anyway! It seems during this particular time people tend to get very creative when trying to hold the handle (if they can reach it) which I found to be very interesting and had to try it for myself! Let go and just go with the flow – if you can’t beat them then join them, but with a touch of laughter of course especially if you find yourself in the middle of a salaryman sandwich!

Not all countries are privileged enough to be as advanced in the transportation sector. I am beyond impressed with the magnificent train infrastructure that Japan has. Being able to travel all over Japan, still blows my mind! Something I still don’t quite understand is how the trains are exactly on time every time? – unless a major unforeseen delay of course. Maybe it’s because Japan has a large population of people taking the train, with many trains or maybe because punctuality is in the culture. This is something that I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around and will remain a mystery to me!

I absolutely love the different themed trains, especially the Pikachu train that’s my all-time favorite! I think it’s a brilliant idea having themed trains from magical to modern and kawaii to elegant, Japan really has thought of everything when it comes to making your train ride a blast, not to mention the stunning views! I never imagined some trains would be equipped with foot baths, fine dining, sake bars, and smoking lounges, you never want to leave! And the quality service, you feel as if you are on a luxury airplane but even better because it’s a train. When it comes to riding on a shinkansen this is a next level experience, the lightning fast speeds the train travels are remarkable, Japan has truly mastered trains and train rider experience.  

On a final note, one of my all-time favorite train experiences in Japan was having an opportunity to “unofficially” load coal into an old steam locomotive on the SL Minakami Joetsu line. The fact that Japan has preserved and restored this classic steam locomotive that was made in the late 1940’s offers the train riders a time travel experience. Riding on this old school locomotive is such an enjoyable experience with beautiful scenery, plus hearing the sound of the whistle is truly magical you feel like you are living in a fairy tale.


電車が好きすぎて by ブリトニー・カーティス




すべての国がこれほど進歩した交通機関を持てるわけじゃない。日本の鉄道の充実ぶりは、ちょっと感動的なレベルですごい。日本全国どこへでも行けるなんて、今でも頭がぶっ飛んじゃう。それでもひとつよく分からないのは、日本の電車が決して遅れないこと。想定外の事態でも生じない限り、毎回時間どおりにやって来る。あれって一体どうやってるんだろう。日本ではたくさんの電車が走っていて、たくさんの人が電車に乗るから? 時間に正確な文化だから? これについてはなかなか頭では理解できず、いまだにその謎は解けずにいる。



(翻訳 by とら猫
(c) Brittney Curtis

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World-traveling writer, loves trains and Goshuin.

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