Started by Sir Pompously, November 29, 2009, 10:36:32 PM

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Sir Pompously

Well, here is the first part of my trip report of my journey to Japan. The trip takes me through Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Sapporo and Sendai. Part one of the report is here, another section will be done probably tomorrow when I get on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima.

QuoteSydney to Coolangatta

Flight – JQ400
Dep - SYD
Arr - OOL
Rego – VH-VGZ
Seat – 2D
Aircraft Type – A320-232
Class - Economy
STD – 6:10
STA – 6:35

A Fairly ordinary domestic flight, really. Was called from the queue as the line was quite long (Got there with plenty of time to spare), and by the time I passed through security my flight was on final call. Being the front few rows, and one of the last to board, the overhead lockers were full. So, I had to give up my camera bag in row 9. Of course, myself being pedantic I was turning around every few minutes to make sure it stayed there! Travel on this day was with two friends, Chris and David, who I went to Marist with for High School and College. This journey was the start of a much larger journey, to Tokyo and beyond.

A Short taxi out to the runway, and a sharp turn to the left saw us travelling up the coast for a short flight to Coolangatta, better known as the Gold Coast. I believe the aircraft I was on this day was infact one of JQ's newer A320's. I very much prefer the A320 over the 737, the sounds, the look and feel all play a factor in this. The bright and warm LED lighting system, and touch panel announcement system works really well for the A320. JetShop.Cafe was launched through the cabin, and had me partaking in an early morning Chicken and Mayo sandwich and a Hot Chocolate. For a pre packaged sandwich, it was actually quite nice. After this we soon began our descent into OOL, which brought us around the coastline for a runway 14 (?) arrival.

Coolangatta to Tokyo Narita

Flight – JQ11
Dep - OOL
Arr - NRT
Rego – VH- EBF
Seat – 2A
Aircraft Type – A330-200
Class – Star Class
STD – 10:50 (AEST)
STA – 18:55 (Tokyo)

I am writing this leg of the report from my seat up here in Star Class. Although working for an airline gets me cheaper travel, I decided to pay for this fare outright (And it still came in cheaper than the rest). My two friends have been left behind in Economy class, but I did give them a fleeting visit in between dessert and the snack that was just served. It is my first International Business Class journey, and I am finding it a much better way to travel, however I must not get used to this luxury!!

We checked in at the Gold Coast with plenty of time to spare. I was able to breeze through check in, took only about two minutes. Chris and David on the other hand, were stuck in the Economy Queue, which took a little longer to get through. I was happy though, there is a lot to look at in an Airport! Due to a change in flights by JetStar, our previous flight had us arriving with a lot of time to spare. After mooching around for a while, we eventually moved through security, where by I spied a Eagle Boys express pizza shop. Thinking that it would probably be 3 weeks until I have a pizza (Australian/American Style) again, I thought I would indulge in one last fattening snack before departure. We browsed through books and stores at the new Gold Coast terminal, which is very nice for an airport without two stories and any aerobridges. Customs and Immigration was fairly easy, however being pulled aside because my new LowePro backpack has something in the camera section which looks like a bottle! This slowed me down a little, but not by much. I was able to clear fairly easily, and the guy serving at Customs was quite friendly (Unlike previous experience with Customs and Immigration). We arrived into Gate 9, which is the international departure gate for all flights out of OOL. It seems weird, as it is such a small area yet has quite a few flights going out on top of each other in the morning. I had originally been allocated 1K, however was called up (My first ever call up in 97 odd flights), and my seat had been re allocated to 2A. Thankfully, 2B is currently vacant. Star Class was called first, so bidding farewell to my friends I boarded the aircraft with my fellow star classians (Passing two RAAF Caribous on the way, I am glad to see them before they head to that great place In the eternal sky). The problem with boarding first is that you have to wait for ages onboard the plane, however that is subdued by the fact the offer Juice, Water or Champagne for consumption pre flight! Watching all others board, and the Caribous getting prepped for departure, I was the end of the queue and a sense of joy overcame me as I was ready to begin the longest leg of my journey forwards to Tokyo. We had to wait for the bags to be loaded, and the engineers to finish what was needed to be done, and watching as the door closed and in a puff of smoke the engine started......Wait, that was the Caribou next to us! Any who, we started up flawlessly, and pushed back late from the bay. It would have been around 11:20 we eventually pushed back. Taxiing behind a JQ A320, we awaited its takeoff before we were able to get airborne. Flying to the south we made a turn left towards the ocean, and continued to turn until parallel to the coastline. As the seatbelt sign went off the crew leaped into action, and started preparing our meal for the day. Our choices were Pork, Chicken or Vegetarian. I decided on the Chicken, which consisted of Udon Noodles, Chicken (I Hope), a small side salad and chocolate covered macadamia nuts. My side drink was a coke, as unfortunately Bundaberg Ginger Beer was not an option, however she said she would write up about it seeing as though QF have it (And it is a traditional Aussie Carbonated beverage!). The Dessert today was a Cheesecake, and boy howdy was it good. After dessert the crew brought around the portable units used to view movies, games, TV Shows and Music. I grabbed one and although it did not work at first, the CSM's magic hands made it work and I was able to watch "Up!", for those of you who do not know it is the story of an old man who made his house fly to a far off location, with a 'Wilderness' scout in accidental tow. Another great movie by the guys and girls at Pixar. After this I travelled down to Economy, to have a chat to David and Chris. As it was the only time I would have seen them, I woke them up (Damn I am mean) and had a short chat and bragged about life in Star Class. After this 10 minute chat I headed back to my seat, and just after hooking into Twilight (Might aswell see what all the fuss is about before seeing the Movies), we were served Cheese and Crackers, with a beautiful tasting brea served along with what would have been a cheddar. Basically, this is the point where I am up to in this flight. It is time for me to put away my Macbook and relax a little more.

After this, I decided I would watch a bit more of the shows included on the portable unit. I ended up watching Futurama, and one of my favourite cartoons from my Teenage years, Ben 10. After this, I ended up being served yet again with a Meat Pie, and a strawberry ice cream. The Meat pie was well, a meat pie however the Ice Cream was just devine. After this, we were handed out immigration information and watched a video on Japan, with the woman on the video mis-pronouncing the places and various other things in Japanese. Landing was very smooth, and I was watching as an Asiana 777 came in from the side, and then eventually landed behind us. It was only a short taxi to the terminal, as we had landed fairly close to Terminal 2. Alighting, of course, I had to wait for Chris and David to hop off. It was only a short wait and David, Chris and Myself were the first people through immigration, breezed quickly through customs, and then made our way to the NEX and the JR office to exchange our rail passes.

I am completing this section of the report onboard a Shinkansen service for Shin-Osaka. It is a great feeling travelling at 275km/h on land. This is after spending a small few days in Tokyo, just wandering around the various districts doing some shopping and seeing a few sights. Tokyo will come again, however, better things await us elsewhere in other cities.


Dep - Tokyo
Arr – Shin-Osaka
Service - Hikari
Type – 700 Series
STD – 10:03
STA – 13:03
Actual – Who needs actual times on JR?

Not much to report here, if you have never been on High Speed Rail, you should! The countryside flashes past as you sit in your seat, with spectacular views of towns and mountains along the way. I would certainly take HST over air travel any day! Am currently waiting for the trolley man to come back, I feel like some Chip Star chips (Basically Pringles, however they taste better for some reason). Watching the staff work is pretty cool, their job is not easy and they do it so well. Every time they enter or exit a carriage they will bow and upon entering generally call out the service they are providing. Vending machines are provided onboard, instead of having a buffet car like most Australian trains. The only downside is the fact that the machines do not sell food, only drink. However, Bento boxes are available on most, if not all, shinkansen platforms. So an easy meal is only few steps away (If you wish to risk hopping off at stations to allow other, faster, trains to pass yours). Anyway, that is about it for this section of the report. Osaka is not to far away, and the trolley man has just come around. No Chip Star, but he has Pocky. Anyway. Check back soon.


mmm chip star, I had those everytime I was on the shinkansen as well as those meiji chocolate almonds.

Buzz Killington

Quoteento boxes are available on most, if not all, shinkansen platforms. So an easy meal is only few steps away

Oooh, Gyro!

Sir Pompously

As posted on aswell, I bring you the second part. I am working on Photos, so will have them posted asap. Have got a few trams, some buses and a few trains.

QuoteDep - Kyoto
Arr – Shin-Osaka
Service - Hikari
Type – 700 Series
STD – 16:16
STA – 16:30

Just your average 15 minute ride between 2 big cities is all. Not much else to report.

Dep – Shin-Osaka
Arr – Shin-Kobe
Service - Kodama
Type – 500 Series
STD – 16:38
STA – 16:52

My first ever ride on a 500 series Shinkansen. They are my favourite by looks alone, with the long, pointed nose, and from what I understand are also the most expensive production Shinkansen made. We were lucky to be placed in the old Green Car, as it is not really required anymore it now just serves as an economy carriage with comfortable seating. It was only a quick 15 minute ride on this train, which is a shame because it is so nice.

We took a Cable Car ride to the top of a mountain here, which is rated the best view in Japan. It has a lovely view of Kobe. Cable Cars and me do not really match, I have no proble flying, but anything like Cable Cars and towers just do not agree with me!

Dep – Shin-Kobe
Arr – Shin-Osaka
Service – Hikari Rail Star
Type – 700 Series 'Railstar'
STD – 19:08
STA – 19:21

My first ride on a RailStar service. The seating is very nice, wide and soft. You can easily fall asleep in a seat like this. The 2x2 arrangement is much better than the 3x2 offered on the Tokaido Shinkansen service between Osaka and Tokyo. Once again only 15 minutes back to Osaka, before a Subway ride back to the hotel.

Dep – Shin-Osaka
Arr – Hiroshima
Service – Hikari Rail Star
Type – 700 Series 'Railstar'
STD – 08:00
STA – 09:32

Am currently writing this onboard the Hikari Rail Star bound for Hakata, although I will alight in Hiroshima. I noticed today that the Un Reserved carriage has the same seating as a normal 700 series Shinkansen, am glad I booked a ticket. Am currently passing through Himeji, where before there was a great view of the ocean and factories, aswell as temples and castles. The only problem with the view is suddenly it all goes pitch black, as the amount of tunnel work on the lines is spectacular. Why go over or around, when you can go straight through! Anywho, That is it for me for this part. Not much happening apart from the view!

And while I am in the hotel after a along day in Hirsohima.

Hiroshima is beautiful. There is no other way to describe it. The wide avenues, tree lined streets and parkland is just amazing. The trams are fun to ride on, and are a flat far of 150Yen within the city. The A Bomb Dome and Peace Museum, aswell as the Children's Memorial is worth a visit and is easy to get to by tram. Volunteer Guides are also around, those which tell the story of themselves and their families at the time when the bomb was dropped. The guides are also trying to improve their English skills, so they will pick out English speaking visitors to talk to, so they can learn while you learn from them. The hotel we stayed at was the Hiroshima Grand Intelligent Hotel. I felt much intelligent the moment I walked through the door.

Dep – Hiroshima
Arr – Hakata - Fukuoka
Service – Hikari Rail Star
Type – 700 Series 'Railstar'
STD – 10:49
STA – 11:59

Not much to report, just another Shinkansen ride. Did not see where you cross between the two islands, either it is under water or it is the size of a river.....

Dep – Hakata
Arr – Shin-Yatsushiro
Service – Relay Tsubame
Type – Unknown
STD – 8:15
STA – 9:51

I Write this after a day in Kagoshima, the southern limit of the Shinkansen network throughout Japan. Kagoshima is a quite city, and is close to a Volcano that smokes constantly named Sakura-jima.

A Werid looking train, the Relay Tsubame is. The train sort of looks like it could be a tank, looks heavy and is painted in a dark grey. This train exists to link Hakata with Shin-Yatsushiro, Hakata being the end of the Sanyo (JR West Shinkansen) and Shin Yatsushiro being the start of the Kyushu Shinkansen to Kagoshima Chuo. This train runs as fast as it can on the line it is given, it rocks around a lot, however passes some beautiful scenery. Along the way I was able to see the new shinkansen line being built between Hakata and Shin-Yatsushiro, and it seems to be coming along very well. In most places, it looked as though it was just the overhead to go, and the stations to be completed. Not really an exciting ride (Apart from finding much Engrish onboard), however upon alighting at Shin-Yatsushiro, I spent the quick minute I had to grab photos, as they only leave a 3 minute connection time between the Relay and Tsubame service.

Dep – Shin-Yatushiro
Arr – Kagoshima Chuo
Service – Tsubame
Type – 800 Series 'Tsubame'
STD – 9:54
STA – 10:33

A Fantastic train. Would have to have the best looking interior, and most comfortable aswell. You sit down in the seats and just sink. The seats are a wood panel base and back, with a very soft pad Velcroed onto it. Arm rest contains a fold out tray table, the window blind looked like it was a bamboo shade, and wood tassels hung from the corridor to the little wash rooms. It is very smart and inviting, the train itself is smooth and has a lot of power (As do all Shinkansen's). Only about a 40 minute ride down to Kagoshima from Shin-Yatsushro.

Upon arrival we made our way down stairs and started walking around the Kagoshima Chuo area. We found an arcade, which was pretty much dead. I stopped by the tram line to grab a few quick photos, before we continued our walk in line with the Volcano. We ended up coming across the tram line again, which had a nice backdrop! Continuing further, we found out the street we were on was named 'Perth Dori Ave', named after our lovely city in Western Australia, and reading further found that Perth is one of the sister cities of Kagoshima. One of the things David had read up on about Kagoshima was that there were few foreign tourists that venture to the city (So kids are generally intrigued by foreign visitors) and that it is a very friendly city. We found both of those out, seeing only one other foreigner (She was waiting for a ferry) in our whole time there, and the school kids saying hello to us when we were passing through the harbour side mall. When we went to lunch we were welcomed in, and our waitress was an older lady who was very happy to have us as her customer. She had a great conversation with David (And after David was talking about our travel plans in fluent Japanese she mentioned 'And you chose our restaurant to eat?' as if she was honoured to have us there) and they even gave us free ice cream courtesy of the Manager. So if anyone is in Kagoshima, it is a Yakiniku restaurant called Nabeshima, down near the port behind Kagoshima Station (Not to be confused with Kagoshima Chuo Station) and has a great view of the Volcano. If you get lost, it is right next to Fuku Fuku. Just a way beyond this there are some fantastic memorials, for the Civil War, the war with the British (The name escapes me now) and to Francis Xavier who landed in Kagoshima. Along with these, there are some nice bridges, and these are very close to the JR Freight depot if you are into Electric Locomotives.

We departed here with time to spare and wandered around the mall at Kagoshima Chuo for a while.

Dep – Kagoshima Chuo
Arr – Shin-Yatsushiro
Service – Tsubame
Type – 800 Series 'Tsubame'
STD – 16:56
STA – 17:31

Not really much to report, just the same lovely train as we got before. Very comfortable, cannot wait until they begin the services right from Fukuoka. When this begins, they will complement the 800 series with N700 series trains from JR West which will run Osaka to Kagoshima (Painted in a different livery to the N700 currently in service). This train was more express, it did not stop at the stations inbetween.

Dep – Shin-Yatushiro
Arr – Hakata
Service – Relay Tsunami
Type – Unknown
STD – 17:34
STA – 19:08

Another bumpy ride on the Relay Tsubame. I purchased a Bento Box while I was on Kagoshima, and enjoyed that on this train ride seeing it was the longer out of the two. Enjoyed a few beats from my iPod and watched as the towns and cities rolled on by. Apart from that, this is where I am at now, Chris and David went out for dinner at a Ramen Restaurant, however I had filled up on a Bento box so I passed and took the opportunity to edited some photos and continue on my report.