When Isaac was three, we bought him a train book. He was riveted. Favorite among all of the trains was the bullet train.
We are going to take the bullet train to Tokyo from Kyoto. Isaac is stoked. We have talked about Japan and the bullet train since we planned the trip. This is the highlight.
We buy the tickets and wait for the train. Every train we have seen or ridden on in Japan has been accused of being a bullet train. There are a lot of trains in Japan, so the questions have been incessant. The answers have not always been patient.
But, now, we are actually in line for an honest to goodness bullet train. It will be here in just three minutes.
I realize, as I so often do in Japan, that I am not sure if I am in the right place. There is a line, and I am in it, but my ticket has a symbol that is not on the ground in front of us.
I find an attendant, which takes a couple minutes, and he informs me in perfect Japanese that I am in the wrong place.
I understand this because I speak very good charades.
The train pulls in. The doors open. We are about 400 meters from where we should be. We have a ticket that is good for this particular train.
I sprint back to Wendy, the kids and the bags. I grab two of our four suitcases, a shoulder bag and a backpack and yell, “RUN!”
Wendy grabs the third huge suitcase, and a shoulder bag and purse. Isabelle drags a small roller bag. Isaac carries carseats.
We sprint down the station dodging everyone that we can and bumping those that we are too clumsy to avoid. The station is packed.
We have clothes on. But, for all the attention we draw, you would not know it. Motion around us ceases as people gape openly at us. We run the 400 yards and board the train just as the doors close at the exact moment that I pull the last bag into the train.
The entire car full of people gawk at us.
Wendy looks down the long aisle that connects one end of the train to the other. Automatic doors open and close as people walk up the length of the train’s interior.
“Hee hee?” I ask sheepishly, as I follow up to the now obviously moronic “RUN!” command. Maybe my charades is not as good as I thought.
We walk to our seat, and arrange our bags. I nod at the staring business women and men, trying to communicate, “Yes, I am that stupid.”
I am sweaty. Literally. And, also, figuratively. And metaphorically. Oh, and metaphysically… really.
We take our seat. It is Okay. We did not miss the train. Isaac's four years of waiting is about to be rewarded by a train that goes 320 km/h. (Look, I could convert to miles, honestly. I rule at math. But, 320 km/h sounds so much faster than 36 mp/h.) A train so fast it is named Hayabusa, which means peregrine falcon. (Look, maybe a peregrine falcon is slower than a bullet, but what if you shoot a falcon out of a canon? FACE!)
If I am totally honest, I am feeling giddy. Isaac is a lover of big machines. This is going to rock.
The train pulls out. It accelerates. This thing if freaky fast. Objects move by so fast as to be unrecognizable. When one bullet train passes another, it is impossible to discern that the other has windows because one moves so fast past the other.
This is rad.
"Isaac, this is amazing buddy. What do you think?"
"Is this a bullet train?"
"Sure is pal, isn't it amazing?"
"Is this as fast as it goes?"
"Yes, isn't it cool?" I want to repeat amazing again, because it seems like Isaac must just not be understanding the word.
"Um, I thought that it was supposed to be fast."
I overcome my surprise realizing that the term bullet train set him up for disappointment. He was under the impression that we be going bullet speed. Certainly, 3500 km/h doesn't seem very different from 320km/s if you have no understanding of either.
I try to explain inertia to him, but he is not having it. He is utterly underwhelmed the entire ride.
I am completely impressed with the train, but disappointed that Isaac's expectation weren't met.
Later, we ride the subway to our hotel.
"Now, this is a fast train, dad!" Isaac yells enthusiastically.
"Yes, son, it is." I smile.
From the Okutama Mountains near Tokyo, Japan:
BLUE LILY | Lifestyle Photographer | Salt Lake City, Utah