Friday, July 19, 2013

Caves of Steel

Kyoto (Jun 2, 2012)

The Caves of Steel is a novel written by Isaac Asimov. Three millennia in the future, Earth is an overpopulated world with most people living in huge cities enclosed by gigantic steel domes. The cities are connected by underground transit systems, to a point that people became extremely agoraphobic, rarely venturing to the outside world and living all their life in the eponymous "caves of steel". This is the image that came to my mind when we arrived in Kyoto with the bullet train, end entered the large hall of the main station in the city. It was late in the afternoon, and the crowd was not so dense as in the Asimov future Earth (that would be rush hour in Tokyo). The space however was a close rendering of the imagined caves of steel: high lattice ceiling with a large multi-level central space, and a dizzying labyrinth of escalators, suspended passageways and terraces around a space so large that one would think weather would develop inside. Our hotel (a modern western-style hotel, which came quite as a shock after the time spent in the japan-style ryokan in Hakone) was nearby, so we had several chances to see the building, that hosted not just the train and subway system, but also a complete mall, with stores and restaurant. We tried one of the restaurants (a shabu-shabu place) the night I was sick, and could not motivate myself in doing a complicated dinner in Gion. It was ok, but not the best food we had in Japan. Then again, I don't think I would have appreciated any food in the conditions I was that night.

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