To Tokyo!

The time had finally come to head to Tokyo! I was sad to leave kansai, especially without having had the chance to meet up with my old students, but I’ll be back again!  And the thought of getting to go to Tokyo for my first time had me pretty excited!

There’s a few ways of getting to Tokyo from Osaka, the cheap option of a night bus is a good choice, as you travel overnight you also save on accommodation, and prices are only 3000-5000 yen depending on how much comfort you want.  There’s also of course the option of flying, which is relatively cheap & quite quick, though you need to allow about an extra couple of hours to get to and from each airport.  Of course there’s also the option to drive, or with a lot of time and changes use local trains.

Shinkansen!

Naturally though the Shinkansen was my chosen travel method, you get to travel in style while watching the countryside & mountains of Japan fly past at 300kmph!  There are a few choices of Shinkansen to Tokyo from Osaka, The Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama Shinkansen.

Kodama is a little cheaper, but stops at all stations so takes over 4 hours.  The Hikari is a middle ground taking about 3 hours, and is the quickest covered by the JR Rail Pass.  And finally the Nozomi, which is the quickest of all getting to Tokyo in a little under 2 and half hours, only stopping a few times along the way.  Just something to note, you need to have the correct ticket for the correct Shinkansen (obviously), so if you buy a Kodama Shinkansen ticket then you can’t get on the Hikari or Nozomi.

Being that I hadn’t bothered with a JR Rail Pass (They are only really worth it if you are taking two or more long distance Shinkansen trips), I opted to take the fastest Nozomi Shinkansen, 13000 yen or so later and I was on the platform ready and waiting!  I attempted to get a picture of it arriving, but wasn’t quick enough, I blinked for a second and it was in the station!

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*A quick note for anime fans, sadly the Type 500 Eva (Neon Genesis themed) Shinkansen, is currently out of service until around the end of May 2017, so sadly you can’t go on that right now 😦 I was hoping to at least see it, but it only runs Osaka toward Fukuoka, so it wouldn’t have helped me get to Tokyo.

On the platform you need to make sure you’re lined up for the right car, as the forward cars are normally for reserved seats only, while the next few are often Green cars, basically like first class, more space, comfier seats etc.  And the last few are generally for the non-reserved standard tickets.

The interior in the non-reserved cars is still really nice and spacious though (I can only imagine what the Green cars are like), there are cabins at the ends for luggage storage, and wide overhead rails big enough to accommodate large wheelie suitcases.  Though there was so much leg room between the seats that I just parked my mid sized case in front of me (and still had plenty of foot space!).

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The seats are really comfortable, really wide, and have the option of reclining, as well as a laptop / table tray as well.  The car itself is also really well sound proofed, even blasting along at 300kph it’s practically silent, you can’t hear the noise of the tracks, or wind outside.

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Quarter of an hour after setting off we made the first stop in Kyoto, if you ride a Shinkansen and have luggage it’s worth bearing in mind the Shinkansen does not stop at each stop for long, just a minute or two, so you’d better be ready to get off when it reaches your stop.

A few minutes after Kyoto and we were flying past Ishiyama at the southern end of Shiga, again last year I’d watched the Shinkansen fly past while walking along the river bank in Ishiyama, so it was nice to briefly get a glimpse of that area again, with Lake Biwa just about visible in the distance.

Half an hour after that and it was time to make another quick stop in Nagoya, a city which I still would like to visit at some point, but for now I got to wave goodbye to it from out of the window.  This was also the final stop before the two Tokyo stations.

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As more of the Japan flew past out of the window I ended up falling asleep for a while, a combination of being burnt out from lots of walking and exploring, as well as late nights and fighting off some form of virus over the last few days had left me needing a bit of rest.

I woke up though just as we were passing Shizuoka and nearing the Mt Fuji region, unfortuenly though as the Shinkansen exited a tunnel into this region, the outside skies were dark and rain outside had caused a layer of mist which limited the views.  I glanced at the GPS on my phone and as the Shinkansen flew past Mt Fuji nothing but grey skies and clouds could be seen 😦  On a clear day the view of Mt Fuji from the Shinkansen should be great, but the weather had denied me the chance to see the sacred mountain for this trip.

2 and a bit hours after leaving Osaka and I was in Tokyo! First making a stop at Shinagawa on the outskirts, before the Shinkansen pulled in for it’s final stop at Tokyo main station.

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