The day I’ve been waiting for … we have an appearance by the Shinkansen!
The famed bullet train might be one of Japan’s most famous cultural phenomenon known abroad (after, what, geisha? Otaku (techno or manga-related “geeks” or obsessives)? Sushi-samurai-ninjas?
They’re already making a faster one, but for now, the Shinkansen reigns for the commuter and traveller alike. And we have a line mere meters away from our home!
I was a bit wary of two things when we move in: being on top of a steak house (cockroaches) and being so close to the Shinkansen (which you can make out as a white rectangle square windows top-frame), for the noise factor. After moving in, I would forget it existed unless I was either super-on-edge and irritable, or outside staring right at it. I have no idea how this thing manages to be so quiet, but Japan, even in the cities, can be a place fun for trying to hear pins drop.
Oh – there it goes now (just barely, because I’m listening for it)! This line is from Tokyo to Nagoya. On a local train, Nagoya station is one stop away, and is actually the largest in terms of physical size, in the country, from what I understand (Kyoto’s is much more architecturally interesting, though).
Like many of Japan’s old-new/modern-ancient duos, this bullet train, bastion of modern technology, also happens to look a little bit like something out of the 60s, but I say, “vivre la contradiction” (mainly because I don’t know how to say this in Japanese).
These guys are encased in a small shrine area on a very busy road, one of my common bike routes. The encasing is concrete on top of a concrete ground, right under a very busy Shinkansen train line. They are deity idols, “jizo”, meant to protect people on their travels. Every time I get here, the stillness and peace emanating from this little oasis makes me pause, stare at them, and say a little thank you. I love how their “outfits” match the orange of the “mikan” (tangerine) offering here.