Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Shinkansen! Shinkansen! And Hiroshima.

I boarded the Shinkansen - the very fast train, or bullet train - from Tokyo station this morning. Everything is mind-blowingly efficient and convenient here - there are trains about every 15 minutes, to just about anywhere. Once you make you reservation and have your assigned seat, all covered by my Japan Rail Pass, you simply locate the right platform, and stand at the designated gate for your car. And the train stops exactly where it is marked - amazing! The gates for each car line up perfectly when the train stops. Inside it`s like an aeroplane, and there is even a food cart that comes down regularly for your purchases. At 300 km/hr, the train is very fast! But you can`t really tell unless you walk around.

Passed by the magical snow-capped Mt Fuji, not that long out of Tokyo. Came as a bit of a surprise, being much sooner than I had expected, it`s peak was shrouded in wisps of cloud...was quite a beautiful site after the harsh rush hour of Monday morning Tokyo.

After a couple of Shinkansen (can you tell I love saying the name!!??) changes, I arrived at Hiroshima Station, about 5 hours after leaving Tokyo. Which is amazing when you look at the distance on a map... I followed the signs, and was lead to the bus system. I braved it, and figured the bus travel out - you get on at the back door, where you take a ticket from the machine. The ticket has a number on it, and as the bus moved, there is a table near the driver`s head listing the current cost of the ride for each passanger on the bus! How super efficient!! I was impressed!!

I then arrived at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I took in the information in the Museum first, although I still can`t fathom how the order was made to drop that bomb. The pictures of the city before and after, the personal accounts, the collected reminents... Very full on, and emotional place. I then wandered the park, where the Cenotaph and the peace flame are (the flame will keep burning till the world is free of nuclear weapons - when will that be?). The shell of one of the few buildings left standing in the city of Hiroshima after the bomb was detonated, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commerical Exhibition Hall, is on the edge of the park, and is labelled the A-Bomb Dome. There is also The Children`s Monument, remembering the children killed and effected by the bombing - with the memory of Sadako in particular. I remember reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in primary school - this visit has made it all so real. (More photos.)

Hiroshima definately has a different feel to it than most cities, and with the knowledge that it is a place that has been completely rebuilt after August 6th, 1945, it`s quite amazing. Very new feel to it, very planned and worked out. But also has a blanket of reflection over it.

Tonight, after another Shinkansen trip, I am in Kyoto! Seems colder than Tokyo...

1 comment:

  1. I saw Poo Murry on the weekend at "a day on the green". His best some with the cover he did with Tim rodgers of Heart of Gold - neil young. Make sure you get some bright eyes of Clees next week, it's so good.

    Can you pick me up a copy of the protocol in kyoto?


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