When the countdown broadcast starts from the mission control tower, the din of daily life gradually subsides and all eyes gravitate to one point.
With each passing second, the moment draws closer.
Needless to say, everyone stays right where they are.
T-minus 20 seconds.
T-minus 10 seconds.
With a thunderous roar, an inferno propels the rocket skyward.
Toward orbit, toward space, straight up, and up...
Out of sight!
The image for me is new and unique and there is nothing else like it.
It was a bizarre feeling to watch such a huge object hurtle straight up.
There was magic at work.
It was the first time in my life to truly think something so preposterous.
But at that moment, it seemed like an otherworldly event.
Applause naturally broke out as we watched the rocket leaving the Earth.
Streaking into the blue sky and into space beyond, it left behind contrails like a highway in the air.
What were people doing at this time?
I asked a few whom I had met.
A mother doing some shopping watched it from her yard; the caretaker of an old-fashioned house watched from the place with the best star gazing in Japan; a shopkeeper stepped outside (the only time to leave the store all day); a farmer in the field stopped tending the crops; a surfer paddled away from a set of waves; elementary school students went out to their schoolyard. Everyone's eyes were on the rocket.
On this day, wherever they were on the island, probably every person was looking at the sky.
That is a rocket launch day on Tanegashima.
A young guy next to me said, "Seriously glad I came!" and I nodded in agreement.