I've been getting questions from friends back in the states, who hear something about Japan, and wonder if it's affecting me. Like the recent flooding for example. So I thought I'd put together a map to put things in perspective.
Tokyo is toward the eastern side of Honshu, the main Japanese island. Off to and above the right side would be the map to Sendai that I posted in early June. Kobe is over 300 miles mostly west, a little south, of Tokyo. It takes about 3 hours by bullet train. Of course the train route is not a straight line but follows the coastline.
After two very, very hot days in Kobe, where i spent most of my time either in my hotel room or underground in the maze of a shopping mall, my friend Rose and I are now in Hamada ... on the western coast of Honshu, not too far from South Korea. Most of the flooding was south of the bus route, although we did see a few remnants of flooding along the road today.
It was a 6 hour bus ride from Osaka to Hamada, which was a wonderful place to be today. The bus was air conditioned. Comfortable. Not at all crowded ... unlike the train we took to the bus station this morning at 8 AM. When the train pulled in to our station, it was packed like sardines. A few people got off when the door opened. I looked at it and said to Rose, "Do you think we can do this with luggage?" Sure enough. Not only did we get on with our luggage, but the dozen or so people behind us got on. The last people to get on the car backed in so they were facing the door not to wind up face to face with the people. There was no need to hold on to a strap. There was no way any one of us would fall over. Fortunately that was a short ride.
Back to the bus. Did I mention it was air conditioned? And I thought it was the perfect place to spend the day. I didn't feel guilty about not going out and doing something ... I was doing something. I was on my way to Hamada through some absolutely beautiful countryside. And when I did get off the bus for a few minutes at the rest stops, I was really glad to get back on it. It is still really, really hot.
I am pleasantly surprised at how well my pictures from the bus turned out. I did miss some great vistas because by the time woke up my phone, put in the security code, turned the camera on, we had passed it by or there were trees or one of those ubiquitous sound dampening fences or I took an accidental selfie. Anyway, the road goes over and through the western mountains. Almost every and any where there is flat ground, has rice paddies on it ... even places on the verge along the highway. Where there isn't a rice paddy, now there are solar panel farms. And occasionally regular farms. I still don't know what the "red" fields were.
And I liked that at each exit on the expressway, you have a choice to go to whatever town was there, or "ETC"
Actually, that stands for the electronic toll collection. :-)