At home on the train – nose picking and sleeping with abandon
Less attention to detail in my booking on airbnb landed me in a families apartment about a half hour outside of Tokyo, rather than in the city where I expected to be staying. This meant I ended up spending a lot of time on the Tokyo trains going back and forth. Trains crowded with people, many of whom were wearing white surgical masks over their nose and mouths as in other parts of Japan, in an effort to prevent them from getting sick. Seeing so many masked well dressed people was not a sight I got easily accustomed to, I was continually startled by it.
Many of those not wearing masks were frequently busy cramming their fingers up their noses, with no attempt at discretion. 35 million people in the metropolitan area adds up to a lot of germs. Despite trying to move away from the offenders, I started to succumb after about a day and a half, and wound up with a lousy cold that lingered for almost two weeks of my stay.
The other thing that I observed in even greater numbers on the trains was rampant sleeping. Not just dozing, but collapsed leaning as close to horizontal as possible. The sleepers were everywhere, and I couldn't figure out how they managed not to miss their stops. I watched one adorable very small little boy head bob all the way to the end of the line on the bus in Hiroshima without letting go of his oversize school bag and bus pass.
The one time I let myself join in and doze off on the train back from Tokyo I got caught in some strange vortex route that was the only one not clearly marked on my map – I went on a 40 minute round trip ride and had to start all over. It seems like there is a knack to the accurately timed sleep.