Sunday, January 25, 2009

11/7/08: Day 8 in Japan - Trains of Japan Part I

As today is a travel day, this entry will focus on the trains that I rode in the first half of my trip.

While most of America is automobile-based society, Japan is heavily reliant on rail. Japan boasts perhaps the most modern and cleanest train system in the world.

I used a Japan Railways (JR) Rail Pass, which allows for unlimited rides for predetermined time frame. For my purpsses, I purchased "Green Car" ticket valid for two weeks for 60,000 Yen (about $570 at the time of the purchase.)

Shortly after landing, I took the Narita Express to go from airport located in Chiba Prefecture to Tokyo Station.

The "Green Car" is like the train version of Business Class, and in many cases, they are reserved seats. For Narita Express, the Green Cars had two rows on one side and single across the aisle. I was assigned a single seat, and here is the view across the aisle.

From Tokyo Station, I transfered to Yamanoté Line (山手線) to make a quick trip to Ueno. Here is the imposing view of Tokyo, right off the platform.

I stayed in Ueno the first night, because it was a departing point for "Komachi" Shinkansen (こまち) to Akita.

Komachi is connected to Hayaté Shinkansen (はやて) destined for Aomori. The trains separate at Morioka Station. I boarded Hayaté when traveling to-and-from Iwaté Prefecture (Nanbu Bijin).

In order to get to Yashima, home of Tenju Brewery, I transfered to the local Uetsu Line (羽越本線) once arriving at Akita City. I rode Uetsu Line quite a bit during my travels within Akita.

Further more, I made one more transfer to even more local train at Ugo Honjo Station. This is Chokaisan Roku Line (鳥海山ろく線). And by "even more local," this train ran on diesel as opposed to electricity (note the lack of wire above the train car). This is quite a transition from the Shinkansen...

I came across a different type of train when heading from Akita City to Tsuruoka (Také No Tsuyu, Eiko Fuji). This is "Inaho" Limited Express (特急いなほ). This train reminded me of the modern Japanese trains... from the late 70's/early 80's.

After Tsuruoka, I took Inaho to Niigata where I transfered to Shinkansen "Max Inabiko" (MAX いなびこ).

What's different about MAX Inabiko is that it is a double decker version of the bullet train.

After returning to Tokyo, I took subways to get to Oakwood Midtown near Roppongi then to Meguro. One thing about Japanese subway station is that it is very clean. Take note, MTA!

Here is the interior of the every day commuter train. Unlike the hard plastic seats, Japanese subways and commuter seats have comfortable cushions.

On my way to Osaka, I went through Tokyo Station. Here is one of their ticket gates. In Japan, they use either mangetic tickets or Suica cards. The tickets are inserted into the gates for verification at both entrance and exits, as fares vary according to the distance traveled. I admit I like the MTA pricing policy of $2.00 for a ride regardless of distance!

To get to Osaka, I rode "Hikari" Shinkansen (ひかり). There is a fasster line called Nozomi (のぞみ), but it is excluded from the Rail Pass program.

Here is the interior of the Green Car for Hikari. It is very modern and sleek, which wouldn't be out of place in Star Trek.

Part II of the Trains set will be available at the end of the trip...


yucca said...


KCinNYC said...



(江ノ電はPart IIをご期待下さい。)