We walked home from work on Sunday, and for some odd reason, Mark chose to walk a bit of a different route. A little longer, and taking us across the tracks from our house, but the weather was nice, and we figured we should take advantage of it.
At the first track crossing we came to, the lights were flashing and the barriers were down. We stood around waiting for the train to pass, but it didn’t. People were leaning over the barrier to look down the tracks. So did we, and we saw that a train was stopped on the track heading TOWARDS Ikebukuro. No big deal, they usually start back up in a few minutes and get going.
So we walked to the NEXT crossing, and saw that the train still hadn’t moved. At this crossing, the train was right in front of us, stopped, and there was a big group of people walking up along the road next to the track barriers, looking under the train. We figured they were looking to see what was on the other side, at the other barrier, since sometimes the barrier won’t go down, or someone is too close to the track, or something.
2 more crossings later, we were able to get across and walk back towards our house. When we got closer to our own crossing, we passed the ambulances. 6 of them. They brought out a stretcher as we approached and ran onto the tracks. At our crossing, the police were pushing the people who had gathered back, and I saw them hoisting something, which turned into a body as I watched, onto the stretcher. They brought it towards us and loaded it into an ambulance, and it sped away. The others stayed, I guess waiting in case there was more than one person.
From our upstairs window, which faces the tracks, we watched as men in police uniforms walked along the length of the train, looking under and apparently searching for something. I think they were searching for body parts, but I’m not sure.
What was surreal was the people on the train. They sat, totally oblivious, playing on phones or talking to each other, smiling and laughing, as if someone had not just thrown him/herself under their express train. Maybe they didn’t know, maybe they didn’t care, maybe there was no announcement from the conductor about why they had stopped.
The whole time, the barriers stayed down and the alert bells kept ringing. This person, whose body went under the train, probably didn’t die immediately upon being hit. It was clear they’d been dragged. I wonder if they were still alive when they got put on the stretcher. I wonder if they heard the ringing and knew what it was, or if they could even process what was happening around them.
It’s an odd fact of life here in Japan (Tokyo especially) that jumping in front of a train is the preferred way to go. It’s not reported in the news unless it causes a BIG commotion, because the simple fact is that it happens pretty much every day, in some part of the city or another.
It’s also odd, to me at least, that someone would choose to throw themselves in front of a train here, at our tiny station, rather than a larger one with faster trains. But maybe out here, the impact on lives is lower. The fact is that there’s no way someone could have ‘just wandered’ onto the tracks. There is a barrier, people stop and wait, and generally people like to follow the rules. No one WANTS to get caught on the tracks with a train coming, unless it’s for one reason, and one reason only.
This is a video from my crossing:
There are a few different types of trains that go past our house: local, express, semi-express, and a few limited expresses going further distances. The person who jumped made sure it was an express train going at a faster speed.
Men in uniform were on the tracks all night, searching for parts, probably compiling their report on what happened, and in the morning, they were still there, literally removing EVERY stone they could find which was stained with blood.
And everyone walks across the tracks like nothing happened. And everyone sits on the train and has no idea about what happened. And we just keep going, pretending it didn’t happen.