Japan 7 - Slow Train to Hakone Ryoken


The Romance train to Hakone. It has been a continuously interesting morning and we have managed to make it onto the train that will take us to our next destination – an authentic Ryoken north of Tokyo. I managed to hold down a hot cup of strong black tea with steamed soy milk and a couple of slices of thick white toast with butter and jam.

My stomach has settled now that I am on the train but there were more bouts of malaise  similar to something I experienced when I took in the amoeba in Egypt. The train – filled with Asians of many sorts eating chock-full bentos of smelly fish and fish cake byproducts with strong pickles and scents similar to that of sweaty socks and burnt carp guts had my stomach doing the rolly-polly when we first got on. (hence the kerchief over my face). At first as we swaggered down the aisle of the train with our mass of personal effects it seemed not unlike what I imagine would be entering the belly of a large whale.

Daniela is still eating – almost squirrel-like noshing on all sorts of bagged things bought off of carts driving by with tiny billboards of their offerings on either side. She tangos with the female attendants with broken language, grunts, points and defining gesticulations of all sorts. She picks up products, consults magazine menus, stiffs and rummages through the carts contents like a beachcomber searching for just the right shell to add to their collection. Daniela chastises me for sitting in the window seat and not looking out – instead typing again to get all of this down.

The view is grey rain with urban sprawl and semi-high rise apartments. My stomach is burning so I take a sip of overly strong hot green tea. It helps. we dive in and out of darkness through tunnels like a lamprey swirling through its maze of caves. Daniela makes a random observation of how there are lots of Italian restaurants here.

It is simply stated in between crunching on s mixture of nuts, and whatever else she can pull out of a large ziplock freezer bag busting out of the mouth of her purse. I eat one of her mother’s hard flour and water knot biscuits – just one and slosh down a little more green tea. The train is filling up as we head north – stops are frequent and the descriptions are not in English. The train – addressed as “The Romance train” Is called so due to the fact that there are moveable armrests in between the tandem seats. Daniela informed me of this while I staggered at the ticket office burping stomach acid through a shit-eating-grin at the overly helpful staff that even printed out a full color google® map for us free of charge. Daniela just knocked over my tea. She just ate a cube of white chocolate. On the box is the word DARS in big blue letters. She is sorting out her squirrel nest of goods diving up garbage and reducing the size of things into handy and accessible uniformities. It’s time for me to have a look out the window.

Another random announcement from Daniela: “It’s not called 7-11 it’s called 7-11 holdings.” The rate she is going we may have earned some shares before this trip is over. Now she’s eating cheddar Goldfish.