Visiting Japan. Part 4. Bullet Trains

Bullet trains move fast ndash; some of them go as fast as 200 miles per hour. This morning I was standing at the platform waiting for my train to Tokyo, and one of these fast beasts passed right by me. I was able to catch a short video of it (12Mb). Isn ‘t it something? The most amazing thing is that you don ‘t feel this speed while sitting inside.

But the most impressive thing is that they go on time. I had about 20 minutes to my train and had a chance to compare the advertised vs actual time of arrival ndash; they match up to the minute. Position of each car is clearly numbered on the platform, so people don “t need run around guessing where their car will be standing. Each train I “ve seen had exactly 16 cars and this simplifies things a lot. Tickets aren “t cheap – $120 USD for a two hour ride in the second-class car, which is almost as comfy as business class seats on many airlines.

The suicide rate in Japan is very high, because the level of stress is high as in any developed industrial country. It “s not considered to be a sin here, but a noble way to resolve a difficult situation. And most importantly, insurance companies pay benefits to the survivors (this is not the case in the USA). So some people use it as a way to resolve some psychological or financial issues and take care of their families. To commit a suicide, they jump from bridges, fill their own cars with gas, or jump under trains. The last case has a little caveat though, stopping the bullet train (which some suiciders may cause) is fined with $100,000, and stopping of a regular train would cost the suicider $50,000. This amount will be deducted from the amount paid by the insurance companies to the beneficiaries. Anna Karenina did not have to worry about insurance, lucky her!

We were moving from the Mount Fuji area to Tokyo. This shot of Mt. Fuji I took yesterday.

The day before, we took a lift (a gondola) to a nearby mountain to enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji, but it was clouded and we couldn “t see a thing. While waiting for the gondola to go downstairs one of use went to have a cigarette. There were a couple of women from France and a man from Egypt. After finishing smoking, they could not find an trash can to throw the butts in(reminder, they were standing on the top of a mountain). The obsession with cleanness here is high, and one of these French ladies took out from her purse a small plastic bottle from water, which has already some butts inside. She opened the lid, let everyone put their butts inside and screw in the lid. What a country!

Surprisingly, Tokyo is a pretty quiet city. We went to the street that has lots and lots of electronic stores with all possible gadgets and devices. In one of the stores I saw the newly released MacBook Pro with the body carved from aluminum brick, which I “ll purchase within the next couple of weeks. Here “s it is:

As you can see, its price is 15% higher than in the USA (just divide the price in yens by a 100 to get the price in USD).

We finished the evening in yet another small restaurant serving super fresh and tasty sushi and sashimi. But it seems that I already had enough of raw fish this week, and it ‘s time to get backto cooked food and meet. But a recent event with the cow named Asada may substantially reduce my consumption of beef. I “ll tell you this story in the next blog.


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