Tag Archives: trains

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

Rolling Elsewhere: Kanazawa to Toyama (Japan)

 

Pleasant ambient countryside views from train window rolling from Tsubata (Ishikawa) to Takaoka-Yabunami (Toyama), Japan. Stops at stations, some announcement, a few coughs.

No narration, story, action – just views and sounds. Also a slick spacey streetcar in Toyama City and a few other treats. 

Rolling Elsewhere: Kurobe Gorge Railway, Toyama (ambient, excerpts)

Rolling Elsewhere: Kurobe Gorge Railway, Toyama / Unazuki to Keyakidaira stations (ambient excerpts) Ambient meditative scenes of riding the narrow gauge railway up Kurobe Gorge, one of the steepest canyons in Japan with spectacular scenery, choogling open air carriages, and hydro-electric dam with medieval style castle (really). Not documentary per se – just as-it-is snippets, stitched loosely to capture the feeling of the trip from Onazuki Onsen station to Keyakidaira (end of the line) station way up in the Japan Alps. Backgrounder: Kurotetu Railways (official) JNTO Magazine Travel Japan Visitor Kurobe Gorge Railway (wikipedia)

The Kurobe Gorge Railway (黒部峡谷鉄道株式会社 Kurobe Kyōkoku Tetsudō Kabushiki Kaisha), or Kurotetsu (黒鉄) for short, is a private, 762 mm (2 ft 6 innarrow gauge railway company operating the Kurobe Gorge Main Line along the Kurobe River in the Kurobe gorge area of Toyama Prefecture, Japan. The railway was built to serve the construction of the Kurobe dam for the Kansai Electric Power Company, which was completed in 1963; Kurotetsu was spun off from the power company in June 1971, but remains a wholly owned subsidiary. At its terminus, the Main Line links to Kurobe Senyō Railway, which is not open to general public.

 

Rolling Elsewhere: Joetsu to Tokamachi, Niigata, Japan (excerpts)

Scenes out the window on a train ride from Joetsu to Tokamachi in Niigata, Japan, including stops at various stations. No narration or whatnot. This is all, roll on pleasantly.

Rolling Elsewhere – Thunderbird Limited Express Train (excerpts), Japan

Just rolling ambient views looking out window at countryside and stations in-situ while aboard the Thunderbird Limited Express train – from Shin-Osaka station toward Kanazawa via Kyoto.

No narration, or whatnot. This is all, roll on pleasantly. 

PS There are more, plenty. 

 

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. 

Disappearing for Invigoration – Postcard #78 via video

Disappearing, invisibility, loneliness, depression, anxiety, being lost, trying to not be found, trying to find white space to invigorate… Sometimes these weave together, other times (perhaps) each remain exclusive.

Gord Downie, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and me all try to figure out the nuance in different ways atop Turkish street music, trains from Kerala and Moncton, and various ephemeral music snippets.

Note: Also available in audio-only via all normal podcast channels and elsewhere in this library.

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.