Tag Archives: shinkansen

Primer: Travelling Japan / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Travelling to and Around Okayama, Japan,” “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Japan Ramble Primer

Japan can be intimidating, even for seasoned travellers. You arrive to massive sticker shock, tiny octopi in soup, and 30 kinds of hot canned coffee (which all taste moreorless the same) in ubiquitous vending machines. 

Japan is a long country with 80% mountains – covering several climates, from frosty Hokkaido in the north, to tropical Kyushu giving adventurous folks much opportunity to head to the outer provinces for exploration of the heady scenery of this varied archipelago. With some planning, politeness and persistence, combined with a little zen, you can find big adventures.

Indeed, it is easy to get lost in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka – crowded with skyscrapers and twisted alleys, piled high with screaming neon clubs pumping techno, reggae or karaoke and shops piled with futuristic technological gadgets that won’t make it to North America for another decade – but, far away from the expensive hotels and talking toilets of the huge Pacific metropolis, you may find yourself soaking in alpine hot springs on a starry night, drinking sake with strangers crammed into a mountain hut after a backcountry dinner of rice, seaweed, miso and green tea.

Continue reading Primer: Travelling Japan / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography

Primer: Travelling to and Around Okayama, Japan

A rather rough overview originally compiled in advance of friends coming to Okayama for wedding. Re-purposed in slightly more general terms for logistical convenience as needed.

See also: “Primer: Travelling Japan / places to go, getting around, accomms, culture, etiquette and geography“, “Japanese Culture and Language Primer” and other resources in this archive including video guides. 

Getting to Okayama, Japan

Airport

Best to fly to Kansai (KIX) Osaka airport. This schmancy modern airport is located on a human-made island in the middle of the bay and includes 2 hotels, like 100+ restaurants, post office, an airplane viewing platform and importantly, a train station.

The hotels (the full-service Nikko Hotel & business-single-pod-style First Cabin) are super useful if you arrive exhausted from the long flight (usually about 14 hours from N.A. west coast). A short trip from the airport’s island by shuttle bus brings you to loads of other hotels. This airport village also has loads of shopping for buying treats on your way home.

Of course, the are other airports, specifically Tokyo (massive international hub Narita NRT or sometimes Haneda HND which is usually used for domestic flights) and the new Centrail/Chubu/Nagoya (NGO) airport. While you might save a few dollars on the flight, you’ll have a longer (more expensive) train journey to reach Okayama which is the destination for the shindig.

Fly direct to Okayama (OKJ) via the charmingly convenient and cute Momotaro Airport. If you fly to Haneda or Narita (Tokyo) mentioned above, you can transfer and fly right here.  Sometimes this requires an airport shuttle between Narita (mostly international) and Haneda (more domestic).  There is a bus service from Momotaro to downtown Okayama too.

Note: there is a huge service difference for the long-haul flights from North America. My personal experience is to fly an Asian-based airline, i.e.: Japan (ANA *fave, JAL), Korean (Korean or Asiana), Taiwan (EVA), HK (Cathay Pacific) or Singapore if coming from YVR, SFO, LAX, etc. If coming from other Asian destinations, well you are usually all good. I have experienced much less enjoyment from US-based airlines and China mainland airlines often have low prices but check the reviews and adjust against your comfort levels.

Consider tracking flight options/prices with Skyscanner with a price alert or same with Google Flights and try Hopper (app) to see when best time to “pull the trigger” on purchasing flight. Flying from Vancouver? Check out YVRdeals.

Continue reading Primer: Travelling to and Around Okayama, Japan

Collection: Payphones (vol. 6) – assorted varieties / Japan, etc.

Hello to the people in the future,

What follows are public telephones created in a time when phones did not roam freely and in pockets.

To make a call, one would either enter a specially-created booth (or box), or simply stand close by as the receivers were tethered to the phone unit by a short cord, then insert a variety of coins depending on the location called (local, domestic or international) or in some cases, use a purpose-made phone card, or even a credit card (though doing so often exposed one to fraudulent actors).

Perhaps you have already imagined the unsanitary nature of sharing a phone handset (placed next/close to ear and mouth of course) with strangers – though perhaps this increased “herd immunity” despite being rather unpleasant. Note that oftentimes the coin return slots were checked for forgotten change but the miner was surprised to find discarded chewing gum, or even-less-savoury items, instead.

This gallery is primarily Japan phone – both current working payphones, hotel house phones, house landlines, antique non-working artifacts and one from Indonesia, captured “in the wild”.

note: this one is on a Shinkansen train so one can place a call while traveling 200kmph

Additional volumes of similar collections provide additional examples – both international and domestic (to Canada / USA), as well as additional examples of hotel “house” phones.   Continue reading Collection: Payphones (vol. 6) – assorted varieties / Japan, etc.

Japan Train Tips / Dave + Ryoko 4-20 Kekkon-shiki

A lil video in which i mispronounce various words, stumble through “advice”, share poorly made photos, and in general, provide semi-useful instructions for riding trains – specifically the various Shinkansen “bullet” trains to get from KIX to Okayama for various wedding festivities.

 

Rolling Elsewhere: Osaka to Okayama Japan by train

Just riding the Hikari Shinkansen train from Shin-Osaka to Okayama, Japan, looking out the window. No action, narration, or fanciness… just spacing out a window as various scenes flash past. Brief stops along the way, not necessarily arranged sequentially. 

Japan (Kansai to Okayama) Train Tips

Japan Train Trips

A lil video in which i provide semi-useful instructions for riding trains (specifically from Kansai /KIX airport to Okayama), buying tickets, redeeming JR Rail Pass and getting to platform… as well as mispronounce various words, stumble through “advice”, share poorly-made photos, and in general provide a amusing if not entirely useful primer.

Rolling Elsewhere: Riding Rail from KIX to Joto

Riding the Rails in Japan: Various trains (including shinkansen and futsu-densha) from KIX (Kansai Airport) to Shin-Osaka to Okayama to Zyoto (Joto) – stitched together as-is for your meditative enjoyment.