Thursday, August 28, 2008

Japanaventures 6: Day 4 - Bullet Train

I’m not one to get motion sickness. Though, as I get older, I’m growing more susceptible. Even so, in spite of my generally solid grip on my relationship to the horizon, the bullet train got to me. From the aisle seat looking out the window, the world moved by so fast, I couldn’t get a reference point. So instead I wrote in my journal or did crossword puzzles trying to pretend there were no windows on either side of me.

It appeared other people might have that same problem, as these gentlemen had brought an entire complex of electronics and computer equipment that probably allowed them to run NASA Mars missions from the train.

When I was in the window seat, I could look out at Japan flying by without getting too nauseous. The thing that really hit me about the “countryside” was how it was populated, if not full blown urban, all the way from Tokyo to Okimaya and on to Matsuyama. The scenery went from large apartment buildings to large apartment buildings with some houses mixed in to all houses to houses with a few fields mixed in and then back up and down that scale. Not once did I feel like I was out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and the occasional farm house. Nope. People everywhere the whole time.

No wonder the Japanese use space so efficiently. They have no choice. Imagine cramming the entire populations California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania (the 6 most populous US states) into a landmass the size of Montana. Heck, they’ve crammed the entire population of California into the greater Tokyo area alone.

It really made me appreciate just how damn big this country really is. Something that’s easy to forget when flying across it. Try driving from Chicago to San Francisco sometime. I’d say 95% of that drive is through a vast empty nothingness. I bet I could get to the middle of nowhere within an hour or two from San Francisco, and without getting motion sickness either.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.