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I almost wasted one day and 10000 yen, but thankfully all ended up well. Let me explain: I used, a reference site about train travel in Japan, to find out the best way to go to Fukuoka. I didn't want to spend too much, so I decided to use only JR (standard) trains and not the shinkansen (bullet train). And it gave me a rather short, yet not too expensive way to get there, which seemed very interesting so I went to the station and bought the ticket: 3h30 until Kanazawa, then a train change and another 30 minutes to Fukuoka. Looked really simple...I couldn't be more wrong...

This morning, I reached Nagoya much earlier than expected. As I had plenty of time, I took out my map to check the itinerary...and I got really surprised! I found out that Kanazawa was located north of Nagoya, while my destination was at the south...I couldn't understand how I could ride a train to the north for 3h30, then not only go back but several hundred miles further to the south in only 30 minutes...and since I had only a few minutes left, I rushed to the ticket office and learned that there were actually two towns called Fukuoka...and of course I was going to go to the wrong one...

I changed my ticket in a hurry and since I didn't have time to consider all possibilities, with my aunt also expecting me to arrive in the afternoon, I bought a ticket for the nozomi, the fastest shinkansen type. It was my first time, and I was quite excited as I was heading toward the shinkansen area:

Here it is :

It looks like a shuttle! And indeed it's very fast, able to reach 186mph, making it one of the world's fastest trains.

More than speed, there are two points that make it remarkable. First, it's extremely comfortable, the seats can be inclined and there is plenty of space to extend one's legs:

Another great feature is its punctuality, even though the traffic is very dense. It's always sharp on time, however this is not specific to the shinkansen but totally part of the Japanese culture. I've been here for 3 months and the first time I saw a train being (only 2 minutes) late was on sunday evening, when I was going to my Christmas party.

And just like many things in Japan, everything is well designed and customer friendly. Look at this picture:

As you can see:

  • the number of the carriage is displayed on the pilar, making it easy to find
  • lines are printed on the platform to show where to queue. The security barriers also allow for easy location of the doors
  • the long yellow stripe is targeted at blind people

The same goes inside, each tablet lists all available services on the train, and a digital display shows the news, weather, stations etc. Also note that all passengers are facing forward:

Upon reaching Fukuoka, I took a bus to my final destination, Hita, where my relatives live, arriving on time!...

Category: Everyday life

5 comment(s)

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By Cyril on 12/28/2006 at 13:53:53

De plus, tous les sièges peuvent pivoter sur eux-même, donc si on voyage à 4, on peut se mettre face à face. Ce qui explique aussi que tous les sièges puissent être dans le sens de la marche quelque soit la direction. Ce qui m'avait aussi frappé, c'était la façon dont le contrôleur se présentait et saluait le wagon avant de passer faire son contrôle.

By Tarto on 12/28/2006 at 14:38:28

Oh, j'avais pas remarque le coup des sieges dans le shinkansen, je croyais que c'etait specifique au JR (j'ai des photos, je vous montre ca bientot). Et je me demandais par quelle logistique ils arrivaient a organiser les sieges...

By Musashi on 12/28/2006 at 17:51:51

c'est vrai qu'il a une superbe allure ce train, plus beau que notre TGV. Par contre nous aussi nous avons le numéro de voiture, l'emplacement, mais pas les barrières, car comme tout le monde le sait, nous sommes disciplinés, et tout se fait sans bousculade... ;O)

By Pierre on 01/03/2007 at 15:01:29

He ben, ca fait rever etre a l'heure au boulot tout les jours ;-)
Signé un usager (pas un client) du train de banlieue Paris Montparnasse-Versailles Chantiers

By loic* on 05/09/2007 at 17:16:49

la vache !! j'avais pas vu ce train de folie, la vitesse max c'est combien ?

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