Slowly Becoming an Instagram Junkie

I’ve been playing a lot these days with Instagram, the popular photo sharing program recently acquired by Facebook.  I’m usually not one for gimmicky iPhone apps, but I must say that I enjoy exploring what I can do using one of Instagram’s 16 digital filters.  Best of all, the app is free and makes it easy to share pics and follow other photographers.  Here are some of my favorite photos that I have taken with Instagram.  You can follow me on Instagram @lulubellphoto.

Orix Buffaloes baseball game at Kyocera Dome Osaka
Tokyo skyline from Mori Tower
Shibuya, Tokyo just after sunset
Gion District of Kyoto
Sakura in Takaoka
Miyajima deer
Floating torii gate in Miyajima
Namerikawa sunset
The road to my junior high school (Hayatsuki) in Namerikawa

Train Stories # 6: The Fallen Glove

Japanese people are some of the most courteous people I have ever met. Customer service here is a way life and the standard compares to no other country I have visited. This ideal extends beyond stores, too. Rarely have I met a Japanese person who won’t go out of his or her way to help me. If I need help finding a bus, there are dozens of trustworthy people I know I can ask on the street.

With that said, however, being on trains and in crowded train stations isn’t where their courtesy shines. I went to Tokyo for a meeting recently and was reminded what it’s like to be packed in a train like a sardine. In train stations people brushed so quickly behind me that I felt dizzy. Everyone is in their own world, listening to music and clutching their newly-purchased designer items like a mother does her baby.  In Chiba, I witnessed a mad rush to the train where two young women slammed their bodies into the train like popsicle sticks. It’s likely that they had to make the train or would have been late for work.

Even in the countryside, where you’re much less likely to encounter packed train stations anything like those in Tokyo, people tend to walk without much regard to those around them. Every time I look around the train, Japanese people are on their cellphones, playing games or reading emails.

A Fallen Glove

So when I saw a woman lose her glove in Takaoka Station, the second largest city in Toyama, I didn’t want to stay shut inside a bubble. I noticed the woman lose her glove as I was sitting in the waiting area. I stared at the glove for a solid minute, thinking of what to tell the woman in Japanese.  She was now sitting a few seats from me and was looking at her phone. Everyone else around me was either napping or glued to their cellphones. Not wanting to ignore it, I gently picked the glove up and carried it over to her. She looked to be about 60. She was elegant in a brown suede coat and reminded me of my mother a bit. “Sumimasen,” (excuse me) I said. She looked up surprised and instantly uttered a stream of “arigatous” (thank you).

A few moments later, she got up to leave. Before she left the station, she looked back at me and bowed twice.

It was a simple gesture of gratitude, and it made my day.