By Train to Okayama
I was on my second independent trip to Japan, and I had
been on the Art Island of
for a few days, after a few days in
Now I would continue southwest to Hiroshima, and then to Kyūshū island and Fukuoka and Nagasaki.
I'll start with an express train from Uno Station to Okayama.
This is the ferry that makes several short trips every day between Miyanoura, the main port on the small island of Naoshima, and Uno, a purpose-built rail ferry port on Honshū, Japan's largest island.
You walk through its marshaling area to the street, step around the metal turtle, go around the traffic circle, and into the station. Trains are synchronized to the ferry, you only have roughly 10 minutes to get to the station, buy your ticket, and get on board. Or, through most of the day, wait about an hour for the next train.
Express Train to Okayama
I made it!
This is an Express train, meaning that it does not stop at every station and platform along the way. It moves at well over 100 km/h, nowhere near as fast as the streamlined Shinkansen. But it's a comfortable ride that moves right along.
Mountaintop stupas? No, mobile phone network and UHF/microwave relay.
After a little over 20 minutes we reach Chayamachi, where everyone gets out and waits to connect to another train. This is Japan, it will be a short wait and all the trains will be precisely on time.
I had noticed many French visitors in Naoshima. It's a very popular destinations for visitors from France. Station signs and advertising between the high-speed Shinkansen rail line in Okayama and Uno have more French overall than English.
Here's our train.
I will have lunch on board the high-speed train. The Food Terrace in the Okayama Station will provide plenty of choices.
I plan on a sushi box, but I'll have a look at everything first.
Here are the sushi boxes.
To the Shinkansen
I have my ticket for Hiroshima.
Americans tend to mispronounce and slur Hiroshima or ひろしま it as if it were "heh-ROW-shma". All the syllables should get roughly equal stress: "he-row-she-ma".
There's the sign for my train: the 13:15 Nozomi on track 21.
|のぞみ||Nozomi||The fastest service, stopping only at the largest stations|
|ひかり||Hikari||Not the fastest service, but limited station stops.|
|こだま||Kodama||Stops at all Shinkansen stations, the cheapest, if you reserve in advance.|
A sign tells you where to stand to board your car. The first three cars (or 5 on Hikari) have unreserved seating, which is cheaper. It's 2+3 instead of 2+2 seating, you can't reserve a specific seat, and you have to walk farther to and from your car at the origin and destination stations. But it's still a luxurious ride.
There are four Shinkansen platforms.
There is frequent service. Here is a train on the platform opposite mine.
Here comes my train.
After close to a week in informal Takamatsu and then far more informal Naoshima, I'm back in the land of the black-clad Salaryman.
This train is an N700 series, with a maximum speed of 300 km/h. It can accelerate at 2.6 km/h/s, letting it reach 270 km/h in just three minutes.
I selected an open window seat.
I bought a sushi bento box in the station.
Unwrap the paper, and the container looks like wood. It's plastic foam below, with a thin cardstock lid.
Salmon roll and salmon sushi. It's the finest of the fishes. There is soy sauce in the small plastic fish-shaped container, wasabi, and pickled ginger slices.
GPS shows we're moving at 270 km/h. We'll be in Hiroshima soon.
I have arrived in Hiroshima. My train left within two minutes, continuing on to Hakara station in Fukuoka. Shinkansen station stops are quite short. Another train has already pulled in. This one terminated at Hiroshima, so it will be in the station long enough for a crew change.
The engineer's compartment is separate from the passenger area, the crew must exit and enter at stations. Don't forget your keys.
This is a 500 series Shinkansen, capable of 320 km/h. It's in a special "Shinkansen: Evangelion Project" livery commemorating the anniversary of an anime series.
To the Tram
Hiroshima's streetcar system started operation in 1912, and a few cars dating from before World War II are still in service.
I'm at the train station, at the far right on this map. "You are here." I need to wait for a #6 line train, on the Yellow line. That gets me close to where I'm staying with a single ride.
Have coins ready. You pay ¥160 in exact change as you disembark. De-tram. Dis-em-streetcar. Whatever.
As other cities have disassembled their streetcar networks, or updated their fleets, Hiroshima has purchased their rolling stock at low prices. San Francisco has done something similar.
The Hiroshima system is now called "The Moving Streetcar Museum". It has 298 streetcars, more than any other city in Japan. Here's my #6 tram.
To the HostelJ-Hoppers
I had a bed reserved at the J-Hoppers hostel. It's a former traditional ryokan converted to more of a backpacker style hostel.
It's very easy to find. Take the tram to the Dobashi stop. Go one block east from the main street. Then find the street with the visible electrical power lines.
Here's my place!
The beds are in pods. Top and bottom compartments with heavy curtains. I had a floor-level one.
My own futon and duvet, small locking cabinet, electrical outlet, and hangers. Nice!
The above is specific to Hiroshima. Or maybe you want to explore other places in Japan.
Akihabara, Tōkyō's Electric Town
Electronics parts and tools, the otaku lifestyle, cosplay, anime, and manga
Travel through Kyūshū, the Harbor, Temples, Shrines, the Samurai Path, and a World War II Bunker