This is a guest post by Joel Putnam. 

The bullet train jolted me awake at about 250 km/hr. After an all-nighter climbing Mt Fuji, I’m not sure anything else would have done the trick. But the sudden shake sideways, caused by another 250 km/hr train passing us in the opposite direction, was enough.

First thing I remembered upon waking was being annoyed with myself. My JR rail pass expired at midnight. I’d wanted to get to Shimonoseki in time for the ferry to Busan, Korea. But I’d missed a subway by five minutes, causing me to miss the first train, causing me to miss that day’s ferry. A five minute delay snowballed into a full day’s delay. I wasn’t pleased.

I groaned, rubbed my eyes, and looked out the window. It was quite a view, all bamboo forests and hills. They gave way to a village made entirely of rice paddies and traditional Japanese houses, like something out of a childrens’ picture book.

From there we went into a tunnel, and back into the hills. Then came a second traditional Japanese farming village. Then the third, after another tunnel. I got out my camera as we went into the second tunnel and got it ready to take shots of what I expected to be the fourth village on the other side of the latest tunnel. That’s when a tone sounded and an announcement came through the speakers for the next stop: “Tsugi ekewa Hiroshima. Hiroshima desu…”

I lowered my camera. There would be no ancient farming village on the other side of this tunnel. Anything made before 1945 would be gone.

Atomic Bomb memorial

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  • David Lee

    In late 2007, I quit my job and left the comfortable life in the USA for the open road with nothing but a 20-pound backpack, a …

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