Shinkansen arrives at Hiroshima.

Traveling to Hiroshima

By Train to Okayama

I was on my second independent trip to Japan, and I had been on the Art Island of Naoshima for a few days, after a few days in Takamatsu.

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.

Ferry from Naoshima to Honshō.

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.

Portion of Tactical Pilotage Chart G-11D.

Portion of Tactical Pilotage Chart G-11D from the Perry Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas.

Ferry from Naoshima to Honshō.

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.

Express train from Uno to Okayama.
Express train from Uno to Okayama.

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.

Chayamachi train station between Uno to Okayama.

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.

Chayamachi train station between Uno to Okayama.
Chayamachi train station between Uno to Okayama.

Here's our train.

Chayamachi train station between Uno to Okayama.
Chayamachi train station between Uno to Okayama.

Okayama Station

I will have lunch on board the high-speed train. The Food Terrace in the Okayama Station will provide plenty of choices.

Food Terrace in Okayama Station.

I plan on a sushi box, but I'll have a look at everything first.

Food Terrace in Okayama Station.
Food Terrace in Okayama Station.
Food Terrace in Okayama Station.

Here are the sushi boxes.

Food Terrace in Okayama Station.

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.
さくら Sakura
こだま Kodama Stops at all Shinkansen stations, the cheapest, if you reserve in advance.
Schedule sign in Okayama Station.

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.

Seating sign in Okayama Station.

There are four Shinkansen platforms.

Tracks in Okayama Station.

There is frequent service. Here is a train on the platform opposite mine.

Shinkansen arrives at Okayama Station.

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.

Shinkansen arrives at Okayama Station.

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.

Shinkansen arrives at Okayama Station.

I selected an open window seat.

Shinkansen arrives at Okayama Station.

Unboxing Lunch

I bought a sushi bento box in the station.

Sushi lunch on board the Shinkansen.

Unwrap the paper, and the container looks like wood. It's plastic foam below, with a thin cardstock lid.

Sushi lunch on board the Shinkansen.

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.

Sushi lunch on board the Shinkansen.
Sushi lunch on board the Shinkansen.

ハイボール
Ha-i-bo—ru

Sushi lunch on board the Shinkansen.

GPS shows we're moving at 270 km/h. We'll be in Hiroshima soon.

GPS readout on phone.

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.

Arriving in Hiroshima.
Arriving in Hiroshima.

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.

EVA 500 Shinkansen in Hiroshima.
EVA 500 Shinkansen in Hiroshima.
EVA 500 Shinkansen in Hiroshima.

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.

Hiroshima tram system.

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.

Hiroshima tram.
Inside a Hiroshima tram.

To the Hostel

J-Hoppers
Hiroshima

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.

Electrical power lines in Hiroshima.
Electrical power lines in Hiroshima.
Electrical power lines in Hiroshima.
Electrical power lines in Hiroshima.
Electrical power lines in Hiroshima.

Here's my place!

Exterior of J-Hoppers hostel in Hiroshima.
Interior of J-Hoppers hostel in Hiroshima.

The beds are in pods. Top and bottom compartments with heavy curtains. I had a floor-level one.

Interior of J-Hoppers hostel in Hiroshima.

My own futon and duvet, small locking cabinet, electrical outlet, and hangers. Nice!

Interior of J-Hoppers hostel in Hiroshima.

The above is specific to Hiroshima. Or maybe you want to explore other places in Japan.

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