Thursday, January 6, 2011

Loving Traffic Jam 愛おしい交通渋滞

For having lived long outside of Japan, I totally forgot that the "U-turn rush" can peak on January 3rd in Japan. This U-turn rush is a traffic jam created due to people going back to larger cities (where they work) after visiting their hometowns over the New Year's Day. Because I was so busy with wrapping up the year at school and getting ready to leave for Japan in December (before I left for Japan), I only bought a one-way highway bus from the Kansai International Airport (in Osaka) to Matsuyama, Ehime where my parents live. I assumed that I could purchase a one-way air ticket from Matsuyama to Kansai Airport later. This is what I had done every time I went back to Japan in the past, and I had not encountered any problem before. Yet, it was a refreshing experience for me this time. I experienced how intense January 3rd can be. To get to the point, on December 25th, every single seat of every single flight from Matsuyama to Osaka was booked. No bus was available either. At that point, I felt sort of panicky. "How am I going to get to Osaka!?!?"

Fortunately, an idea came to my mind right away, which was to take a airport limousine bus from Takamatsu-city to Kansai International Airport. It takes about 2 hours from Matsuyama to Takamatsu by a car. I asked my dad if he could drive me there, and he willingly agreed. Phew! From now on, I should think about how to get back to Kansai Airport before I leave for Japan. It was a good lesson.

The photo above is a view from the airport limousine bus I took from Takamatsu. As you can see, some sections of the highway were crowded like this. The bus arrived at Kanasai Airport 40 minutes late which is unusual for a Japanese transportations which are well known for solid punctuality. Luckily, I had a plenty of time until my flight, so it was not a problem.

What I actually felt when I saw this traffic jam was something that warmed my heart up. It was not frustration or worrisome. The fact that this many people thought of someone enough to drive all the way to spend the New Year's Day (even though it was especially a short break this year) even with the risk of getting into a traffic jam like this made my heart warm. With this thought, the red lights of the cars were something to adore.

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