Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Rittou: Pheasants enter the water and turns into monster clams/ paulownia leaves fall (1 of 5)

November 19th, 2008

rittou11of15

[click on image to play video]

The plan today was to explore the island further on foot before heading back to Tokyo in the early evening. As we walked around Miyanoura (the port village) the fresh morning wind turned unbearably cold. After having lunch at the local udon store next to the fisherman’s co-op, we decided to head back to Honshu (the main island).

As before the journey was broken up into a number of transfers, but these train trips were somewhat more leisurely. The local service on the Uno line bound for Chayamachi made frequent stops at stations surrounded by fields of vegetables and ploughed soil. The Marine-liner rapid service once again took us back to the city of Okayama where we made our transfer to Shinkasen (a.k.a bullet train). After selecting a bento each from a dazzling array of foods available, we hopped on board the Hikari 15:28 service bound for Tokyo and found two seats by the window in car no. 1.

Train travel is a joy in Japan. One can reach many places by rail and the services are, for most part, very reliable and frequent. All trains depart on a schedule that is timed to the minute. The scheduling of the Shinkasen is especially precise. There are three types of bullet trains: the Nozomi (meaning ‘hope’) which is the fastest and makes only a few stops; the Hikari (meaning ‘light’) comes next, and the Kodomo (meaning ‘echo’) which makes frequent stops. Riding the Shinkansen is probably about as expensive as flying, but the experience is incomparable.

There is no check-in process, no security screening, all lugguage is taken on board with the passenger. Fifty to sixty percent of the seats can be reserved, with the rest available for passengers who did not make reservations. Although the seats are modelled on that of the plane, there is plenty of leg room. Passengers are not confined to their seats. Food and drinks can be taken on board (and what a great variety there is at the stations). What better ways can combine the love of travel with the love of food? This is civilised travel.

2 Responses to “Rittou: Pheasants enter the water and turns into monster clams/ paulownia leaves fall (1 of 5)”

  1. 1 Silvia Kwon
    December 12th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Currently living with a toddler who is obsessed with all train/rail related things, I can only imagine what a shinkasen experience will be like for him – never mind for the parents…I must say the idea of travelling in a country with such an impressive rail system combined with wonderful food seems irresistable..

  2. 2 jolaw
    December 15th, 2008 at 8:19 am

    It is very common to see little kids and not-so-little kids glued to the window that looks into the driver’s cabin in the front carriage. At the very front of most suburban trains (both overground and underground), one can see out to the tracks as the train zooms around its route. One can also observe the many almost ritualistic routines of the much respected train driver and his/ her amazing control panel. I often wonder whether these train drivers have suceeded in fulfilling their life-long ambitions.