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5 GUESTS "Mobility"

We get around our towns and cities in all kinds of ways - on foot, by train, by bicycle, by bus. And, of course, by car. And, more and more, our transport systems connect together.

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2010/08/05

"The Local Line" Yasumasa Manabe

Kotoden
The Kotoden railiway, in Takamatsu, west Japan

What is your ideal means of getting around?

I find there's a change inside of me before and after I take a journey - long or short. Go to work, go to the local shops, go to the beach with friends, go out simply for the sake of going out, enjoying food or conversation while travelling, looking out of the car window, feeling sleepy.....

We choose different ways of travelling depending on where we're going, but regardless of the method we choose, discoveries we make along the way make us realize that traveling is not just about how we get from A to B. That makes moving around more fun.

Maybe the trees or the ocean indicate the different seasons, or you find a nice store along the road. You might meet someone you know along the way, or give yourself some quiet thinking time. Getting lost may allow you to find new places, or a new town.

Everyone has their own way of getting around, but I like to find a way that makes me feel my view of the world has changed a little afterwards.

Train or car?

In rural areas, the car is the main form of transportation. As an alternative, there are trains. And there are also buses and bicycles, and all these methods fill in for each other, and help one another.

In today's world, we can communicate with just about anyone anywhere online, and order almost anything we need. So, maybe moving around is not so crucial for survival any more. But I still think it's part of our natural make-up to want to move around, like when we get the urge to go somewhere for no reason. I think most of us actually enjoy the act of travelling, even without a specific purpose. For example, a car provides a private space, like a hotel room, where you can have privacy to think on your own. The train, on the other hand, is more like a walk in the park, where all kinds of people come together, and there's a chance to interact and think about others.

What's the secret of enjoying cars and trains to the utmost?

Each method holds its own discoveries and secrets.

In the car, you can find new places and environments by taking different routes. Even if you take the same route often, you can discover new things by driving more slowly, or stopping for a break.

On the train, you can relax and enjoy your surroundings. If you travel the same route often, you can compare the differences in the seasons as well. It's fun, too, to sit next to strangers and share the same space.

How should we approach mobility to protect the environment?

The phrase "The Environment" sounds like something distant and unreachable, even though we actually live "inside" it. There's no doubt we must start choosing more earth-friendly ways of doing things. But I actually think it is more important to try to find out just what the environment we're trying to protect really is. That doesn't mean you have to travel long distances, or go overseas to study. You can find "the environment" in nearby parks, oceans, rivers, trees in the park or flowers along the roadside. Even the fish and vegetables in the market. "Energy Conservatio" shouldn't mean moving less. In fact, it is better to move around more actively, so you can discover the environment that is actually around you, and feel it with all your senses. If we all did that, we would get a better understanding of this thing we call "the environment", and our relationship with it. Maybe that's where we should start?

What can each of us do to improve sustainable mobility?

I think there are a lot of people who would do more, but are turned off by big catch-phrases like "Eco~" or "Protect the Environment". It's hard for anyone to continue doing good if they don't really understand what their doing. First we must understand better what we're supposed to protect, and then why. That starts with information and knowledge.