White-gloved fingers point with reverence, precision; polished black shoes move to their position on pristine platform tile. Suit sleeves are inched back to study the hands of well-worn watches. The train should be arriving, and so of course it does.
Elegant and reliable and meticulously-designed Shinkansen trains slice thru the countryside. They’re among the swiftest in the world, yet as you sit and watch your surroundings blur past, all is silent. Stewards walk down the aisles and warmly greet their new passengers, making sure all are comfortable. Reaching the end of each train car, they turn and bow, and move to the next. These routines are performed with the same, genuine respect that’s injected in every nuance of service as you traverse Japan, and it’s infectious.
From the world-renowned bullet trains to the underground metro, the routine of travel is taken seriously. Commuters line up orderly, ride quietly, exit graciously– conduct tacitly suggested by those ushering them. Their uniforms represent their line of work, but it’s clear by the manner in which they wear them, they stand for plenty more. A heritage, a home. And as hosts of such a home, there’s cause for pride.
There’s an easiness to it all. Reliability in a trade where you aren’t used to finding it, and it frees you up a bit. To focus on a job of your own. To read a book, catch up on rest. Or simply to observe it all, and appreciate the diligence which grants you such permission.‹ Back to journal