Train of thought

In japan, travelling on February 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Osaka, city of a hundred bridges, if its not a hundred bridges it feels like it, big ones, small ones, pretty ones, industrial ones, and the rivers are all shapes and sizes too, some so small as to be canals. Its nice to ride over them, the only way I can orientate myself is to figure out which river I’m riding over, and work from there. The fun, hip part of town is Amer-Maru, or america town/village. There is even a small version of the statue of liberty on a rooftop in there. Its a smaller version of Shibuya, nice kooky (I like the word kooky) little bars, and cafes.

Drank a couple of beers in a place called No Bondage, just me the barman and his friend, who was drinking a cocktail called a red eye, beer mixed with tomato juice, had a taste, wasn’t impressed.

Spent a lot of time on the metro/train system in osaka, all of them are very efficient, but isn’t that the japanese all over (does anyone ever compare the japanese and the germans in this respect, everything so perfectly organised and defined, that it seems churlish to be british and so inefficient, and wasteful) with their points on the platform for where the train doors open and where you should queue up. I’m trying to avoid the trains during rush hour, not looking to have some salaryman crushed up against me, but I did catch the end of it. Let me tell you, you’ve never seen anyone run like a japanese hoofing it for that one train they need to be on. Lots of people, lots and lots of people on the trains, standing, talking, and as efficient and clean as the trains are, if I lived here I’d still want to ride the bike, to get away from the humanity, to be able to set my own course, choose my own direction, not be constrained by timetables set by someone else.

So many trains, so many services, so much urban sprawl to travel across. I didn’t realise how built up Japan actually is, until I managed to miss my shinkansen from osaka to kyoto, and found myself, bike and rucksack on a slower local express train which stopped at numerous stations. Pretty much the cities blend into one, osaka and kyoto just merge together, any place that is flat is covered with buildings, homes, just a mass of people living in a small space. And as you get out of the center of towns, the architecture changes, older, a bit more rickety, the buildings still pushed up against each other, but not as tall, more one and two storey buildings.

I’ve been told that the planning laws/building regulations in japan are slightly looser than over in the uk, as there does seem to be a certain amount of random buildings edged up alongside each other, windows looking out onto the blank walls of a taller building. Seems as long as you provide a certain amount of light to your neighbour, during the day you can build right over them. Seems kinda evil, but you do notice the premium placed on land/space and so it seems people will just build wherever there is space and the devil take the hindmost.

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