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One summer in Tokyo, as I was unemployed and without any better ideas about how to occupy myself, I spent an entire day riding the Yamanote Line. It takes roughly one hour to complete a loop of the line and, in the course of the day, I managed 19 laps before having to stop and catch the last train home.

That might sound like an unpardonable waste of time to some, yet it was one of the most memorable days I’ve spent in the city. Forced to adjust to the slow, patient tempo of the journey, my boredom gradually ebbed into a serene calm, and the everyday pageant of passengers became strangely absorbing.

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