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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......


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