Tag Archives: Train

Pink Runners


Mother holds
her daughter
on the train
to Tokyo.

Heavy-headed girl
wants to sleep.

Mother pulls a
small plastic bag
from her purse,
a bag designed
for vegetables
at the grocery store,
and she removes
each small shoe,
cotton candy runners,
carefully lifts
each foot and
places it back down
and she packs
the small shoes
in the plastic bag
and tucks the bag
in her purse
and her daughter
pulls in closer,
wraps her arms
around her mother
and looks
around the train
as if to say
I am so lucky

Just like a Japanese girl


On the train home from Tokyo
seats always open up at Kikuna
as if its the last station
before we change galaxies.
I pounce on a vacant seat,
almost crushing a ten year old boy
with spiky hair and a navy blazer
gunning for the same spot.
His friend drags him out
by the scruff of his neck
like a kitten.

There’s still an open seat
beside me.
The three boys look at the seat
and then at me
my strange foreign ampleness
and my red hair.

They stare. I return
to the reading of poems
on my iPhone while Ed Sheeran
croons into my headphones.

At Yokohama Station
we enter the next galaxy
in our train universe.
Black suits disembark
and another seat opens up,
easily enough space
for three little boy butts.
The boys eye the seats
form a little huddle
near me
no longer afraid
but not able to commit
to sitting down.

At Minato-Mirai they tumble
One has forgotten
his umbrella, a good one
not the clear one
from a convenience store
and he runs back on the train
where I hand him the umbrella
and he’s bowing backwards
tripping off the car.
Arigato gozaimasu
he says.
Thank you very much.

His friends are halfway up the stairs,
halfway to their next adventure.
Umbrella boy waves
or something
as the train pulls away.

Perhaps, over dinner,
he’ll tell his parents
“There was this woman
on the train
and she was so round
and more pink than white
and she had red hair
Yeah, like really red.
Just like a Japanese girl.”

The train to Tokyo is my teacher

trainThe train to Tokyo
is my teacher.
I’ve seen
skyscraper shoes,
people sleeping standing up,
silver mini-skirts,
shark-bite knapsacks
and train benches blooming
with kimonos.

kimono2These rides
between Tokyo and Yokohama
are like little plays,
40-minutes dramas
standing room

trainEvery ride helps me
know Japan
a little better…
one express-train vignette
at a time.

katoA friend and I
were returning from the city
(this is how I think of Tokyo
even though Yokohama
is home to 4 million).

streetWe’d been to Azabu-Juban
and Hiro-o for the day.
A late lunch at a French restaurant
where they served our salads
in a glass

restaurantsaladAt Naka-Meguro,
the car was crowded
we were grateful to find seats.

By Kikuna Station
the aisle cleared
and I saw him.

manOh! That face.

{That’s a teddy bear
peeking out of his bag.}

The train ride
from Tokyo
makes me

saturday morning kawaii

kawaiisaturday morning
a seat on the train
to tokyo.
sun streaming live.

little bear,
peeks out
of school girl’s pocket.

the uniform:
dark grey pleated skirt,
light grey socks to the knees,
olive green blazer
with rounded pockets.
green cardigan
with mustard border,
a safety pin
in place of top button.

that silver safety pin.
it gets me.

girl reaches
for her phone.
light brown bear
tethered to
school girl’s phone
by green and purple ribbon.
dressed in ladybug hat
and outfit,
bear’s black eyes
are smiling.

in japan.

kawaii-cute bear
we are
all the same.
not uniform

in a city
of grey concrete,
black salary man-suits,
and khaki school blazers,
is an essential item
in uniformity-survival kits.

Tokyo Train Stories

A young woman
stands on the train
across from me.
Her short skirt is silver
like the metallic stuff
in windshields
that keeps the car cool
in summer.
Her high tops are silver
and her knapsack,
a toothy shark,
takes a bite from the pole
on which she
leans and reads.

A small girl spots the woman in silver.
Eyes widen
as she points,
whispers to her mom
who sees me watching
and shushes her.

When a seat comes free
at the next stop
the silver woman sits down
near the gawking girl –
A (replanted) Mexican jumping bean –
who cannot contain her joy.

I hope she’s thinking,
“When I grow up, I’m going to wear
a short silver skirt
and a knapsack
in the shape of a shark.”

At Yokohama Station
a small Asian woman
and her tall foreign partner
enter my car.
She wears
traditional Japanese kimono-pajamas
{I have no idea if such a thing exists
but that’s what they look like to me.}
The kimono-pajamas are purple and fuchsia
with threads of gold
that dance in the light
like kids at recess
or experienced house thieves.
At six and a half feet
her partner dwarfs her.
He may be the whitest man in Japan.
His hair is shaved close to his head
and he wears sunglasses like Robocop.
He too wears the kimono-pajamas,
black, white and grey striped
sear-sucker shorts
and kimono top.

It is a great tribute
to the generosity
of the Japanese people
that no one on the train
rolls their eyes
at the foreign man
in his pajamas.
They seem not even to notice.

On the return trip
we stop at Den-en-chōfu,
a particularly affluent neighbourhood.
I notice that guard rails
prevent “jumpers”
from ending their lives
on this section of the tracks.

An older woman sits in Courtesy seating.
Black hair with a beautiful cobweb
of grey,
perfectly pressed linen trousers
and Bladerunner blouse.
She holds a dark grey hat
with a brown band
and a book covered
in brown paper
dotted with tiny evergreen trees.
She reads for a few stops
and then falls asleep,
her head drifts back gently,
coming to rest
like snowfall
on the window.

Her shoes are mint green
Mary Janes
with a small kitten heel.
Made of the softest leather,
the toes are scuffed,
Shoes from a different time.

A school girl sits
Grey plaid skirt, starched white blouse
and a cream woolen vest
in spite of soaring temperatures.
On her feet, a pair of converse high tops.
Fuschia, turquoise, green-apple and purple
I detect a pair of lips
but the train slows
and the converse girl
is gone
taking with her
the secret language
of her shoes.

A teenage boy walks through this car
on his way to the next.
He is what our kids call “half” ~
one Japanese parent,
one foreign parent.
Tee-shirt and board shorts.
Long curly hair in a ponytail.
He smiles,
the happiest on the train.