Skip to main content

Super Hakucho Express

Recognizer by Daft Punk theme music for this post



One of my goals this last trip was to ride through the Seikan Tunnel, a 33 mile long stretch of underground blackness that connects Honshu to Hokkaido - possible site for a new Shinkasen line. One of my young girlfriends turned me on to this tunnel. She had gone with her family a year ago and bought me back an easy to read manga about this tunnel, and ever since I have been wanting to go. And so here I was. The actual tunnel portion is in video form. When I say there's nothing, I mean it literally. It is just one massive beautifully engineered construction tunnel with no scenery. It takes almost a full 30 or 40 minutes to get through it, which for me is a little unnerving since the incline goes 14 miles down and 14 miles back up.... When the train emerges from the other end a blast of white light hits your eyes.


Now, a lot of people make a big deal of the night train called Cassiopeia. A night train that takes you from Ueno Station in Tokyo to Hakodate or Sapporo. A few editors from the paper have written about the experience, and none of them had convinced me then and now that paying 40,000 yen would be worth it; I highly don't recommend it. Reason being is because you see nothing from the window. For me, the train trip is best enjoyed with a nice big window seat, beer, sake, and obento. Although I have ridden on some trains like the Cassiopeia, but better, the Christmas train from Fukushima to Niigata is much better than the Cassiopeia!

The thing I liked about the Hakucho was how it gently worked itself around the countryside. You got nice full views of that vast expansive land called Hokkaido; all silky white. You even get ocean views of tiny little village towns. I think of all the train lines in Hokkaido, the Super Hakucho is at the top of the list of must rides, and I agree. You can really take in some nice views from this line. From Shin-Aomori Station the Hakucho connects you to Hakodate. The whole ride is about 3 or more hours, but definitely worth it. It's a bit long but worth it at least once.


In the picture this bento is called the Mikado, and it's a specialty lunch box only available in Hakodate. The signature food item is the fat round thing at the top; it's a stuffed squid marinated in squid juice. The stuffing is a sticky rice. It was actually quite good.

Again, some footage is in video form which will be posted on my youtube. There are some really nice ocean views I wish I had of captured in stills, but I was too absorbed in the moment. Lots of beer, sake, and delicious lunch boxes does it to me, and it kept me too busy to notice much on the technicals.

Recommended seats:


From Shin-Aomori to Hakodate - reserve your seat. When the train pulls up, you want to sit on the left side with chairs facing the opposite direction. At first you'll think it's awkward, but don't worry it's a switchback train( a train that changes directions). After the next stop the train will reverse its direction, this way you'll be facing all the action.... Then seats MAY already be in the proper direction anyway....

Hokkaido Travel Tips on raveable


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,…