Dream of: 03 August 1997 "Chaos In Japan"

I was on a passenger train in northern Japan, with four other people (in their early 20s). We were together as a group with a particular mission: to reach a city due south of us, a city whose name began with the letter "A." While carefully studying a map which lay in front of me, I focused on the lines which represented train tracks on the map; one such line clearly stretched straight down the back of Japan, to the southern city which we needed to reach. However I quickly realized the train which I was riding wasn't traveling on the track which led straight to the south. I asked one member of my group, and was informed that we were actually on a train headed to California. I was told that direct-south-bound train had some problems, and that this train would actually be the faster one.

My group was one of several different groups which had been taking part in a test to see which group could reach the southern Japanese city the fastest. However I was unsure that the contest was still going on. The other groups might have already finished the trip, thereby ending the race. However it would be fun if we actually were racing.

Continuing my conversation with the fellow who had told me we were on our way to California, I told him that the idea of going to California was ridiculous and that we needed to get off this train. It wasn't too late: we hadn't yet left Japan and there was still time to get off. But, upon looking at the map, I could see that once we left Japan, we wouldn't be able to turn around. The train would travel for a long time in a tunnel under the ocean to California, and then back again to Japan. Besides taking so long, the trip to California looked dangerous; I dreaded traveling in a tunnel under the ocean. Again I told the others that we needed to get off, but they ignored me. Finally, when the train slowed down for a stop, I told them that we must get off immediately.

I could see that we were in an urban area. I thought the other train (the one which went straight to the southern Japanese city) was probably only a few blocks away. However, no one else seemed to want to leave the train we were on. Finally, in frustration, I told the others that I was going to leave by myself. I told them we should just pick a spot in the southern Japanese city and meet at that spot.

But before actually agreeing on a place to meet, I hopped off the train. As soon as I was on the ground, I turned to look for the other train which I wanted to take. Down a vista of streets, I could see a train passing by just a few blacks away and I headed in that direction even though I was still unsure the new train which I had seen would be would be the train I needed. It seemed that many trains were in this city, a city which seemed particularly ratty and dirty, bleak and dark. I seemed to have debarked in a bad area of town, where the people looked worn and beaten down, poor.

On the crowded street I overheard a Japanese man talking about how too many unskilled immigrants were flooding into Japan from southeast Asia. I couldn't tell the difference between Japanese and southeast Asians, but the Japanese man obviously could, and I thought it peculiar that even on slight differences, prejudices could be founded.

Although the Japanese man had been talking in English, as I walked on through the obscure streets, I realized I was going to have a problem because almost everyone else was speaking Japanese; I wouldn't even know how to ask directions. Finally, however, I saw a blond-haired man and I walked up to him. I quickly asked him if he had any idea how to get to a large city in southern Japan, a city whose name began with "A." Unfortunately I couldn't remember the name of the city. I told the blond-haired man that I had a map, but unfortunately I had laid the map down. I told him I would be right back, and I hurried off to retrace my steps to retrieve the map. Once I had found the map right where I had left it, I just as quickly headed back to where I had left the man.

I wondered what the man was doing here in Japan. Perhaps more Americans were here than I had expected. After all, Japan had once been defeated by the Americans and for many years had been a conquered land. Surely many Americans who had come during the conquest had stayed on.

When I returned, the man wasn't where I had left him. I continued down the street looking for him, until finally the street dead-ended. The dead-end seemed to be in a little bazaar or mall area, and I saw that there were even counters for a bank. The man whom I was seeking was standing at the bank, and it was immediately clear to me that he was a guard for the bank. Since he seemed to be working at the moment, and several other people were standing around, I decided it would be better not to bother him. So I turned back out of the labyrinth and into the crowded street.

Still headed in the direction of the tracks, as I rambled closer, I noticed that fewer and fewer people were around me, and when I finally reached the tracks no one was near. I finally saw why: the tracks were for freight trains and not for passenger trains.

A man standing near the tracks picked up some silver colored object, something like a large tin coffee pot, and threw it at me, missing by a wide margin, and shouted at me to leave. I didn't hesitate but turned and headed back the way I had come, soon again reaching the busy congested area of the city.

Now I was uncertain what to do. I could possibly rent a car, but the streets were so congested and it looked dangerous. Pedestrians and cars seemed to mix together in the streets in some unintelligible fashion. I didn't want to drive. The only other thing I could think of was to take a taxi. That would surely be expensive. But maybe I could just take a taxi to the train station. That might work. In fact it seemed like the best solution and I began looking around for a taxi to hale.

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