Back to Tokyo - Mt Fuji awaits
Trip Start Apr 25, 2006
76Trip End Apr 25, 2007
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Ready to face the music after trash-talking a little too much about my 10-pin prowess, I met up with "the gang" (Mika, Emi, Tomo & Yumi) for a 10-pin bowling bonanza goodbye bash. I choose not to remember the scores because my leg hurt so it didn't really count. Basically I was whipped by everyone, but had a great time all the same.
The following day was my last hurrah - a trip up Mt Fuji. A hire car had been organised, so I saddled up with Shiho, Yoshi and Yumi to conquer the mountain. The weather had other ideas, and completely shrouded Mt Fuji in thick clouds to make any sort of views impossible. Still keen to have a bit of a trek, I essentially dragged the Japanese contingency up the mountain through freezing heavy rains until they would go no further. I was happy enough to discover blocks of ice and to test out my new waterproof jacket under worthy conditions. After defrosting digits and devouring a bowl of hot soup at the refuge it was time to head home.
An ode to the Shinkansen
After spending so much time travelling on the Shinkansen trains while in Japan I have had plenty of time to reason why they are in fact so damn cool.
1. They are incredibly quiet - they raise property prices rather than lower them. No need to build a huge station in the stix, because they don't need a lot of room and can simply run straight out of the middle of a city.
2. Comfortable - tons of legroom, tons of luggage space, no turbulence, more to see out the window, fast (300km/h), and safe (zero recorded fatalities).
3. Always on time - in Japan the thousands of trains manage to run to the minute! Even after a 10hr trip I arrived exactly to the minute. Get this: calculated from around 160,000 trips, "in 2003 JR Central reported that the Shinkansen's average arrival time was within 0.1 minutes or 6 seconds of the scheduled time." Not even the Germans come close.
5. Environmentally friendly - well, potentially anyway. They allow the flexibility to choose how to supply the electricity, so there is not an absolute dependence on fossil fuels.
Don't forget to buy your 7, 14, 21 or 28 day Japan Rail Pass before you get to Japan, because you cannot purchase one once you are there. Japan Airways offices act as sales agents in many countries, but take a look at this list for available international offices. Basically you purchase an "exchange order" outside of Japan, and when you arrive you exchange it for your Japan Rail Pass at one of the major train stations or airport. It may seem expensive, but travel in Japan is expensive! My 21 day pass all but paid for itself with a return trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, and was even valid for MetroRail use within cities.