Published: April 25th 2009April 25th 2009
Today saw us take our first Shinkansen train north to Nikko. We waited on our allocated triangle on the platform, and two minutes before departure time, the 16 car Shinkansen train pulled up precisely in front of us. I discovered that my Hong Kong bargain wristwatch was running 20 seconds fast as we pulled out of the station. I can’t believe that it was due to depart at 10:27 and 20 seconds. But then again…
The first half of the trip was through Tokyo metro, up on an elevated rail, and it didn’t feel terribly fast to us. Then after we left the next station, we could feel the driver had pushed the loud pedal further, and we were off.
In no time at all we were at Utsonomiya, where we had to board a local train to Nikko.
Nikko is a town at the foothills of a skiing area, but it is also home to a large shrine area. There was plenty of groups of tourists going through as we were, and it was quite a nice place to visit, once we found the quiet spots. The remains of the cherry blossoms were still
out, providing some nice photo opportunities.
On the second day here we visited a spot along the river where there are a long line of statues. They all had beanies on them, as well as red bibs. Some of them were missing heads or parts of them, I’m guessing due to concrete cancer, and rather than being repaired, they just wore smaller beanies.
Nikko is also home to what was billed as “the third most significant” bridge in Japan. I’ll have to read up to see exactly what made it significant, but it was nice anyway, even though it only came third!
We spent the rest of the day travelling down to Hakone, south of Tokyo. Bus down the hill to the station. (Even in a small town like Nikko, there is the JR station and the Toei station, several trains a day each, taking two different paths…) Local train, then Shinkansen to Tokyo. Seven minutes to transfer to then next platform, which we made in five… Then another very short Shinkansen to Odawara, where the local train took us to Hakone. All very easy and civilized.
At Odawara station, we had the pleasure of experiencing a super-ultra express (one that doesn’t stop as often as the super express) Shinkansen go thundering past us on the middle tracks while we were on the platform. OK, I’m a train spotter. But everyone in the group was blown away by the speed and total lack of sound as it approached, followed by about seven seconds of noise as 16 cars flew past. Just as quickly, serenity resumed. Amazing. (Today, we even booked a later train so that we could attempt to video and photograph this event again. Due to the shutter speed on my video camera, it only looks like it’s doing 60ks…)
There are more photos below