I had a couple of hours to spare in my last afternoon in Hiroshima, so I took to the Astram, opened in 1994, a people-mover built to connect with the major sporting arena up in the hills, Edion Stadium Hiroshima.
The people-mover is remarkable, over eleven miles long, running underground beneath the central area and then mounting a continuous viaduct that never seems to touch the ground. I’m not convinced about this rubber-tyred concrete technology: it’s distinctly bumpy compared with rail and the infrastructure seems to be bulky and intrusive.
The route is up a steep-sided valley that reminded me of Halifax, or Hebden Bridge, in which every piece of flat land is built on, with low-rise housing, high-rise towers and the associated suburban public and commercial development.
I was interested to see the Hiroshima hinterland, and I took as my destination the transportation museum at Chōrakuji, two-thirds of the way along the route.
The Hiroshima City Transportation Museum [http://www.vehicle.city.hiroshima.jp/VEHICLE_HP/Contents/01_home/0104_English/ehome.html], a five-minute walk from the Astram station, is in an expensive-looking modern building, and was not what I expected. There are only two full-size vehicles in the whole place – a sports car and one of the atom-bomb trams, identical to the two I’d seen on the streets but painted in a different livery.
A whole floor is given to an eclectic display of a couple of thousand models of trains, cars, ships and aeroplanes, with very perfunctory labelling in Japanese and English. I had a go at driving a train simulator but couldn’t get on with it.
Upstairs was a two-storey hall, filled with a gigantic working model of a not-far-into-the-future city to demonstrate as many modes of public transport as possible – not only trains and cars and ships and aircraft but helicopters, monorails, travellators, even a fairground.
So there, under one roof, you can examine past, present and future transportation, most of it in miniature, some of it in motion.