Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yanagawa is a rather stange place...

Backwater. In the sticks. Corpse. These are all things that may come to mind when one thinks of Yanagawa. It is on the commuter line between Kurume and Omuta (which was once bigger and more prosperous than Kurume until the coal mines were emptied and the city started to eat itself alive) and would be rather unremarkable, but for the high school I work at and the canal boating (which isn't exactly Venice). However, there seems to be a strange undercurrent of quirkiness that seeps through Yanagawa, and I'm reminded of Royston Vasey on a daily basis.

For a start, there is a strange and seldom seen van that haunts the streets around the school. I sometimes manage to catch a quick glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye, and it makes me think of an ice cream van, though I'm not sure they have those here in Japan. However, the music is more akin to that tearful theme at the end of The Incredible Hulk, not the cheerful twang of a Mr Whippy van. And it may be my imagination but I only seem to hear the music once the brief glimpse of the van has passed.

The presence of haunting music is continued on the platforms of the train station, in the form of a tinkling glockenspiel theme that suggests facing down Lee van Cleef across a dusty Mexican steppe rather than waiting in line for a train.

There are other instances of strangeness but I can never seem to recall them until they happen again. I've been meaning to mention the van for ages, but it slipped mysteriously from my mind. Perhaps it's because I only commute here that things seem strange... were I to live in Yanagawa things would probably seem natural. Now there's a scary thought...


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