I travelled into Osaka today to see a friend's string quartet concert. Concerts in Japan have subtle differences to those in America. There is always an encore, often either the performers or the audience will not be wearing shoes, and the performers–if they are women–wear dresses usually only warranted for a concerto performance in America. And they may say it's the last piece, but what they are really saying is, There will be an encore. Because there will always be an encore. Otherwise I was surprised at how translatable the sentiments in the American String Quartet by Dvorak could be to a small room in Japan.
On the way to and from the concert I had a lot of train time. I love train time. Were it not cheaper and more convenient to often ride the bike, I would ride trains all the time. I dream of taking a train just for the sake of it. Maybe I'll make it a point to do that one day before I leave.
Whenever I ride the trains, I often have a small sense that maybe people are looking at me. I can rarely verify it, but whenever I see foreigners I notice them. I always feel a little guilty about it, but it's hard not to notice. I think it's natural to notice when someone or something is slightly different, but people in Japan are so skilled in the way they look that it's very hard to catch them.
Tonight I was reading the whole time I was traveling. I was quite preoccupied, but every so often I would look up to check where I was, at what station the train was stopped, and several times I caught eyes upon me. Yes, I met eyes with others on the train. Some apologetically looked away, but others smiled in a hidden way, as though their face naturally carried such an expression. And maybe it did; what would be the difference? And it was so good to catch them, as though to say, Yes, hello! It's good to see you, hello, hello!