Notes From Japan - Part Three

View of Mount Rokko and Shinkansen Train Station in Kobe, Japan (LEO Design)


When I travel to foreign cities, I love nothing more than "figuring-out" how to use their mass transit.  It gets me around town, quickly and cheaply, and it allows me to observe the "real people" who live full-time in that world.  It also allows me a sense of accomplishment: navigating and succeeding in mastering the complex tangle of symbols—whether in Japanese, Russian or Greek.

Riding the Shinkansen "Bullet Train" is a delight.  It is a marvel of mass transit engineering. It is smooth, elegant and fast, fast, fast—speeding along at up to 200 miles per hour.  Oh, that America had the will to build such a network!  We certainly have the ability and the money.   I could get from Pittsburgh to New York, Chicago or Washington, D.C. in two to three hours.

Shown above, a shot out my hotel room window.  You can see the fresh, blue skies, the rolling green Rokko Mountains, buildings snuggled into the hillside, and the Shin-Kobe Station, at which the Shinkansen Bullet Train calls.  I've taken this very train, on previous trips to Kobe, to Kyoto in the East and to Hiroshima to the West.

The photo also reminds me, just a bit, of Honolulu in my childhood home of Hawaii.  There, too, people have built their homes, clustered along the mountainsides and sloping-down to the seashore.  The city's topography and colors are similar to Honolulu, and many of the buildings—perhaps built by Japanese immigrants to Hawaii—share a similar size, style and character.

More from Japan tomorrow and in the days to come.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248