I just got back from three eye-opening weeks traveling across Japan. I have a few things to say about my trip, and I won’t bore you with one super long post. Instead I’ll break it up into a few topics.
I think I’ll write about the food, some cool stuff I saw, the great public transportation, and finally (or I should say firstly) how impressed I was at Japan’s absolutely top-notch energy conservation and recycling programs that I became familiar with. They got it down, folks. I ain’t lying. (check out the pic of the public recycling refuse bin that’s common all over Japan – you separate paper, metals, plastics).
I want to touch on the public transporation thing a bit here also. I’ll expand later in another post, but I can’t impress on you how much I was impressed by Japan’s world-class public transportation. It ran like clockwork and took you ANYWHERE you wanted to go. Amazing. We can’t even get buses to run on time on our major streets here in the D. If you’ve ever taken a bus here, you know what I mean.
But Japan’s bullet trains (the Shinkansen to you Japanese speakers) really took the cake. Can you repeat after me – "200 miles per hour, sucka." That’s right, 200 mph and on time to the minute. I know parts of Europe have bullet trains. Why don’t we? Man, if we have a bullet train to Chicago, Toronto, or New York, I’d be all up on that baby, riding it every weekend. Shoot, three hours to New York from Detroit? And you don’t have to go to some airport and deal with all that parking and TSA mess? I’m there! But the speed of the trains isn’t what I want to point out.
The most amazing thing about the Shinkansen is that, mile per mile, it uses only 10% of the energy required for airplanes to travel the same distance. I repeat. Japan’s bullet trains use only 10% of the energy an airplane uses to travel the same distance and actually can carry many more passengers. When I heard that, I was floored. 10%of the energy? No wonder the bullet trains cris-cross Japan all hours of the day and night, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers each day.
I ask you again, why don’t we have them here?
Another thing that great impressed me was how hotels over there are all equiped with energy saving devices that turn off power in your room once you leave. You have to stick your key in a slot in the wall and when you pull the key out, the power turns off. Makes so much sense. I mean, why burn lights and AC in a room you aren’t in? Rebecca and Courtney told them this is common in other countries also, I’ve just never seen it. And I’ve certainly never seen it here.
I ask you again, why don’t we have this here?
Finally, Japan’s recycling and refuse programs are no joke. They don’t play and you can imagine why. Over 130 million folks packed in area smaller than California with actually much less livable land. Keep in mind, Japan is mostly mountains and they keep their mountains green. This people pretty much live in the valleys and the mountains, for the most part, are untouched nature. It really enhances the beauty of the country and it means that your never far from woods, even if you live in a highly -dense urban area.
So to cope with the lack of land, they recycle EVERYTHING. All garbage is divided meticulously between metals (mostly cans), plastics, recyclable papers/woods, and burnable refuse. Everyone plays a part in keeping the country beautiful and barely saw even cigarette buts on the ground, even in Tokyo. I know many parts of our country are recycling now, but I’ve never seen anywhere here come close to how they do it there. Shoot, in Detroit, we don’t have any formal recycling programs. I belong to a voluntary recycling group, but forget about it if you are looking for those nifty green bins in my city. Not a chance.
I ask you one last time, why can’t we do it here?
We can, we just don’t.
Let’s start. Who’s with me?