So I get up this morning at 5:45 to make sure I’m ready and out the door by 7:00 to walk to the station. I pick up my tasty but smallish (certainly not worth the ¥1,500 I prepaid for breakfast) box lunch and took off. Good sign—it wasn’t raining.
But that turned out to be a big deception…
When I got to the station, everything was in an uproar. Apparently, overnight there was extremely heavy rain and so my train was CANCELLED! And so were the next ones! So much for a smooth trip today. I first ate my meager box lunch so I wouldn’t have to keep carrying it around, then changed my tickets and all the connections to take the 9:19 AM train. When it too was CANCELLED, I changed to the 10:35 train (the next available), put my suitcases in a locker and went to the Internet Cafe to inform Makoto-san that I would be quite late arriving tonight. It was all kind of surreal—I didn’t think they cancelled trains in ultra-efficient Japan. What a hassle. There were even TV news crews there interviewing inconvenienced passengers.
If I were smart, I would have actually sat down and had a real meal at the station before leaving, but I foolishly declined. I did see some of the torrential rain come through in the interim before leaving town.
Of course, the 10:35 train that did leave was late and I barely made my first connection after they had us get off and transfer at an earlier station. The second leg was on the Super Hakucho express which goes through the world’s longest underwater train tunnel under the Tsugaru strait separating Hokkaido from Honshu. It was a fairly impressive (though in reality dark and sort of boring) 35 minute journey in the tunnel itself—100 meters under the seabed which is in turn 140 meters below the water’s surface.
And of course, the Super Hakucho was late arriving at Hachinohe as well, but my luck held and I was able to run down the platform, up the escalator and to my waiting third train (the Shinkansen Hayate 26) with my rail pass in my teeth to show the guard. I made it to my seat with a whole 90 seconds to spare—the Shinkansen waits for no-one!
Of course, I forgot to mention that during this whole ordeal, I’d had nothing to eat except a Melon bread and bottle of green tea I had in my bag from yesterday (and we’re talking 6 hours by this time), so I was starving. Luckily, the Shinkansen had one of the ever charming girls with the food cart so I bought and devoured a box lunch in record time—not even a moment to spare for a photo. It’s 7:15 PM, and I’m still on the Shinkansen for another hour before I get to Tokyo where I’ll call Makoto-san, make my way to Nakano and then undoubtedly CRASH!
I hope I can survive the rest of my trip! I think if I can get myself going in the morning, I may go to Nikko; after all, I only have three days of rail pass left after today…
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…and then the earthquake hit! Wow, what an ending to your day, eh?
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2008 – 07:46 AM