Friday, March 21, 2008


This past Monday I had a work meeting in a town called Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo in the Tochigi Prefecture (similar to a U.S. state). To get there, we took the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train, check this thing out.Now, I have only seen these things on the discovery channel, thinking that can't be for-real, maybe its CGI. But nope, there it is, this train is a N700 series, and runs between Nagoya and Tokyo with trains leaving every 10 minutes or so. Some trains are local and stops every 15 minutes in route to Tokyo. The train my colleague and I took was a limited express that made one stop Yokohama. It took about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Tokyo, I guess this thing runs at 270km/hr or about 167 mph. There are also different levels of ticketing. You can get a smoking or non-smoking car and a low class or green car. The low class car is 5 seats across and non-reserve, the green car is four seats across and reserved. We ended up getting a non-smoking green car.The first leg was from Nagoya to Tokyo. We had a 15 minute transfer to another style of bullet train to Utsunomiya, above is the train we actually took. These trains are connected in the middle, that's why they look like they are kissing.

The trains are cool, but I think the most amazing thing about this system is you don't need to plan. If you are chillin' in Nagoya and think to yourself, "I want to go to Tokyo, or Osaki, or Hiroshima, or any number of cool places." All you have to do is stand up, walk to the train station, buy a ticket and you are on your way 10 minutes later. It' awesome, no need to be on the internet searching for tickets weeks before your trip. You just go. Now the green car cost Y19400 one way, but that's not to bad when compared to a flight between Detroit and Chicago. Plus, there is no waiting at an airport or security to go through. You can also buy sushi and snacks on the platform before you leave. That have this thing all figured out.

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