Monday, August 21, 2017

Japan: Map and trains

I have been asked for a map to illustrate our route - so here is one with our main connections from Hokkaido to Fuji, and some of the locations marked that we visited. Click to see in Google maps.
How did we travel? almost exclusively by train.


On the train ...

On the train 2
Travelling in Japan must be done by train, unless in remote areas where services dwindle. For us, we do so even in remote areas, as Chris is not interested in driving in foreign places - even though they do drive on the left here! Fortunately the trains are fabulous - clean, fast, frequent and as regular as clockwork. With a railpass we even get to travel on the expensive Shinkansen (bullet train), but I prefer the inter city express trains, that have bigger windows, and still travel quite fast enough. I already talked about the very lovely eating-on-trains tradition, but did I mention the sleeping-on-trains tradition? A lot. Even on the subway.

Then there are the local trains, no reservations, and usually filled with schoolkids, salarymen, and women with shopping. They are efficient but not high tech - in fact in common with much of Japan, they are distinctly retro in style. This is when things slow down and it’s possible to take a few photos. The slowest train of all was the one from Osuki to Mt Fuji (Kawaguchiko) - almost one hour to travel 27 km! Very rustic …

Can’t finish with trains without mentioning Hyperdia, the amazing app that lets you plan train routes - with all times, connections and often even platforms listed. It even works on the Tokyo train/subway system - that is another kettle of fish (or can of worms …).

Rustic train and station - Takikawa in Hokkaido
From the (slow) train
Sleeping ...

The Shinkansen cometh ...
At the station - Yamagata
Local train to Nikko
Eating on the train
Station on the local Fuji line

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