Travelling is often a reward in itself, with old and new friends you meet along the way as well as an ever-changing landscape that is constantly opening up before you. But traveling and being on the road can also be filled with moments of discomfort, nuisance, or even awkwardness. Sometimes these stories are so captivating they make us laugh, cringe or reflect on our own life experiences in a whole new light.

The following are glamourous moments drawn straight from the road.

Chieko (Japan)

As a child, I had always been fascinated with trains: where they came from and where they were going. As I grew older, I began to take a keen interest in the drivers of these trains. The way they would skillfully maneuver the engines around sharp bends and curves, at times even having to apply the emergency brake during particularly dangerous situations. And so it wasn’t long before I began to contemplate my future as a train driver, with my vision of driving under the bright sunshine and passing through countless fields of greenery.

I studied for 4 years and after graduating from the Driving Academy of Japan, I was assigned to drive a passenger train. My first ever solo trip as a conductor was also my first day at my new job. Although I wasn’t particularly nervous, there were plenty of other emotions that were running through me: excitement, enthusiasm, and newfound energy that came with having graduated from school.

It was then I was told that the train I was scheduled to drive would travel from Niigata city, through Koshu, and onto Sado Island. As someone who had never been outside of the big city, this was going to be my first time visiting a rural part of Japan. The thought of the beautiful scenery that awaited me made me even more excited for my first-ever solo trip.

The road through Koshu Island is mostly mountainous with frequent sharp bends and slippery roads due to heavy rains. This is when the train driver is at his/her most alert because the slightest mistake could mean nasty results for both passengers and the track.

When I pulled up to the next station, I noticed that Koshu was extremely crowded with people waiting to board the train. The platform was filled with excited-looking families and groups of friends, while others had brought along flowers and even small teddy bears. It’s common in rural areas to bring such little gifts to express their gratitude for having been invited on this special occasion.