Jul 28, 2018

A Strange Event on the Shinkansen

    On the way from our great adventure abroad, my family chose to take the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai, a go-to choice for the traveler who lacks the time for an overnight bus or the money for a connecting flight.
    A Strange Event on the Shinkansen photo
Admittedly, this picture is from a previous shinkansen trip, mid-week, unreserved and uncrowded, unlike the packed train we were on when this story occurred.

    No sooner had the train started moving toward Ueno than we heard a strange utterance from a few rows back. The sound was a kind of light wailing from the vocal chords of an elderly woman or nearly pubescent male. As we could not see the person clearly, my family assumed some sort of neuro-atypical spasm rather than anything dangerous or a death rattle.    
    Unfortunately, the woman who made the sound also immediately passed out and her family looked around, silent panicked expressions attempting to find help before an adult male of their group ran to get the conductor. My husband wispered in English across the aisle that he wasn't sure if the woman was still alive.
    We pulled into Ueno station and stopped, an announcement I had no hope of understanding sounding out in keigo above us. The reason was clear enough to anyone in our car-- someone had to help this woman.
    After a few minutes, a wheel chair was summoned and she was put into it, coherent now and debating with the cabin attendants as to the nature and level of her problems. It was clear that her and her family were leaving to seek immediate medical attention, but her pride was hurt by her physical ailments.

    What I find most interesting about this is how quiet this whole ordeal is in Japan. In the US, I imagine the family of the passed out woman calling for help out loud before anyone went to retrieve the conductor. The five minute stop for a reserved seat train on a weekday evening just before the weekend would have met with many audible grumbles from the businessmen and others with plans being postponed potentially indefinitely. At best, it would have been a hushed verbal annoyance. In Japan, everyone quietly peers back at those people in trouble and express concern over annoyance.

    It's nice to be back.



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.