Aaaargh, this makes me want to go back

There I was, minding my own business, peacefully surfing the ‘net like any good war-loving citizen . . . when I came across something that tugged on my travelling heartstrings like no other. You know how it happens: click here, a link takes you there, and from thence elsewhere – a bit like an hour wasted idly chasing references on Wikipedia.

It’s only been a few months since my fourth trip to Japan (now almost fully documented in my other blog), and plans are now being laid for the fifth, but this little something just added a new impetus to the impulse. So what is it?

Forget the food. I can have decent Japanese grub in my own corner of the world.

Forget the culture. I’ve got a substantial collection of books about Japan that I can dip into at any moment, and the interwebs can supply the rest.

Forget the anime. (Yes, you heard me.) I’m up to my ears in Blu-rays – some still quite fresh from overseas orders and waiting to be played – so there’s no need to go any further than the ground-floor den and its HD TV for my usual fix.

No, it’s something that (quite literally) plays in the background of urban life, ubiquitous and underappreciated, adorable and addictive – something that screams “Japan!!!” far more loudly than any other aspect of its society, its history, its visual and performing arts.

I really shouldn’t be surprised. Every time I stepped onto a station platform (especially in Tōkyō), every time I stood eagerly anticipating the activities of the day ahead, every time I trudged wearily on my way back to the hotel and felt like both legs were about to give way from a long day of walking, there it would be – as reliable as the sunrise, ready to herald the imminent arrival or departure of the means with which I can bring myself to wherever my heart desires.

(Mm, didn’t know I was capable of spitting out such treacly rubbish.)

Perhaps it’s a good thing that I don’t live there. Otherwise, if the comments posted on this forum are anything to go by, my tiny spark of interest might grow into an obsession and I’ll be yet another half-crazed tet-chan standing by the platform, camera at the ready, as eager to capture an image of the latest EMU as a determined paparazzo would chase after the celebrity target of the day.

Idle weekend rant over. Back to our regular programming – or static silence, as the case may be. Cheerio.

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