There's definitely a different vibe when you have to take the last train from one sleepy little coastal town to another. The daytime trains are full of high school kids-- some tough-looking with their moussed pompadours and facial piercings-- and quiet old women, some serious-faced business people in black suits. Hours later, the day is done. Now it's time to go home on the last train from the station.
The last train sits at the platform for at least 30 minutes, waiting while the clean-up crew works at sweeping the concrete clean of trash. An elderly drunk comes off another train and barks like a dog, angry at the world and takes forever to climb the steps into the station. You can press a button to open the train doors and get on, then press another to close them with a pneumatic whoosh.
Stretched out on the seats near the center of the car is a middle-aged man wearing a parka, his shoes off. He looks as comfortable there as he would on his futon at home. In the elderly priority seats is a tired-looking man in a long leather coat, a tie and black slacks. He has a black leather bag at his feet. Later, a boisterous group of older men get on-- they're all more than likely drunk-- and they joke and laugh loudly. It quickly becomes their car.
There's not much to see out the train windows when it finally starts rolling. Some lights from houses across what are probably rice fields, a clustering of lights and a convenience store sign, more lights here and there, but otherwise just the reflection of yourself in the glass opposite.
The friends get off at a tiny station with no one in attendance. Then it's a quieter experience, just the clattering of the train's wheels on the track and the announcer's voice telling you you're finally home.