I. Am. Out.
Quarantine was over, and Japan is at my mercy. Traveling down to Nagoya would be a cinch as I would be taking the Shinkansen, the bullet train. The main goal was to not make a mistake while going through public life in Tokyo. Don’t lose your ticket. Stand on the correct side of the escalator (left side). Watch what others do before doing it myself.
Thankfully, I wouldn’t be alone in navigating the travel. A group of us had been stuck in the hotel and it made the journey all the more comfortable to be going along with them.
With the training wheels off, so to speak, anything and anywhere was free range. After two weeks of Zoom meetings and lag time, it was a nice change of pace to really have a chance to go about Japan together. With most of us situating around the Nagoya area, plans have been readily made to meet again in person.
The Shinkansen is something to behold. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to walk to the front to get a photo, but the lead train car resembles a bottle-nosed dolphin head. It’s then followed quickly after by 16 passenger cars.
It’s baffling to think that the bullet train has been a staple of Japanese society since the 60s. From a foreigner’s perspective, the level of efficiency with which it travels is almost unearthly.
The ride will be 1 hour and 30 minutes. Comparatively, it would have taken 3 to 4 hours by car. That’s just under the amount of time it takes to drive from Minneapolis to Grand Marais. Or a half hour less the total time from St. Louis to Chicago. (Now imagine if we had something like that back home!)
The route hugs along the eastern coastline of the country, with only a few stops along the way. Once Yokohama is past, it’s a straight ride to Nagoya. It’s hard not to be lulled into a sort of sleep; the Shinkansen is that quiet. I’m sure there’s a 3-hour video out there of pure Shinkansen sounds for white noise to fall asleep to.
The morning of departure was fairly cloudy, and I was a little dismayed. Would the weather permit a chance to see Fuji-san, as the locals call her? One of the primary reasons of coming to Japan was to view the natural wonder.
As we rounded the bend, the mountains rose up on either side. Urban sprawl rolled out between the ridges and the forested hills. There were flashes of the ocean and Tokyo Bay of Yokohama. There were rice fields amongst the buildings too. Yet the clouds persisted. Stubborn and low, they clung to the tops of the peaks, teasing me.
As we approached the area where Mount Fuji could be seen, however, an amazing thing happened. The skies parted. The houses shone as the sun spilled through, and there just to the right, rising above the nearest peaks…
No snow on the top, but still incredible. And the speed of the Shinkansen made it a fleeting sight. A minute later and we had plunged into yet another tunnel. Like with Tokyo, I made a vow that I would visit again and take the time to look around. When that will be, who knows!