Off to Tokyo

After breakfast I board the hotel shuttle back to Narita Airport, validate my JR Rail Pass and follow the signs to the Narita Express (NEX) track for Tokyo. You’d think I did this every day—it’s that easy.

Nationals wait on the platform along with non-Japanese, many of whom lug hefty suitcases. Three Swedish women approach to ask whether I am Swedish too. No, Canadian. We chat about our travel plans. Surprised I’m brave enough to travel alone, they marvel that my single carry-on suitcase contains enough for 33 days. It does. Glancing at their monsters, I don’t tell them mine’s not full.

When the Express pulls in, the non-Japanese surge toward the doors creating a crush. Realizing the exiting passengers can barely move, the crowd inches back. They’ve yet to figure out how it’s done here.

Passengers about to board wait in orderly lines at points marked on the floor which indicate the front and back doorways of each car. When the train stops, passengers exit quickly. Only then do those waiting to board enter. The artless elegance of things Japanese.

When the crush is over I roll on, hoist my case into the overhead rack, and settle into my reserved seat. Every convenience is at my finger tips: reclining seat, adjustable headrest, large folding table, window blind, coat hook, mesh storage pocket and laptop connection. Overhead, a flat-screen monitor indicates the scheduled stops in four languages.

A minute later we glide out of the terminal into sunshine pouring gold over autumnal Japan.

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