The trains were beautiful. On the opposite platform a train arrived with sleek lines and large round windows. I impatiently waited for my train.
One or two stations away I had to get off and change over at the Hineno station for the Shingu line – the line which goes all the way through to Kii-Katsuura. Hineno is a small station, but I still needed to make sure that I was on the right platform. A uniformed gentleman announced all the arrivals and departures and when I said “Kii-Katsuura?” he showed me where I needed to wait. He took me to some empty chairs at a sign painted on the plaftorm which said “WOMEN ONLY”.
“Prease. Prease. Sit,” and bowed. I sat.
The wait was about a half an hour and as I sat there I whiled away the time by watching the people of Japan. I couldn’t help but notice the insance amount of fur. Literally every second person wore fur of some sort. I hate fur. No, I am serious: I.Hate.Fur. When I went to Edinburgh earlier in the year I thought the UK had a lot of fur. Japan is fur central compared to the UK. It was absolutely staggering!
When my train finally arrived the uniformed gentleman walked over to me and said “Kii’Katsuura!”. The train stopped and the carriage door stopped EXACTLY at the “WOMEN ONLY” sign. We bowed to each other and I started the final leg of my journey to Taiji.
The journey was long. I came armed with plenty to keep me busy during the ride. It wasn’t necessary. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the stunning scenery. The ride was along the coastline and the landscape was peppered with lush green hills dotted with citrus trees, forest and large wind turbines. The ocean was flat and calm and I couldn’t help thinking of all the dolphins swimming in those waters who could potentially meet a deadly and brutal end in a cove in an obscure little town called Taiji. It was difficult to reconcile the beauty with such sheer brutality.
At one station, a young female passenger embarked and sat in the seat diagonally opposite from me. I was mesmerised. She had the wildest hair I have ever seen, and long, sharply pointed filed nails. She sat and did her make-up and deftly inserted her contact lenses. It will forever remain one of the greatest mysteries how she managed to do that with those nails! I was torn between looking at the scenery and staring at her. Eventually, after she settled in and I have taken enough photos of her as unobtrusively as I could, the novelty wore off.
As we neared my end destination and the announcer’s voice mentioned Taiji and Kii-Katsuure in one breath, I asked two old ladies (in mime of course!) whether the next stop was Kii-Katsuura. It wasn’t. It was Taiji. The stop after was Kii-Katsuura. When I gathered my luggage and headed towards the door, the one old lady looked at me and said: “Be careful!”.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was an omen of things to come.