December 5, 2004 by Allen George
I’ve never really had the wish to visit Japan. That position’s diametrically opposite that of most of my classmates. Unlike many of my friends, I have no particular love of anime/manga, have little if any fascination with Japanese cars (excepting their consistent reliability) and have never bought into Japanese history or culture. Everyone has their tastes right?
That all changed yesterday…and somewhat abrubptly too, almost as if a light switch were flicked on somewhere in my head. Click. Now Allen wants to visit Japan. What brought this change about?
Thinking about it, it all started last week with an article in the Globe & Mail on Tokyo’s transit system. For those not in the know, Tokyo’s transit system – which includes subways, trains and LRT – is easily the most developed in the world. It’s the cleanest, most efficiently run and (for the tour-de-force) profitable. Shocking! The article described how railway conglomerates had worked together to create dense residential and commercial surrounding their stations, making them ideal stop-off points. That combined with continual make-work improvements, high density and an urban plan that promotes transit created the ideal conditions for a transit system that spans well over 293 km of rail.
Why start off with this?
‘Cause that was my hook. It got me looking.
Yesterday, on my forays into the weird and wonderful world of the ‘net, I discovered a number of night time shots of Tokyo. I was awed. The lights, the electricity, the energy. I don’t know how to describe it – but right then and there, I wanted to see this place. To experience it first hand. There’s something about viewing a city after dark, its lights contrasting against the blackness that’s so peaceful. So inviting…
I’ve always been a ‘city guy’ and reading about Tokyo, seeing the pictures of the milling masses and looking at a transit system extraordinaire – I was captivated. I could imagine the energy. I want to feel alive. To be surrounded and … awash … in a surge of humanity. How unlike Waterloo. How unlike the opinions of many of my friends.
Even now I can imagine myself standing, high in a tower somewhere, staring out. Watching Tokyo in the darkness.