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.
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....