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Friday, March 25, 2011

TOKYO TO FUKUOKA ON THE SHINKANSEN



I love traveling on the Shinkansen (bullet train).  While the maximum speed is "only" 190 miles/hour (their recent Hayabusa), one of Japan Railway's Maglev trains was tested at 361 MPH.  The Pudong to Shanghai maglev in China is the fastest regular service at 268 MPH.



For visitors to Japan, buy the Rail Pass (at home) in one, two or three week increments.  The Green Car (first class) pass costs about a third more than second class, and for 21 days can be purchased for little less than $1000 today.  My only gripe is that from Tokyo West and back you can't ride the quicker (and more prevalent) Nozomi.  Scheduling is painful if you want to be creative.

It is remarkable that over the 45 years of operation carrying as many passengers as we have people on Planet Earth (7 billion), there has not been a single fatality from a train accident.  Each trip averages out to within 6 seconds of the official arrival time.

I always get a bento and drinks before boarding, and this was my lunch today:


Always sit on the right side going West from Tokyo so that you can photograph Mount Fuji:


The Sun is also on the left.  Here is another shot:


There is a lot of industry in the way.

Anyway, I got to the Hakata Station (Fukuoka) in a little more than six hours after leaving Tokyo.  I noticed that Fukuoka is as cold as Tokyo, but that is understandable, for Fukuoka, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo are pretty much on the same parallel:

I was hoping to see some cherry blossoms, but I think I'm a week or two too early.

Well, good thing I left Tokyo, for back in Fukushima, officials apparently have increased the accident level to 6, which would make this the second worst nuclear disaster next to Chernobyl.  The French have from the beginning been provocative about this cataclysm, for they raised the number to 6 on March 15.


Dengue Fever in Hawaii?  In Pearl City?  Hmmm.....

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