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Monday, November 24, 2014


I don't know why, but I enjoy train rides.  The faster the better, which in Japan would be the Hayabusa from Aomori to Tokyo and back:  200 MPH.  The first bullet train (Shinkansen) connected Tokyo with Osaka 50 years ago, in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.  This particular leg, is the world's busiest, carrying 151 million passengers/year.  There are 13 trains of 16 cars (1,323 seats) per hour in each direction, allowing only 3 minutes between each flight.

Overall, China (right) recently surpassed Japan with 370 million high speed rail passengers yearly.  However, in that half century period, transporting 10 billion passengers, there NEVER been a passenger fatality caused by a derailment or collision in Japan.  China has already had some problems.   The future?  A maglev train connecting Tokyo and Osaka reaching speeds of 310 MPH, reducing the journey time to one hour.  But maybe in 2045.

I try to schedule my trips just before lunch so I can have a bento with sake or beer or both:

About 50 minutes out of Tokyo Station on the Hikari, there is that memorable view of Mount Fuji:

Arriving in Shin Osaka, you still need to get into town, and the Japan Rail Pass does not work on local subways.  Fortunately, I have a Suica smart card (left) that allows me into just about any train system in Japan.  The Midosuji subway line takes me to the Honmachi stop, which is in the basement of the St. Regis hotel.  Crossing here is also the Chuo line, which will tomorrow be my way to the Osaka Aquarium.

The St. Regis is designed by famed Japanese architectural firm Nikken Sekkei, just one of their projects being the Tokyo Sky Tree.  Opened in 2010, this is one of those hotels that starts on a higher floor and goes to the top.

After a long walk through an indoor mall that begins at my front door, and goes on for around a mile, where I picked up my dinner, I took a bath:

My dinner:

Yes, I bought a raw ham and mascarpone (Italian cheese) Subway, and had it with a Grand Kiren beer and a small bottle of the now available Beaujolais Nouveau:

Not only is the Osaka St. Regis celebrating their 4th anniversary, but the Bloody Mary, which was first concocted at the St. Regis King Cole Bar, is 80 years old.  They have a $57 special in the lobby bar:  from 5PM to 8PM, you can drink all you want, plus enjoy an ala carte dish.  There are 33 different Bloody Marys, and each of the 20 St. Regis hotels around the world have their own special.  I had a coupon for a free Bloody Mary, so went down for one, and pondered, should I try to drink 32 more in the time left.  But, no, I've gotten wiser from my Honolulu to Bangkok flight three years ago, and just had one.  The Osaka version used wasabi.

I'm dining at Hajime (#42 on the Pellagrino World Best, and the temple of a former computer engineer, Hajime Yoneda--I was given permission to take a few photos, a no-no here) tomorrow night, so thought I'd take it easy tonight.    Tomorrow also, the Osaka Aquarium and, possibly, a whale shark???

Oh, I might add that today was a national holiday:  Labor Thanksgiving Day.  Monday was the day of observation.  And no, they don't consume a turkey meal today.  With India, Japan has the most holidays of any country, sixteen.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke an all-time record, up 8 to 17818.


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