April 26 – All Aboard
A few days ahead of schedule, the bullet trains begin running from Tokyo to Sendai.
Yesterday, for the first time since 3/11, the bullet trains began running again between Tokyo and Sendai. For nearly 50 years, the shinkansen have been a symbol of national pride. The bullet trains operating again provide yet one more sign that recovery is surely underway.
In many ways, the high-speed trains symbolize Japan – precise, safe, efficient, orderly. On a normal day, the trains run exactly as scheduled. The 7:29 train leaves at 7:29. Not 7:28 or 7:30. They are that exact. I remember when living in Japan in the 1980s when a team of American Major League baseball players came to compete against the Japanese pro teams. They were using bullet trains to go from one city to the next and when they reached their destination, they had only a few minutes to get off the train with all their gear. They had a ton of gear. The Japanese passengers helped the players throw all their duffle bags, suit cases and belongings out the doors of the train when it came to a stop at the station. They just made it before the trains departed. The trains stop for no one, not even visiting sports celebrities.
They do stop for earthquakes though. Normally, for a very short time as the track is checked for safety. Never have they been stopped for 45 days. Like most things in post-quake Tohoku, the trains encountered a few unexpected difficulties yesterday. Twice, power outages stopped the trains for a short time. In a matter of minutes though, the bullet trains were again speeding down the tracks at speeds of up to 185 miles an hour. Precise, safe, efficient and orderly.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2011 in Permalink