Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Once Again, No Time to Report

Headline: We're safe and sound at the south (west) end of Japan. The typhoon appears to be coming ashore in the Tokyo area, and we saw some footage on the news here that looked like Yokohama. Tomorrow we go to Osaka, where we will be for the next three nights. We are hoping that the typhoon will have blown through by the time we're coming through its path next Monday our time and that they destruction won't disrupt rail services so badly as to mess up our trip during that time, especially after having spent all of that money on the sleeper train.

I keep telling myself that someday I'll be able to post all of these photos and write a report about how I spent my day, but with the amount of time I have to spend on more important things like sleeping, eating, and figuring out what trains we have to be on tomorrow to do the things Lisa has mapped out for us, it's just not happening. I don't even have time to pull the photos off the camera.

Today, we took a Kamome express train (limited stops) from Hakata to Nagasaki. This is not a Shinkansen "bullet train" -- the Shinkansen tracks end in Hakata -- but it's decently fast, and we were able to use our Green Card passes to reserve two first class seats. These were row 1, putting us right at the front of the train, which meant we were able to actually look straight through the driver's compartment and out the front of the train, which was pretty cool. The trip takes 1:50 to go about 150 km, for an average speed including the limited stops of about 80 kph or 50 mph, which is not bad for a Japanese standard gauge (3'6"; 1067 mm) train. Indeed, thanks to a relatively generous loading gauge, Japanese standard trains seem about as spacious inside as many British standard (4'8.5"; 1435 mm) trains.

Lisa decided that we should spend the JPY500 for an all-day streetcar pass. Single rides are JPY100, and by buying the pass, we had an incentive to ride lots of times, getting off to look at things and so forth. First we headed for the A-Bomb Museum, where we spent a good chunk of the day. After leaving the museum, we stopped at the Hypocenter of the Nagasaki blast and Lisa completed her "natural hat trick" of visiting the first three atomic bomb sites in sequence.

The rest of the day was spent on a lighter note, mostly riding streetcars. Nagasaki has several lines, but we rode only the 1/3 line. We did, however, stop at the station at the streetcar yard and take lots of pictures that I don't have time to upload here. It was here, however, that I suffered a mishap, walking hard into a bench and rather painfully barking my left knee while hustling to catch a streetcar while simultaneously trying to read the streetcar maps. Reading a schedule wasn't necessary, however, as the cars seemed to be running on headways of only every one or two minutes. There were times when three cars were backed up trying to get into the same station.

The other tourism thing we did was to visit the recreated Dutch Factory (a "factory" is where the "factor" -- trade representative -- lives) on Dejima, an artificial island created to house the factory during the period when Japanese trade with the rest of the world was funneled through this one port.

While walking around this site, I realized that I'd lost my hand towel. Joyce Hooper, this year's Hugo Administrator, had given me a small hand towel with a little rocket on it, and I was so pleased with it that I was planning to carry it with me while touring. We'd been warned that you need to carry a small towel with you here in Japan, and given the heat, it's been very useful. But I've managed to lose it only three days into touring, darn it. We thought I might have dropped it at the tram yard, but it wasn't there when we returned to it. There's a good chance I dropped it on the tram ride from the tram yard down to Dejima. Rats.

We were a bit delayed heading back to Hakata, but secured the same two seats on a Kamome, which of course put us at the very back of the train rather than the first. There were only two other people in the small first class compartment, one of whom was a nice Japanese businessman who offered to take our picture, and who had some English, which, combined with Lisa's Japanese, made for some entertaining conversation for a while.

We arrived Hakata at 21:33, a whole three minutes late. (Fortunately for the JR Kyushu train crew, the typhoon news overshadows the late train.) Lisa seems to be having some difficulty parsing 24-hour time for any reason other than UTC, which means our evenings are running later than they should as she seems to be thinking it's at least one and maybe two hours earlier than it really is.

We've worked out tomorrow's schedule. Our eventual goal is Osaka tomorrow night, but first we are planning to visit the Kyushu Railway History Museum, which appears to be located at Mojiko Station. Our first attempt at creating a rail trip to there from here seemed a bit long -- 1 hour 42 minutes. Then I realized that I wasn't forcing the schedule web site to route us through Kokura on the Shinkansen. Doing that, the trip time shrank from 102 minutes to 50 minutes including an 18-minute connection in Kokura. That's because the Shinkansen from Hakata to Kokura takes only 19 minutes, while the all-stops local train on the "classic" lines takes 75 minutes. (The connection time changes as well.)

After spending some time at this museum, we'll probably take a Hikari Rail Star up to Osaka.
Tags: japan, trains, travel

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