Japan: shinkansen, baby!

I forgot how smooth and quiet the shinkansen is. And punctual, like northern European trains were 20 years ago. And crazy long – 16 cars!
I don’t recall noticing a train bank so much, which is obviously necessary on the winding tracks west through greater Tokyo.

Non smoking, quiet, clean… 3-2 seating in airline-like seating (but more leg room) with a tray table.
Only complaints: no power ports and this annoying window municipal tray that hits my bicep and I can’t comfortably rest my arm on the armrest under it. U suspect this is because the seat should have been further back so that the ledge would be more in front of me.

Update: 2nd train had 2-2 seating with a better placed window tray, and one power port (with a sign that “supply voltage may shutdown or fluctuate”).

So this morning I was up early and went for a dawn walk along the river before breakfast, then headed to Tokyo Station where I exchanged my rail pass voucher and made free reservations for the 3 days of train travel (having done research online at Hyperdia at the hostel), exchanged some cash for Yen at Travelex (since they don’t do cash advance in visa credit cards and banks aren’t open), and bought some more clothing at UniQlo (which has a small store in the train station, which opens early even on weekends – turns out I “overpaid” at 7-11 as I picked up better underwear, socks and a T-shirt for ¥1000/$9 combined).

I actually couldn’t reserve the first shinkansen (to Shin-Osaka) I wanted, so I left 30 minutes later (seems they run hourly, and sometimes half-hourly). There are unreserved cars on the train, but I didn’t want to fight for a seat or have to stand for 3 hours.

FYI, shin means new, and bashi means bridge (as in Asakusabashi vs neighbouring Asakusa). Speaking of which, that “u” is silent (pronounced Ah-suk-sah), but the local train line’s bilingual announcements did pronounce the “u” in the English announcement (as ah-sah-koo-sah), since most gaijin would (mis)pronounce it that way.

And while we are on tangents, the subways and local trains in Tokyo are great, even if they do stop before 1am on weekend nights.

Collage has bullet nose of shinkansen, my first elbow room issue, snacks inc cheese-stuffed squid and strawberry-filled crepe to go (with an actual strawberry in it!):


One thought on “Japan: shinkansen, baby!”

  1. I am always addressed by your solitary adventures. You make me aware of my ‘social’ bias. Enjoying your never-ending explorations, Ken

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