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April 26 – All Aboard

April 26 – All Aboard

A few days ahead of schedule, the bullet trains begin running from Tokyo to Sendai.

In this June 2010 photo, Ian stands in front of one of the Tokyo to Sendai bullet trains before boarding.

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

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About This BLOG

Scott and Yasue Schumaker moved from Japan to Hawaii in 1995. They and their son Ian, 14, live in Kapolei. In mid-January, Yasue unexpectedly returned to her childhood home in Sendai, Japan to care for her ailing mother. She was in Sendai when the devastating 9.0 earthquake struck. In this blog, Scott will share how all 3 family members are coping with the separation amid the chaos and misery of post-quake life in northern Japan. All times in this blog are HST.

Editor's Note:
Scott Schumaker, president of our parent company, PacificBasin Communications, has a unique take on the events unfolding in Japan. His wife, Yasue, is a concierge at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa. Yasue was in Sendai when the earthquake and tsunami hit and was one of the first people interviewed by CNN. She remains there, looking after her ailing mother and coping with the devastation. In this online column, Schumaker chronicles the experience of one family, both separated and united by disaster.

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