Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kyushu Shinkansen

The Kyushu Shinkansen was scheduled to open to the public on March 12, which was the day after the earthquake/tsunami.  The video below was shot to promote it, but I am just astounded by the public support that is shown.  I can't help but think if this were in the U.S. that most of those cheering people would have been holding protest signs.

I'm going to give you this comment before the video to provide further context:

A little bit more on why this is such a big deal:
The Kyushu shinkansen is not new. It started construction in 1991 and started running in 2004, but it was incomplete. So you had a long section of the bullet train on the south side of Kyushu and a giant gap to the north.
Now consider the attitude of your average south Kyushu resident. They feel detached from mainland Japan. They feel smaller, less urban, less developed. And especially in places like Kagoshima, there's a general feeling of pride in your own area, but a suspicion that pride isn't shared outside of your area.
Completing the shinkansen meant a great deal to southern Kyushu residents. It would finally connect them with the whole of mainland Japan. They built a giant shopping center at the start of the line in Fukuoka. There was a countdown clock above the Kagoshima city hall, and huge celebrations were planned for the day it opened. It was promising to be one huge party.
And then tragedy struck. The earthquake, the tsunami... And the stages and tents that were erected were quietly disassembled... and at first, some people felt loss and bitterness. They felt robbed.
Soon after, when the true devastation of the tsunami became known, I think the Kyushu shinkansen once again became the symbol of unity it was meant to be. It connects almost the whole of Japan like veins.
This public good unites them.

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