So, I leave Shibuya (somewhat frazzled as an overly friendly Starbucks patron had spent 2.5 hours randomly staring at me) and walked into the wrong entrance. By wrong entrance I mean, I entered the station building, but no where near the subway entrance. These stations are structural mazes meant to test one’s lateral thinking or animal instincts: okay so I’m able to feel wind on my hands and smell cigarettes...there must be a way out.
I stared at the Japanese characters for awhile, and realized that IF I had brought the English transit map that Linden had given me I would be able to figure this out. Realizing I wasn't close to the subway I thought...Okay, well “Yamanote Line” sounds familiar. I paid the same fair as getting to Shibuya, surely that’s enough…Did I mention that I was doing this at rush hour?
Inadvertently, and not-surprisingly, I traveled the “wrong” way. I’ll explain what I mean by wrong. I didn’t realize this, but Yamanote goes in a circle. My destination, Ueno, is on the other side. There is no wrong way. However, there is a sliding price scale depending on your destination. You pay your fair at the beginning. Fare adjustment (if necessary) consists of a relatively simple conversation with a ticket agent if you’ve overpaid, or underpaid. It was rush hour...I didn't feel like conversing with Police or Ticket Agents.
The JR (Trains) Map (Right)
These maps are my 2 best friends when without my sister.
Realizing I needed some time to re-think my plan home I jumped off at Harijuku (Lind loves this area).
My trip home on the JR line was comfortable, having successfully won my battle for a seat. (I had to compete with an elderly woman for my train seat – For those who might think less of me I'm told this is common in
Getting into Ueno I was again confronted by the rush hour river (Think: Finding Nemo and how the turtles had to swim into the Gulf Stream…similar skills at merging apply when entering into rush hour left-leaning lanes.) I nearly smashed my head against the ceiling of one of the tunnels. They have painted yellow warning strips for tall people. At the last second I saw the concrete and ducked.
Finally, the subway arrived.
The people were squished so tight a man’s cheekbone was pressed against the glass doors.
I’m supposed to get on one of these cars?!!
Gob-smacked I backed up and decided I’d try my chances with the next train.
Next train was the same; oh my God I need a picture of this.
I held my breath and shoved my way on. I felt a decided push from behind. Unbelievable, the train station attendant (complete with white gloves) was shoving someone behind me on to the train. A moment of feeling crushed and then I had arrived in Iriya (Pro-nounced eel-ee-ya). Relieved, I let myself fall out of the subway car and chuckled all the way home.
Ah well, I feel like I’ve passed some