Nagasaki Tram

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  • Nagasaki Tram 00:00
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In Kyushu Island, precisely in Nagasaki, I found the livelihood of tram again. My experience in this southern part of Japan reminds me of the time when I took the tram in Sapporo, Northern Hokkaido. It was as if the Southern and Northern part of Japan intertwines through the tram, although the climate difference. Hokkaido is known with low temperature while Nagasaki is warmer, closer to the tropical climate.  

One of the employee working in the place where I stayed comes from New Zealand and has been living in Nagasaki for 5 years. He said “here, tram is the way of life. People use tram every day. You can go everywhere around this city by tram. It’s a part of Nagasaki culture!”. I agree to his statement. I stayed in this town for 3 days and I feel that the tram is one of the most popular public transportation in Nagasaki. From students, workers, to senior citizen uses tram to go everywhere. During peak hours for example during the day or after work, often times the tram is packed with passengers.

I recorded this audio by the sidewalk near Shinci Chinatown Tram Station, estimated about 100 meters from Dejima. The distance between my microphone set and the tram rail was about 15 meters. In this audio, we can hear the tram’s tires screeching as it being pulled by the brakes, slowing down to stop in the station. This old tram went by right in front of the microphone. We can hear the sound travels from the left to the right side of the stereo speaker. Other than that, we can also hear the silence when the roar of the engine stops while they wait for passengers to step in. The machinist gave announcement through the loud speaker. Meanwhile the sound of cars, buses, and other transportations which roams the streets can also be heard, because the tram rail is located right at the center, splitting the busy street. 

Similar to Sapporo, the majority of the carriage in Nagasaki consists of old trams with its authentic and breathtaking shape and ornament details. The sound produced by the engine is also different compared to the newer tram versions in which they are softer. Personally, I like hearing the noises caused by the old tram engine running better. I get a more sentimental nuance.

The electric tram pathway has started operating for public since November 1915, more than a hundred years ago. Other than Nagasaki and Sapporo, other cities in Japan also uses tram as its main public transportation for example in Hiroshima, Osaka, Okayama, Kumamoto, and so forth. While in cities such as Sendai, Yokohama, Kobe, Fukuoka and Nagoya, tram is no longer used as its main public transportation.

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