Friday, March 04, 2011

Leaving Shikoku

One of the joys of the Japanese rail system is how easy everything is. We arrived at the station an hour and a half early, and in just a few minutes we had our seats changed to a train leaving immediately, without any penalty or complaint from the ticket booth.

Try that in England, and from what I recall any mucking around with your ticket so you're not on exactly the train you specified three months ago, and you're in for a world of pain.

It was slightly unsatisfying that after that the train to Okayama was late by a highly un-Japanese seven minutes, but soon we were on our way over the suspension bridge from Shikoku back to Honshu.

My physics teachers all told me it was impossible to put a train across a suspension bridge, but in the last 14 years this structure hasn't collapsed, which means (a) my teachers were apparently misinformed or (b) the Japanese are using eldritch magic to keep the bridge in place, and (c) there has not yet been anything to inspire a Japanese version of Topaz McGonagall.
Stronger bridges we must build,
So less people will be killed.1

I felt a great weight lift as we left Tadotsu today; my body and mind had not been adequately prepared for the work I'd made them do. Now I have a weekend to recuperate before its back to the routine of work. For now, the only difficult decisions are whether to go and look at an enormous fish in Osaka, or some deer in Nara, or take the train to Kyoto tomorrow to look at temples.

I suppose it also helps that the sun has come out, so there's a blue sky above and warm air beneath, rather than endless gloom and a miniature hotel room that smelt quite inexplicably of over-boiled vegetables. I hope the hotel we're staying at in Osaka will have regular size doors and no strange stench.

It will be a right royal shame if there's not a motorboat racing arena outside the hotel for me to ignore, but I suppose I will just have to make that supreme effort. It's hard, but the discipline I hope I possess should allow me to get through that trial, just for those two days.

1 Alas, I didn't quite remember McGonagall correctly; it should have been
For the stronger we our houses build
The less chance we have of being killed


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