The Five Yen of Happiness! Shinkansen to Tokyo
- I give in – I need a break (Introduction)
- To Heathrow and The BA Galleries North Lounge
- BA902 London Heathrow to Frankfurt Airport in Club Europe
- Bumbling around Frankfurt Airport with random #AVGeek spotting
- Meeting the A350 and the Air Canada Lounge
- Qatar Airways QR068 Frankfurt to Doha
- The joy of Hamad International Airport, and The Oryx Rotana Hotel
- Qatar Airways Flight QR812 Doha to Tokyo Haneda
- The Hotel JAL City Haneda Tokyo
- Shikansen Adventures to Hiroshima!
- Time in Hiroshima (featuring the ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima)
- Hirosihima – 70 years on
- A day trip to Itsukushima
- More Shinkansen fun to Kyoto (Featuring Kyoto Tower Hotel)
- A trip up to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
- Dinner with The real_jetsetr!
- The JR Central SC Maglev and Rail Museum
- Shinkansen to Tokyo
- The Strings by InterContinental
- Cheap evening – From the Tokyo Metropolitan Building
- The JR East Railway Museum, Saitama
- Shibuya nights
- Akihabara Days
- Gotta Catch them All! A few Pokemon Centres.
- Off to Narita
- Nartia Airport, The JAL Lounge
- Qatar Airways Flight QR807 Tokyo Narita to Doha
- Four and Half Hours in Doha Airport
- Qatar Airways Flight QR067 Doha to Frankfurt
- More time in Frankfurt
- BA8735 Frankfurt to London City Airport (Club Europe)
- And about that Five Yen Coin – The Sensoji Temple, Asakusa
With my time in Kyoto coming to an end, it was time for the last big trip on the Shinkansen – back to the madhouse of Tokyo.
Well – Tokyo would seem nuts after the cities I’ve been in which have been a bit saner. Thankfully, the walk from Tokyo Tower Hotel to the station is a short one.
The biggest trick for those of you who are heading for the Shinkansen is to head to the “Shinkansen Gates” as opposed to heading through the main gates – mainly as you’ll find the Reservations office (The Midori-no-madoguchi). If you’re using a JR Rail Pass – you’ll need to do this.
Once in the queue for the reservations, it’s a matter of waiting. On the plus side, it was air-conditioned. Which is nice after carrying my backpack in the heat of Kyoto.
With a ticket issued, it was time for priorities to be sorted. Yes, time for another Ekiben.
With that done, it was time to face the growing heat as Japan transitioned from the rainy season to the summer season – and head up to the platforms.
Sellers trying to sell local Omiyage.
Onto the platform, it was time to raid another vending machine for a drink and see what was going on. And to my delight, there were two people in traditional dress on the platform, heading for the next Nozomi.
After this Nozomi departed, my Hikari arrived for the trip to Tokyo… or more precisely – Shinawaga. Another N700 train to take me onwards.
Or rather I would have had. The reservation agent that I had booked my ticket on was running down the platform. What had I done wrong now?
Apparently, the agent made a mistake, and instead of issuing me with a Green Car reservation, I had been issued one for an ordinary car!
The horror and shock – honestly – I didn’t notice the ticket until the agent pointed it out.
I was escorted to the correct carriage, and the ticket agent waited until I boarded the train before they left.
That’s what I call customer service.
As usual, the Shinkansen arrived on time, and shot out of the station on time. Which meant it was time to break open this Ekiben.
Another lovely mix, featuring lots of things I’m useless at identifying. It’s still a better option than a sandwich on a cold British railway station. Then again, anything is better than a sandwich on a cold British Railway station.
With the train accelerating away, I sat back with my Ekiben and watch the scenery unfold. During the past few days – the weather had been less than ideal. Now… it was lovely out in the world.
The train slowed for Shin-Osaka as the urban sprawl took over the landscape.
The train came to a stop as it dropped off and picked up passengers for the trek to Tokyo – and soon enough, we were off again.
The urban jungle changed back to the mixture of countryside and towns as the train headed on its way to Tokyo, making a few more stops on the way.
This was also the perfect time to see how fast I was going. And as usual, it was pleasing to see the speedometer broken.
Grey clouds came… and thankfully went.
The grey clouds dissipated as the train sped on.
Eventually, the countryside dissipated as we neared Shin-Yokahama.
From here on, the train was on gentler speeds, and the final sign for me to get ready to get off the train. Trains don’t tend to hang around at stations in Japan, so its good manners to get up and get ready to get off when the first announcements are made for your destination.
With the train arriving in Shinagawa, I took my leave of the train (mainly as I didn’t fancy a trip up to Tokyo station, to go all the way back to this station) – and also because my hotel was a short walk from the station.
Overall: The Shinkansen network is a wonderful form of inter-city travel, getting you from A to B with the minimal possible fuss, and with great customer service. On routes that are less than 3 hours (even 4 hours), I’m not sure I would even consider flying at all, when there’s a frequent service like this competing.
I’ve said that High Speed Rail is a valid option a few times already in different circumstances – and when high-speed rail is done right (with dedicated lines, proper infrastructure and timings), it works and gives any other form of transport a run for its money.
Next: I’m back in Tokyo – which means its time to head to my usual digs. So far we’ve had tiny rooms and medium-sized rooms. Time for some Intercontinental sized rooms as I head to the Strings by Intercontinental
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