First Day of School, or the Japanese Train Sandwich

First day of school! The school supplies, the new uniforms, the 75-minute each way commute….

Crowded trains? What crowded trains? The platform looks fine to me.
Crowded trains? What crowded trains? The platform looks fine to me.
The kids’ are attending St. Maur International School, an international Catholic school in Yokohama. Yokohama is the next city over from Yokosuka, where Mark works. We decided to live closer to the kids’ school than Mark’s work, and the plan was to have our house before school started. So much for that plan. Instead, the kids started school today while we are still in temporary lodging on base. That meant a 75 minute commute each way on crowded trains. Welcome to Japan, kids!

Tessa unsuccessfully  tries to will the man in front of her to stand. We rode 40 minutes like this.
Tessa unsuccessfully tries to will the man in front of her to stand. We rode 40 minutes like this.
It started out fine on the deceptively-empty platform at Yokosuka-chuo station. I copied the train schedule ahead of time and we made it on the 6:35AM train as planned. Mark assured us that we would have seats since the train was so early. Mark was wrong.

So after 40 minutes of the classic Japanese train sandwich, we got off at Yokohama station and found our transfer point for the next train. I checked and double checked that the train was going in the right direction. Onward!

The train traveled one stop, and everyone got off the train on one side while crowds waited at the doors on the other side. I immediately recalled the words of our Inter-Cultural Relations instructor during orientation: If everyone gets off the train, then you get off the train, too. Then she said it again.

I stayed on the train.

The other doors opened and everyone rushed onboard and started running–and I mean running–for seats. Tessa loudly declared, “It’s like musical chairs!”. I scowled at her, but she was right. I’ve never adults move like that for seats. Then I looked up at the Next Station sign and saw that the train was heading back to Yokohama, the station we just came from. That’s right. The train went one station, discharged everyone, picked up a new load of passengers, and returned.

I yelled at the kids and got us off the train.

Tessa's all "Hi Mama!".
Tessa’s all “Hi Mama!”…..
So we wandered the platforms and found the next train that continued in our desired direction. The rest of the trip (bus ride) was uneventful. I delivered the kids to their classrooms and snapped a few photos. Tessa was happy to oblige; Cy, not so much. Then I left and reversed the journey back to Yokosuka to meet Mark and the realtor for lease signing.

While Cy is all "I need to go and unpack my bag!".
…While Cy is all “I need to go and unpack my bag!”.
Afternoon pick-up was slightly less exciting. Instead of taking the train from Yokosuka again, Mark and I drove to the new house in Yokohama for a walk-through with the realtor and owner. From the house I figured out the bus-walk route to school to pick up the kids. We returned to the house, unloaded what we had in the car, then headed back to Yokosuka for homework and a celebratory round of sushi from the sushi-go-round. And no, we didn’t steal anyone’s food this time.IMG_2507

St. Maur International School's newest students and the end of their first successful day.
St. Maur International School’s newest students at the end of their first successful day.

10 thoughts on “First Day of School, or the Japanese Train Sandwich

  1. Barbara

    What lovely students. Seems Cy is catching up to Tessa in height. I was curious about the school’s patron. One St. Maur (Maurus) was bishop of Kraków in 1011! There was an earlier Saint Maurus in the 6th century, in France.Patron saint of the handicapped and shoemakers!


  2. Mary Ellen

    well the kids look great – hope all goes well for them – love to all of you and I sur wish I had done something like that when I was younger – all here AOK – 72 lzast wednesday – what a world – time slipping past too fast – will miss you a Christmas and or Thanksgiving – give the kids hugs and kisses for me and to you too
    Auntie ‘ol ding bat
    Mary Ellen


  3. Eric

    Sounds like a long day for you and the kids. 2 1/2 hour commute?! Telly Cy he has awesome red shoes and Tessa had a great attitude on the first day at her new school.

    Future blog requests: zen garden rock-raking, sumo wrestlers throwing rice, sushi chef.


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