Feb 15, 2018

Unlikely unhealth in Japan

Let's talk about The Dreaded Bridge.

I live in the city here in Japan. Pretty center if you ask me, although that is debatable. And naturally there are trains around us. And where there are trains there are train lines. And when there are train lines running across a big city, there are bound to be bridges.

Now, I love trains. I really do. There is something about them that makes a core part of me giggle with excitement. My home country has a total number of 0 trains, so when I rode one for the first time I was already in my 20s.

Around where I live there is a supermarket called "Life." It is a very convenient distance from my house, so it is not too close as to attract unsavory teenagers, but it is not too far away either to become a chore to go there every day.

Except for one thing. The Dreaded Bridge!

The bridge has a very popular train line running on top of it. That means trains are running over it at intervals of about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. All day, every day.

Whenever I walk underneath it, there is a giant scream of sounds. Metal rubbing against metal, clicks and clacks of screws and bolts, the heavy train trudging over the bridge at high speeds.

This sound makes the air ripple and the earth rumble. This vibration travels not only outside, but also inside your body. Your hearing becomes nonexistent and any conversation you were having must wait until the train says you can continue. If you were in the middle of a joke, pray you were not at the punchline (which of course you will have, lets be honest), otherwise your story will fall flat.

Unlikely unhealth in Japan photo

There is a term, “infrasound,” which has been hypothesized to be the cause of many bad feelings in the body. The sound cannot be heard, hence the name. But the sound creates a feeling of dread and despair to anyone who is near it. When I heard about this term for the first time, I was certain it was pure bologna. I have never experienced this, so why should it exist! Well, I am a believer now.

When I walk under this bridge with my groceries (bonus points for not being able to cover my ears, although due to the vibrations, this might be moot), I get a sudden anxious feeling followed by wanting to run away. The fight or flight mode suddenly kicks in and I want to throw my groceries at the nearest person and run to the hills. Being the civilized person that I am, I manage to contain those feelings rather quickly and pass under the bridge without alerting anyone.

It took me a few months to figure this out. It was quite the revelation. I had been dreading to go to the supermarket without knowing why. It was not the supermarket itself that was giving me anxiety. It was the walk over there.

Unfortunately this is Japan, so space is a luxury. This train line cuts right across the city so it is not as if I can find a way around it. It is there to stay. This bridge is one of my main reasons for believing that the countryside is better for your body and soul. There are hidden dangers everywhere. And I do believe this bridge is dangerous. I do not call it The Dreaded Bridge for nothing. I honestly believe that a feeling of dread and anxiety every day will compound into something that will cause serious health issues later in life. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day I will succumb.

Wherever we live, there are unseen, unheard possible dangers around. Being aware and taking proper measures to avoid them is important for your mental health. I for one have started to go around to the train station and through there so I don´t have to deal with the sound of a full-speed train racing through.

What sneaky things have you noticed have affected your health over the years?



European living the Japanese dream in Kansai