Eight Trains depicts a man’s regular Tuesday journey to-and-from work in rural Japan and the various people he encounters. The story is told completely from his perspective: he leaves for work at 6:12 AM, takes 4 different trains to get to work, spends 5 or so hours at work, then takes the same 4 trains back home till he finally arrives at his house at 8:05 PM where he drinks coffee and smokes cigarettes. We don’t know much about the narrator, but we learn a few of his quirks and mannerisms as he lets us inside of his personal thoughts and introspections on the seemingly faceless people he comes across.
I had wanted to create a two-tiered system of nodes that had the narrator centered in the middle, with different nodes for the different locations extending outward from the center, and then different nodes for different characters extending outward from each location. But I couldn’t figure out how to do that on Google Fusion Tables, so I instead made two graphs to represent the same information.
The graph above illustrates the different locations that the narrator frequents every Tuesday, including the 8 trains, his work, his home, and the Moka station platform. This graph clearly represents the story’s point of view: the narrator (and the reader) is on the inside, looking out at the world from different directions, taking different paths to get to each place. Train 1 and 2 have bigger nodes to represent more characters noticed and discussed at each location. However, this graph conceals the fact that train 1&8, 2&7, 3&6, and 4&5 are actually the same exact train but moving in opposite directions, and that each pair (more or less) has the same passengers on it.
The graph above displays the different characters that the narrator sees during his day at all 10 different locations. While the previous graph could not depict that certain trains had the same passengers on it, this graph clearly can, seen in the connection between the vain schoolgirls on train 2 and 6, and the homeless man at the Moka station platform and in the narrator’s home.
While both graphs display the narrator’s whereabouts and the people situated around him, neither are able to convey his emotional environment (meant here to mean the ways in which he feels at each location due to the people that surround him). This limitation is a significant one because his changing sentiments throughout the day is the entire point of his story. For example, as he leaves work and moves toward his first train back home (and his fifth train of the day), he thinks “Returning is always sad […] To go is always to go somewhere; returning, you return to nowhere. That’s the way it is.” But his increasing boredom and lack of fascination by the strangers cannot be felt by looking at these nodes. Therefore, the graphs fail to illuminate the narrator’s true connections to the people around him.