Sanshirō was impressed by many things in Tōkyō. He was impressed by the electric trains with their clanging bells. He was impressed by the great number of riders getting on and off at each stop. He was impressed by the Marunouchi district. Most of all, he was amazed to discover that Tōkyō never ended, no matter how far one ventured. Everywhere he walked were stacks of lumber and piles of stone. New houses were set back some meters from the road behind old storehouses that were half demolished and barely standing. It looked as if the entire city were being torn down. At the same time, it looked as though the entire city were rising up anew.
Sanshirō was thoroughly impressed. His amazement was no less than that of a boy off the farm who sees a town for the first time and drinks in its wondrous sights. In spite of his schooling, he gawked in amazement at all that he saw. His education had no more prepared him for this than any patent medicine would have. His confidence failed him, leaving him ill at ease.
If this intense activity was in fact the real world, then his life thus far had been fully removed from reality. He'd lived in a realm apart, and fallen asleep to boot. Even if he woke now, eager to join the fray, he had no easy means of doing so. He stood in the middle of it, with activity swirling round him, but he stood as a mere observer. His life as a student would continue on as before. The world was restless, and he watched as it stirred, but in it he had no role. His world and this reality before him were parallel tracks on a common plane, destined never to touch. This real world was surging forward, leaving him behind. This thought left him anxious.
Thus were Sanshirō's impressions as he stood in the middle of Tōkyō and watched the electric trains, the steam trains, and the bustling of people, some dressed in white and some dressed in black. At the same time, he was utterly oblivious to the undercurrent of dynamic thought coursing through academia. -- Meiji thinkers were racing to cover in forty years the ground that their Western counterparts had traversed in three hundred.