On my second day in Japan, my brother, who works in public gardening, told me of a case of this increased strictness toward migrants that he had been directly involved in. Early one morning, soon after he and his colleagues arrived at work, the police showed up in force. “It was a very fast operation with tens of policemen. It looked like something out of the movies,” he said. Their primary goal was to arrest anyone in the country illegally. Soon they were asking for identification from everyone who works with my brother. The Brazilians showed their special Dekasegi permits, which allow them to live and work in Japan for three years. “Luckily I had brought all my documents,” my brother said with relief. Undocumented Philipino and Indonesian migrants suffered a different fate. “With only the clothes on their backs, they were taken directly to the airport for deportation,” my brother said with some show of emotion.
**Across Japan in five hours**
I have to adimit that when I read the reports about high-speed Japanese bullet trains, Shinkansen, I felt they had to be exaggerated. Sure, the trains were fast, but Japan is so very small, I thought. Well, I was wrong.
Inside the Shinkasen going to Hiroshima, where I will participate in ceremonies commemorating the tragedy of 1945, I am really impressed by the efficiency of the Japanese public transportation system. The first idea I am forced to revise is that of distances. Even though it is an island, Japan is considerably wider from East to West than I had anticipated. Before this journey, I had only considered the island’s length from North to South.
The bullet trains the Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama service Japan’s most heavily travelled line, the Tokaido/Sanyo. The Nozomi is the fastest, taking only 5 hours to travel between the capital Tokyo in the extreme East and Hakata on the western tip, a distance of just over 1050 kilometers. Imagine, taking a train from Sao Paulo and punctually arriving in Brasilia during those same 5 hours. Or else, travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Belo Horizonte in only 2 hours! Impressive!
It was recommended that I buy a tourist train pass to travel around while in Japan. At first I thought 300 dollars for the pass, which lasts several days, was expensive, but now I realize it will be well worth it, because my itinerary includes quite a few destinations.
I have journeyed to Nagoya where my brother lives and now I’m off to Hiroshima. After participating in that city’s memorial ceremonies, I am going south to Nagasaki to attend the Mayors for Peace conference. On the way back, I will pass through Kyoto with its ancient temples, among them, Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple. Following that, I plan to conclude my Japanese travels in Tokyo. Whether travelling from Nagoya to Hiroshima or from traditional Kyoto to super-modern Tokyo, the Shinkansen will help me enjoy my stay in the land of my forefathers.
**Pressenza editor, Alexandre Sammogini was invited by the Hiroshima City Council to pay homage to the victims of the atomic bomb. On August 5, the journalist officially launched Pressenza Press Agency from Hiroshima with the symbolic lighting of a torch for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence from the city’s Eternal Flame memorial.**
*(Translation/Edition: Isabel Torres-Carrilho/Randy Renegar)*