Skip to main content

Winter Vacation pt.1: Shin-Aomori


Theme music for this post:For Years and Years by Helios
My whole trip turned out excellent. I learned a lot about myself and even more about Japan. I take nothing for granted. The level of convenience Japan offers is world-class, which is probably why so many tourist flocks here, especially during the winter. Japan's extensive rail networks, the excellent customer service, the delicious food, and the knowledgeable taxi drivers, the four star resort hotels are simply the best. For a nation so steeped in history and tradition, no other country on earth even comes close to Japan's scale of technological development on any of the above mentioned.

It all started out at Tokyo Station at 6a.m. I was waiting on the platform for the Tohoku Shinkansen to pull up. My middle was full of nervous anticipation for the long journey ahead. Most Tokyoites would never ride the Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori - 3h50m-on vacation. I'm sure most would rather fly than to enjoy a nice rail trip. I chose both. Ride the train up then fly back. Perfect.
The Tohoku Shinkansen pulled up exactly at 10 minutes before 6:28. The exterior was clean and fresh looking with its sleek aerodynamic design. When I boarded I was impressed at how spacious it was. Finding my seat was easy and I had plenty of leg room once I had sat down. The smell of the interior was like that of a brand new car- elegance and modern sophistication all combined.
The Shinkansen pulled out from the platform smoothly and at medium speed we cruised to Omiya, the first stop. Sitting back in my private seat I marveled at the technology and refinement of such a train. The Japanese have come such a long way in fusing the finest aspects of modern technology with the history and wisdom of their entire nation. A modern form of wabi-sabi if you ask me. Nothing was out of place. Everything was in order, and ordered exactly to the proper specification according to a well disciplined mind, heart, and soul.

The name of the Shinkansen is called the Hayate and it's the fastest bullet train of its kind which is soon to be replaced by the Hayabusa in March of 2011, which is supposed to cut the time in half by 20 minutes to Shin-Aomori.
For me, riding a train like this should best be enjoyed with lots of beer and sake, and of course bento after bento after bento. Each train lunch box is unique and different. You should enjoy as many as you can, not just one! Don't listen to people , enjoy yourself. I managed to chow down about five prefecture specific lunch boxes.
From my train window the views were excellent. I especially marveled at the beautiful snowscapes and rugged mountains of Iwate as we sped by and through mountain pass after mountain pass, through valley after valley, through rice paddies and snowcapped hamlets, blinking past a few herds and pastures. One Hinamaru waving in the breeze, and while all this was going on it was warm and luxurious in side the train's car. I have this scenery in video form which I need to edit and post on Youtube.

Finally arriving at Shin-Aomori Station we disembarked and snapped photos of the train signs. This phase of my journey finally ended and now it was time for me to change trains to the Super Hakucho Express. This line takes you through the Seikan Tunnel the longest underwater tunnel in the world. I think it's something like 33miles long and 14 miles deep. What a really dark experience .
To be continued......


Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…