The local train trip may have taken three times longer than the bullet train and required four platform changes, but it was good to slow down and smell the roses. Well, actually it was to save $60. I am traveling in Japan with champagne taste on a beer budget and it’s not pretty. Thank goodness I got my zen back.
But having gotten used to the quiet, I am now missing the moments of random chaos that provided such colour and zing in South-East Asia. Here is a country where the trains run like clockwork, people are polite and everyone is so totally compliant to the many rules and signs. It makes for very easy travelling, but is just a bit too predictable. Even the schoolkids are well behaved! Yesterday I felt the need to be wild ..... so I jaywalked. I am SUCH a rebel sometimes.
I’ve travelled further south to Hiroshima, a very likeable, walkable, cosmopolitan port city, etched in history after its decimation by a single atomic bomb in 1945 that killed about 140,000 people. The fact that the city has been rebuilt to its current state, is a true testament to that same organisation, compliance and determination of its people.
It was a sombre, educational and quite moving experience to walk around the A-bomb hypocentre site as it now stands. Peace Park, the monuments, memorial hall, atomic bomb dome and museum provided a very balanced view of what happened, with the overwhelming theme of peace and global nuclear disarmament.
I was amazed by the fact that successive mayors of Hiroshima have sent letters of protest in response to every nuclear test, by any country, since 1968. Each time a letter is sent, the mayor hopes it will be the last - such is the wish of the Japanese people to ensure such horror is never repeated with future generations. Sadly, the letters have continued.
Maybe the combination of zen, world peace and random chaos is just too much to expect.