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Email: Greetings from Japan – The Bullet Train


Date: Thursday, 13 June 2002 22:36 PDT
Subject: The Bullet Train

Nearly everyone has heard of Japan’s famous bullet train. Our first experience was not actually riding one. Instead our first experience was in a train station. We were waiting for our train to come when, whoosh, one flew by at full speed. I just stood there with my mouth open. It took between 6-8 seconds for it to enter and leave the station. It was impossible to ignore. We were just outside of Tokyo at the time.

A few days later, we had the privilege to actually ride a bullet train. We purchased a 2 week pass that covers almost all of our transportation while in Japan. Buses, ferries and light rail are included in some cities. We took a bullet train from Tokyo to Hiroshima. The 500 mile journey took just 5 hours. Do the math… we averaged over 100 MPH. We were traveling much faster many times. There were several stops along the way.

And smooth… the ride is so smooth. It was almost as good as flight. There was relatively little perception of movement. Often you wouldn’t know that you were moving except by looking out the window. Even then, unless you were passing another train or entering or exiting a tunnel, you didn’t realize how fast you were going. Sandy noticed that the liquid in the bottle of Coke she set down didn’t move at all.

We are staying in the Hiroshima Youth Hostel. We are a short bus ride away from the center of town. There is something like 1.7 million people who live here. Yesterday, we took a ferry to a nearby island. The island had semi-wild deer, monkeys and lots of temples — some in ruins. The overall effect was a little like Indiana Jones. It was hot and humid.

Today, we went to the Peace Park and the Peace Museum. It is hard for me to put words to this part of the trip since we just left a few hours ago. We learned a lot about the events in Japan before and after the dropping of the bomb. Powerful. Sad. Educational. Moving.

Hope everything is well with you