The quality of longevity is being discussed in controversial ways. Whereas the goal set by the ones optimistic of their (ever-)lasting physical and mental stamina is reaching an age of biblical extent, others would rather see themselves passing away at the height of their beauty, wit and grit – just in time, so to say. For them, the outlook on being left helplessly wilting in a forlorn nursery home or as an undead vegetable plugged to the wonders of life-prolonging contraptions, is utterly unbearable. Not to hope for heavenly conditions on earth seems the more realistic approach since, commonly, just-in-time rarely happens.
Strange ways indeed
From a distance, front-desk receptionist Yumeko could be mistaken for a good-looking young lady of genuine flesh and blood, whereas colleagues positioned at the counter to either of her sides won’t fool anyone. They are instantly recognisable as what they are: a not-so-handsome-yet-still-quite-cute greenish descendent of the Jurassic age with a serious overbite and a manikin-like mechanical device held in colours white and blue: little Nao. It is obvious, that dinosaur Mirai cannot be real – but neither is Yumeko nor are most of the staff weasling about the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki: Instead, they are intelligent robots able to converse with their customers in a sensible and friendly manner while checking them in and out. The diligent machines are always ready to please, never in a filthy mood and obedient servants programmed to satisfy their guests’ special needs.
Can a train really go as fast as 600 km/h? It can, obviously, since it has done so in spring of 2015: The record-breaking speed had been achieved by Japan’s Maglev bullet train in a test run by its developer Central Japan Railway Company. Instead of sitting on regular tracks, the superconducting Maglev hovers above them, enabling frictionless and low-noise movement by „magnetic levitation“ = Maglev. Thus the breathtaking tempo. If all goes well and according to the company’s ambitious plans, Tokyo will be connected with Nagoya within as little as 40 minutes by 2027. At present, the ride takes twice as long. Another two decades ahead, by 2045, travel time for the total distance from Tokyo to Osaka might shrink from 142 to sensational 67 minutes.
„Regular“ Shinkansen have been successfully cannonballing through the nation for fifty years.
A grave decision: Sleeping in a Pod
„Capsule hotels are a unique form of accommodation developed for working Japanese men who are too busy to go home“ says the website for Amazing Places, Wonderful People and Weird Stuff. Far too tired to grasp their whereabouts, the too-busy men happily clambered into coffin-sized compartments to spend the night snuggled up against walls at best sealed by a tiny door. Nowadays, emancipated capsule hotels also cater to too-busy women – following the principle of: different gender, different floors, decency guaranteed. That capsule hotels are not for the claustrophobic, is self- understood – but even those with an imperturbable mind frame and without a space and washroom sharing problem may want to think twice before checking into one of the battery-style facilities: Many a foreign neighbour is stretched out in loop holes aligned to the left or the right, hovering overhead or snoring underneath, all separated only by sometimes skinny partitions.
“A natural medley of willows and cherry blossoms weave themselves into a brocade, the Heian-kyo” romanticises an ancient verse about Kyoto, Japan’s capital and residence of emperors between 794 and 1868. Wars and raging fires destroyed Kyoto – formerly called “Heian-Kyo”, Capital of Peace – repeatedly over the course of many centuries. Astonishingly, not so during WW II: thanks to its precious historic value, and the presence of mind of acting warlords, the city was spared the fate of being melted into contaminated grounds by a malign nuclear bomb or of being struck by hostile air raids. Other Japanese destinations were less fortunate. A wealth of cultural properties of the past like temples, shrines and other traditional structures was, thus, successfully preserved in Kyoto.