For the first time since leaving in May 2012, I’m back here in the National Capital Region. This time around, however, I’m working in Downtown Washington as part of the building management team at the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building. Unlike my days out at Joint Base Andrews, driving into work isn’t the best option. The traffic getting inside of the Capital Beltway is the equivalent of a parking lot and actual parking in DC would require me to take out a secured loan. This week, I’ve been taking the Washington Metro into the city from my hotel in Northern Virginia. Metro already wasn’t high on my list of decent rail systems after what happened back in 2009 but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. Borrowing a word I used once in a game of Taboo, the whole system is “atrocious”. It certainly isn’t Tokyo. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the trains of Tokyo.
How I first came across this moment? June 2, 2007 is the day of significance here. That was the day I walked into Fussa Station and entered into the Tokyo train system for the first time. Getting to that moment started when a relationship I was in went sour, forcing me to flee to Tokyo to reset. After 2 weeks of getting acclimated to the time difference and wandering around my neighborhood in Fussa, I finally bought a ticket, entered those turnstiles, and took the escalator down to the platform. A couple of minutes later, I was onboard a Chūō Rapid bound for Tokyo. Within a month, my favorite pastime in Tokyo was riding the trains.
What it meant to me then? In 2007, I was fascinated by the Tokyo train system. You had JR East, Keio, Odakyu, and Keisei Electric on the surface and the underground options of Tokyo Metro and Toei. I got familiar with all of them at least once in my first few months.
What it means to me now? Today, I’m still fascinated by the Tokyo train system. In fact, you could say that I’ve been corrupted by the Tokyo train system. Every rail system I’ve been on since is measured up against what I experienced in Tokyo…and oftentimes, there’s no comparison.