Friday, November 4, 2016
Wiping tears at 200 mph
As the date to leave Kyoto grew ever closer we began to reminisce about our first wobbly steps in this jewel of a city. Now 30 days later, we jump on and off buses and local trains like a native, know how to navigate a grocery market, and which vending machines have our favorite drinks.
While at the train station one day we stopped into a travel agency and purchased tickets to Yokohama and the transfer to Zushi. I was so excited, we were traveling by bullet train!!!!
Not wanting to drag our luggage along with us, we had it shipped to our Zushi house. And if you are wondering, yes we did bring an extra suitcase and yes its now filled with gifts and souvenirs.
The hotel gives us a ride to the train station, and we excitedly head to the shinkansen platform.
Due to our extreme excitement at getting to ride this marvel of machinery, we arrived very early. The strangest thing to us is the lack of seating at train stations. There is no place to sit at most train stations, while a few will have at the most seating for 12. Twelve! There are NO! seats on this platform.
While we are standing about numerous shinkansen trains pull into the platform making very little noise, pause and then nearly silently zoom off. I have no idea what this thing-a-ma-bob does, but to us it looks like a giant sized spark plug, doesn't it?
So, we stand around awhile, and then walk down the platform looking into all the snack shops and what they were offering. Greg spies a train station lady selling sushi on the platform from a portable cart and decides to buy a bento of some he has had before and loves. It's a type sold in the Nara area and is wrapped in a salted persimmon leaf. The fish and rice are tasty and finds the leaf adds an interesting addition to the flavor and texture of each bite.
By this time we were a goodly ways down the platform from our cars entrance marker, when a train pulls up. Now when the Japanese train recording says, "This train will make a brief stop in ____." They are NOT kidding!
A shinkansen pulls up, people get off, and we begin to RUN! Car 7, car 6, car 5, car 4! Phew! Finally! Greg jumps on and the doors begin to close before I can get on!!! He jams his arm in the door and it bites him hard, but he won't leave me behind! Finally the train makes a chime and the door opens up and I quickly jump in.
Relieved that we had gotten on the train, and with hearts pumping, we walk down the aisle to find our seats. There is a lady sitting in my seat! Tickets are pulled out, yes, we have the exact same seats! We find a twosome empty seats and are just glad to be on the same train and not separated by hundreds of miles.
Looks like the inside of an airplane doesn't it? Only the seats are 1000% more comfortable and there are acres of leg room.
A nice young train conductor walks by and the lady in our seat stops him and a conversation ensues. He asks to see our tickets, and...... we got on the wrong train. It's headed towards Tokyo, with a few stops, one of which is Yokohama, but we jumped into an earlier train. He stands with a wee train pad and types for a very long while, then writes something upon our tickets and has us follow him to a different car.
The shinkansen's leave every 10 minutes or so, and linger only around 5 minutes tops at the platforms. So, if you find yourself on the platform of a bullet train and one pulls up, make sure that it's your train! And if you miss yours, no worry there's another one right down the track.
We settle into our new seats and I'm excited by the idea we are actually on a bullet train! And then the motion sickness begins to take hold and it takes me quite a long while to get used to the motion of this train. The only thing I can equate it to is being on a boat, the train seems to glide sideways by the tiniest bit, confusing the eyes and the ears. This train goes so fast that its impossible to focus on anything near, because just as you see it, 'tis gone.
Greg remembers he is hungry and lowers his seat tray and sets his Nara sushi out and begins to eat. Suddenly the lady across the aisle jumps up and takes the sushi from his hand! She unwraps the sushi and says, "No! No! No!" And shows him that you don't eat the leaves!!! Before she left she made him pinkie promise not to ever eat the leaves again!
Pulling into Yokohama is only leg one of our trip. Now we need to find the Zushi line and the correct platform, and that is my job. I go up to a station fella, hand him our tickets and he tells us which platform to get onto. We go and stand around, remember the lack of seats?, and finally our train pulls up after a ginormous wait of about 6 minutes. All the trains we have been in have had the station names in both Japanese and English. Some of the trains have a recording of two different women saying the stop and any connections from that station. Zushi is the very last stop on this line and off we get and into a taxi and quick as a wink, we are at our new house for the next few days.
Zushi is a small town on the ocean with a beautiful beach. It is packed to the gills in the summer by tourists from Tokyo wanting to cool off and party at the beach. By November the town's population has shrunk back to the resident population and all is quiet. Its a good place to end our travels with a few day trips from Zushi.
Beautiful metal work on the sidewalk rail, with the beach in the distance.
Shells collected at the beach, with a wee piece of pottery!
A scenic canal