Our country train barrels along; at the helm our train driver in his captain’s hat and white cloves, sounds the horn — waarp waaarp. It feels like a toy train, like we are in the land of Noddy as we rock from side to side, charge along the clickety-clack tracks, pull into a toy station in a toy town; neat toy houses with green trimmed topiary in each tiny front yard.
rush of steel
bowing as we pass
Through a dark tunnel then out into the light again, cutting a path through dry rice paddies lying fallow since harvest time. At the edge of the rice fields, houses, buildings, habitation. A bell rings, an announcement comes over, the driver waves his white-gloved hands then is still again. A fit looking Japanese couple in pom pom hats rise from seats lining the carriage walls, clipping back pack buckles, unfolding their hiking sticks, getting ready to alight. A grey haired man in a lime green ski jacket stretches his legs, flexes his feet, then saunters to the door. A smiling middle aged couple across from me share some snacks from the convenience store — rice balls and seaweed-wrapped misubi. Our trains stops, doors open, people get off but no one gets on.
at Chinoseki, a long wait
haiku writers all in a row
with hot knees
Air rushes in, a train arrives at the next platform, people get off and scuttle away, some cross the platform to our train, this must be the reason for the wait. An elderly Japanese business man carrying his black business bag, a short Japanese lady in a black quilted hat, girl in leopard skin boots. In the drivers cabin, a change of drivers. A young woman in stewardess hat, white gloves, neat navy skirt and jacket uniform, takes the reigns, sitting still as a mouse awaiting the green signal. The former driver, stands at white attention next to her, his solemn expression, staring ahead.
passing his gravestone every day
the train driver’s daughter
keeps her promise
(c) Jan Cornall, Japan, Nov 2016.