Japan: Fast Ride to Osaka

Across paddyfields, through mountains and over highways last week streaked the world's fastest long-haul train, slithering like an ivory worm along the 320 miles of rail between Tokyo and Osaka. For the first full test run of Japan's $1 billion New Tokaido Line, the super-express Hikari averaged 80 m.p.h. and often went as high as 125 m.p.h. Crowds waved and cheered, highway traffic stopped to watch, and planes of newsmen circled overhead. Japan was greeting not only a new rail service but a symbol of the nation's postwar industrial growth and a new bond between its two largest cities.

Even with...

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