Saturday, 7 June 2008

Sunday 8th June 2008 - Train Lag

Travelling isn't always fun. Having spent two and a half weeks taking our time getting to Kagoshima, we now need to get back to Tokyo to catch our flight to Indonesia on Thursday. At some point a long train journey was inevitable. We left Kagoshima at 09:52 this morning.

As we're writing this we're speeding our way north on the second leg of a mammoth 12-hour journey. We're on the Relay Tsubame 4 which is similar to UK and Finnish inter-city trains (running on time). As we travel along, the final link in the Shinkansen network
is being built next to this track. The network will cover most of the country from the north of Honshu to the south of Kyushu. There's mile after mile of raised concrete towers and bridges upon which the track will be laid.

Parts of the lush green Japanese countryside are starting to turn to shades of brown, as the crops in the paddy fields are nearly ready. Every so often, the train disappears into a mist of smoke, as farmers burn the remnants of this year's corn harvest in the fields alongside the track. We speed past anonymous commuter towns, memorable only for their empty station platforms. High rise buildings punctuate the urban landscape -
from their balconies the Sunday laundry flies like flags.

The journey continues...

...We change trains in Hakata, boarding the Hikari 462 Railstar, and then change again in Himeji and Shin-Yokohama. Our high speed journey ends here. Eight and a half hours into the journey, we transfer to local trains.

At 21:37, our journey is over as we arrive in Kawaguchi-ko just by Mt Fuji (or 'Fuji-san' as it's affectionately known here). We've travelled a total of 1,500 km, made seven changes and we're on time to the minute - no engineering works or shuttle buses and we were travelling on a Sunday. The rail pass is certainly good value. Check out the before and after shots of our journey and the one train we didn't catch. It's a tough life!!!!