When I was little, every summer I visited both of my grandmothers with my family. They both lived in Kanto region, quite far from my hometown in Tohoku region, so, we always travelled by a bullet train.
I always loved travelling on the bullet train. Since the train was designed for a long distance trip, the seating was spacious, the window was huge, and there were even foldable tables equipped in front of us. I usually took the window seat and enjoyed looking at the passing scenery. Often, my mother would give me snacks and at one point, we also ate rice balls for lunch. Eating food and watching the changing scenery felt like a heaven to me.
In the middle of the trip, there was a place where the train went through multiple long tunnels. It was right where we crossed the mountainous border from Tohoku region to Kanto region. Suddenly, the window would become all black, and instead of the beautiful scenery with houses and rice fields, I would see the reflection of my own face there.
At first, this was a bummer to me. The black window was incredibly boring compared to the changing scenery. To make the matter worse, it lasted for several minutes with brief intermittent breaks. In order to pass the time, I would reach for my snack during this black window period.
While eating my snack, however, I still kept my eyes on the window just in case I discovered something interesting. I observed the reflection of my face very carefully as I munched on my snack. Then I found something extraordinary. As I opened my mouth wider than normal, I saw many teeth in the reflection – many teeth like those of a monster.
“How is that possible?”
Forgetting about my snack, I now opened my mouth as wide as possible.
There in the mouth of the girl in the window, I saw four layers of lower teeth instead of one. When I touched one of my lower teeth, I realized that the girl’s finger came in four layers as well.
And yet, I was so fascinated that I couldn’t take my eyes off. I carefully observed the way the girl’s mouth looked like that of a monster. Amazing…
Before I knew it, the train came out of the last tunnel, and there was no more black window. As I gazed at the familiar scenery of rice fields and houses, my thoughts were still with that girl with four layers of teeth.
Later, my mother told me that such a thing happened because the windows of a bullet train used layered glasses. From that time on, whenever I travelled by a bullet train, I looked forward to tunnels and opening my mouth to meet the monster in the window. And that ritual still continues to this day.