Japanese train stations are some of the most modern and efficient places I have ever seen, but here in the countryside, life moves at a slower pace. Our trains are still generally on time and used by the masses for work and leisure, but many inaka train stations here are rustic and barren, minus the waiting seats and vending machines.
But at these desolate places, I see stories.
Inside Nakanamerikawa station (中滑川駅), part of Toyama’s Dentetsu line, there is a wall mural that always catches my eye when I walk past it. In the mural, a young couple embrace. They look more Western to me than Japanese, but they could easily pass for two characters in a manga. The slender woman is clasping onto the man’s broad chest like her life depends on it. Her blue skirt is flowing so that it looks like an ocean wave. The man, wearing a tailored brown coat and slacks, looks ahead as if he is about to leave her to serve in a war. Duty beckons, he thinks, and he must protect his woman and his country.
I don’t know the facts or history behind this mural, but I am drawn to it nonetheless.
A few feet away from the mural, there is an elderly woman who works at a sweets shop frequented by students. She sells fresh crepes and ice cream in a rundown train station. She is the only worker I have seen at the shop. Except for the junior high school and high school students who buy sweets and giggle on the nearby bench, her only company is spiders and Winnie the Pooh dolls. She is no more than 4 feet 11 inches tall and looks about 85~87 years old. She stands with a slight hunch, always wearing a checkered apron and bowing or smiling when I walk past her.
To me, she is the woman in the mural.
She is smiling, and waiting. Waiting for her husband to return, and waiting for the days when she does not feel so alone.
Sidenote: This is my 100th post! Thank you to anyone who has ever read any of my entries, commented or simply inspired me to write.