The nation that brought us high-speed rail must also usher in the next generation of space travel.
We were on one of the JR lines waiting for the train. Below us, there was a huge crowd gathered around a man with a megaphone. It seemed to be the tail end of some sort of very impassioned public demonstration, the purpose of which we were unable to ascertain.
Assuming he was a politician or something, I zoomed in with the camera to try to see if I could read any of the posters carried by his supporters. I could not. The camera resisted me, refusing to focus on anything. By the time I forced it into submission the crowd had dispersed.
What was of interest, however, was the choice of backdrop for making his speech:
Seeing those letters, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, the blood coursing through my veins ran cold.
The Russians had landed the first unmanned vessel on the moon. The Americans had landed the only manned vessel on the moon. Every nation has since launched all sorts of garbage and celebrities into lower earth orbit.
But to date, nobody had thought to launch a goddamn locomotive into space.
This man was going to be the one to do it.
It was so obvious in retrospect. As a member of the Japanese ultra-nationalist party, he was issuing a call to arms– a show of support, to help him harness the power of steam and eschew the conventional limitations of internal combustion, to launch this relic from the 1800s into orbit and reclaim Japan’s rightful claim to being the technological pioneer of the world.
From afar, we wished him luck with the Space Train and boarded the arriving express.