Last night I stayed in HOKUTOSEI, a cheap train-themed hostel in which most of their furniture is from the old Hokutosei Limited Express trains. Therefore this post will be all about trains!
Hokutosei Limited Express was a very popular sleeping car train that operated between Ueno station in Tokyo and Sapporo station in Hokkaido. It was discontinued in April 2015 to make way for the Hokkaido Shinkansen service, a much faster service than the 16½ hours it took before.
So I decided to experience a trip on the shiny new Shinkansen that replaced the beloved old train car that I was sleeping in the previous night.
But first, navigating my way there…
The train networks in Japan can be pretty overwhelming to a first timer. Tokyo has 882 stations and 102 different rail lines just in the city alone.
Train stations like Shinjuku and Tokyo are vast – imagine four London Victoria Stations each with their own exit on three floors with the human traffic of a London protest squeezed into it. You have to be prepared if you want to find the right train!
However the trains in general are fairly safe, in the past year here I have seen many young children boarding the local trains alone for school.
My travels today are all about speed, and in just over 2 hours I will be in the Sendai, in the north of Japan (that’s fast). Efficient travel comes at a hefty price however – 10,890¥ which covers the cost of a seat on the Tohoku Shinkansen and the basic travel fare.
The trains themselves look like the designers’ last profession was designing for the adult toy industry… However the shape is efficient for helping to decrease wind resistance resulting in a super smooth ride. And it is!
Next stop – Sendai!