Saturday, February 11, 2012

Summer Holiday in Japan May and June 2010 - Part 3

Welcome to the third section of my summer holiday in Tokyo, Japan in May and June 2010. The topics that will be covered in this section will mainly be the Gotemba Premium Outlets, Narita International Airport, Nikko, and the port city of Kobe near Osaka.


Part 1 ~ Gotemba Premium Outlets


On Tuesday (1 June), we decided to go to the Gotemba Premium Outlets. We woke up at around 9.30 a.m. and had a shower before having our breakfast. At around 10.10 a.m., we then hailed a taxi to Tokyo Station. We arrived at Tokyo Station at around 10.35 a.m. and went to the JR Ticket Office to purchase our Shinkansen tickets to Mishima. We would then transfer to a local train between Mishima and Gotemba via Numazu on the JR Tokaido and Gotemba Lines.


Tokyo Station is a railway station located in the Marunouchi business district of Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is the main intercity rail terminal in Tokyo and the busiest station in Japan in terms of no. of trains per day (at least 3,000). A majority of the high-speed Shinkansen services in Japan start and terminate here.


The special ward of Chiyoda-ku near Tokyo Station

The Shinkansen ticketing concourse of Tokyo Station

The train departure signboard for "NOZOMI" and "HIKARI" trains in the Tokaido Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station

The departure information screen in the Tokaido Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station


The Tokaido Shinkansen is a shinkansen line linking the two major cities of Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. Opened on October 1, 1964, it is Japan's first and oldest Shinkansen line to be in service. With a ridership of approximately 4.9 billion passengers per year, it is the most heavily travelled high-speed rail line in the world.


Since March 2010, there are currently three rolling stocks used on the line; the 300 series (until 16 March 2012), 700 series, and N700 series. Three services also operate on the line, which are mainly (from fastest to slowest) the NOZOMI, HIKARI, and KODAMA. Majority of the NOZOMI and HIKARI trains offer through service to the Sanyo Shinkansen, as far as to Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka in Kyushu.


After purchasing some food and beverages from a kiosk located in the Tokaido Shinkansen concourse, we went to track No. 16 to catch the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 469 bound for Okayama to go to Mishima, scheduled to depart at 11.03 a.m.. We saw that this train was operated by a JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B15. Here are a few pictures while waiting for boarding.


The logo of the N700 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 105 bound for Hiroshima

The LED destination panel of the N700 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 105 bound for Hiroshima

Tracks No. 16 and 17 of the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the JR West 700 Series Shinkansen 'B' set, showing Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 469 bound for Okayama

HIKARI is one of the services operating on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. It mainly uses 300 series (until 16 March 2012), 700 series, and N700 series trains as its main rolling stock. Slower than the NOZOMI but faster than the KODAMA, the HIKARI is the fastest train service on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen that is covered under the Japan Rail Pass.

The HIKARI Rail Star is another HIKARI service that operates only on the Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka). This special service uses 8-car 700 Series Shinkansen trainsets, painted just like the 500 Series Shinkansen, but with a sunny yellow stripe below the black stripe over the windows, and "Rail Star" logos applied on various sides of the trains. Green Car (first class) accommodation is not available on this service. However, the reserved seating cars feature 2+2 seating and also some 4-seat compartments instead of the standard 3+2 arrangement in non-reserved seating cars. The HIKARI Rail Star is designed to provide better competition against domestic flight routes between Osaka and Fukuoka.

However, since 12 March 2011, HIKARI Rail Star services are gradually being replaced with new SAKURA services between Osaka and Kagoshima on the Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines, using new special 8-car N700 series trains.

As of 2010, HIKARI services operating on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines use 16-car 300 series and 700 series trains. However, from the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, 16-car 700 series and N700 series trains will be used on these services, following the retirement of the 300 series trains. Many of these services pull over at intermediate stations such as Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Maibara, and Himeji to allow faster NOZOMI services to pass through without stopping.

From the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, HIKARI Rail Star services operated by the special 8-car 700 series trains will be entirely non-smoking. Also, all 100 series and 300 series trains will be decommissioned at the same time.


At around 10.55 a.m., we were permitted to board the train. We took the Green Car seat Nos. 15C, 15D, 16C and 16D respectively. I sat at the window seat 15D, and was beside my brother, who was in 15C, throughout the journey. Here are some pictures.


The Green Car cabin of a JR West 700 Series Shinkansen 'B' set during boarding at Tokyo Station

A pair of Green Car (first class) seats on a JR West 700 Series Shinkansen 'B' set during boarding at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 700 Series Shinkansen


After waiting for approximately a few minutes, we finally pulled out of Tokyo Station at exactly 11.03 a.m. from Track No. 16. Here are some pictures and videos taken along the short 44-minute journey to Mishima. They will explain the journey between Tokyo and Mishima.


700系新幹線 B15編成 ひかり469号 岡山行き 東京駅から発車とグリーン車


Entering Shinagawa Station

The Green Car cabin during boarding at Shinagawa

A beef and rice lunch box (bento) purchased from Tokyo's station kiosk

At Shin-yokohama Station

700系新幹線 B15編成 ひかり469号 岡山行き 車窓から小田原駅を通過

Passing through Atami Station on the way to Mishima

The Green Car (first class) seating on a JR West 700 Series Shinkansen 'B' set

The Green Car cabin of the JR West 700 Series Shinkansen 'B' set


After 44 minutes of travelling from Tokyo Station, we finally arrived at Mishima Station at 11.47 a.m. on Track No. 5. Upon alighting the train, I then filmed a video of the train's departure and took a picture of the Shinkansen platform.


700系新幹線 B15編成 ひかり469号 岡山行き 三島駅から出発


The Tokaido Shinkansen platforms of Mishima Station


Mishima Station is the main railway station serving the city of Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan. It serves as an interchange station for the Tokaido Shinkansen, the Tokaido Main Line, and the Izuhakone Railway Sunzu Line.


After taking the picture and video, we went along a secret passageway that linked between the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms and the Tokaido Main Line platforms. We then caught a JR Tokaido Line local train between Mishima and Numazu, which would leave Mishima at 12 noon.


The passageway that links between the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms and the Tokaido Main Line platforms

The Tokaido Main Line platforms of Mishima Station

The interior of the local train we took between Mishima and Numazu


Numazu Station is the main railway station serving the city of Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan. It is an interchange station for the Gotemba Line and the Tokaido Main Line. It is the western terminus for the JR Gotemba Line.


The limited express Asagiri links between Shinjuku and Numazu 4 times daily. It uses mainly 2 Odakyu 20000 series RSE EMUs and 1 JR Central 371 series EMU. The Asagiri service is operated by both JR Central and Odakyu Electric Railway. It is arguably confusing whether this train can be used with the Japan Rail Pass, as the sector between Shinjuku and Matsuda is operated by the private Odakyu Electric Railway Odawara Line. Making reservations for this train can be especially difficult.


From the start of the revised timetable on March 17, 2012, the Odakyu 20000 series EMUs and the lone 371 series EMU are scheduled to be withdrawn from these services, and replaced by 6-car Odakyu 60000 series MSE EMUs, operating 3 times daily, and 4 times on weekends. All services will be truncated to operate between Shinjuku and Gotemba.


After we arrived at Numazu Station at 12.07 p.m., we transferred to a local train via the JR Gotemba Line to reach our destination. We then left Numazu Station at around 12.20 p.m.. Here are some pictures that will explain the sector between Numazu and Gotemba.


The JR Gotemba Line platforms of Numazu Station

The interior of the local train which we took between Numazu and Gotemba

The name plate of Numazu Station

A panoramic view taken from the JR Gotemba Line local train

Passing by some houses and paddy fields on the JR Gotemba Line


After travelling from Numazu Station for 33 minutes, we finally arrived at Gotemba at 12.53 p.m.. We then went to a nearby taxi stand to take a taxi to the Gotemba Premium Outlets at around 1 o' clock.


Gotemba Station is the main railway station serving the city of Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan. It is located along the Gotemba Line operated by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central). All JR Gotemba Line trains and the limited express Asagiri between Shinjuku and Numazu via the Odakyu Electric Railway Odawara Line make stop here. However, from March 17, 2012, all Asagiri limited express services will start and terminate here.


The station platform towards Kozu Station of Gotemba Station

The JR Gotemba Line railway tracks that lead to and from the station

One of the areas outside Gotemba Station


After approximately 15 minutes of travelling on the taxi, we arrived at the Gotemba Premium Outlets just before 1.15 p.m.. These are some pictures that will explain our day at the Gotemba Premium Outlets.


The logo of the Gotemba Premium Outlets

One of the areas beside the entrance to the Gotemba Premium Outlets

A forest of trees with the Gotemba Premium Outlet ferris wheel in the background

The Gotemba Premium Outlets footbridge leading to another area of the outlet mall

The restaurant and cafeteria area in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

The fountain located in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

Some mini trees in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

The Gotemba Premium Outlets ferris wheel

The mini trees and a lineup of retail shops in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

Just after shopping for some items

A lineup of retail shops in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

More retail shops during the exploration at the Gotemba Premium Outlets

Passing by many more retail shops in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

A small stream as seen from the footbridge of the Gotemba Premium Outlets

A children's playground in the Gotemba Premium Outlets

Just before leaving the Gotemba Premium Outlets


After spending a few hours at the Gotemba Premium Outlets, we hailed a taxi back to Gotemba Station at around 5 p.m.. The journey back to Gotemba Station took approximately 10 to 15 minutes. We then took a direct JR Gotemba Line local train, which would leave Gotemba at 5.21 p.m. between Gotemba and Mishima via Numazu. The journey between Gotemba and Mishima took approximately 46 minutes, with a changeover of direction at Numazu. These are some pictures that will explain the journey between Gotemba and Mishima.


The interior of the 313 series EMU local train bound for Mishima via Numazu

The name plate of Gotemba Station

The station platform towards Kozu of Gotemba Station, as seen from the 313 series EMU local train bound for Mishima via Numazu

Passing through some rice paddy fields on the JR Gotemba Line

At Iwanami Station

At Susono Station, with an Odakyu 20000 series RSE "Romancecar" EMU set, operating on the Limited Express "Asagiri" No. 8 bound for Odakyu Shinjuku

At Numazu Station while waiting for the train to change direction towards Mishima

On the way to Mishima shortly after departing Numazu

Passing by a construction area in Numazu

The Tokaido Main Line platform of Mishima Station shortly after arrival


After 46 minutes of travelling on the direct local train on the JR Gotemba and Tokaido Lines, we finally arrived at Mishima Station at 6.07 p.m.. My mum proceeded to the JR Ticket Office to purchase our Green Car Shinkansen tickets back to Tokyo. According to my mum, we would be taking the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 482 back to Tokyo, which would leave Mishima at 7.55 p.m..


We then found a restaurant called Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant (Mishima Station Branch) to have our dinner break before heading back to Tokyo. Here are some things which we ate for dinner while at the Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant (Mishima Station Branch).


A lineup of sashimi meats at the counter table in the Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant

Another lineup of sashimi meats at the counter table in the Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant

The interior of the Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant (Mishima Station Branch)

A sashimi sushi set platter

Two set platters of anago aburi sushi

Another sashimi sushi set platter

And another sashimi sushi set platter

A plate of grilled chicken breast

Another plate of grilled chicken breast

Outside Mishima Station

The signboard of Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant Mishima Station just above the entrance to the restaurant

Some anago (salt-water eels) swimming in a tank outside the restaurant

The signboard of Numazu Uogashizushi Restaurant Mishima Station just beside the entrance to the restaurant


After finishing our dinner and paying the bill, we went up to the Tokaido Shinkansen platform No. 6 at around 7.30 p.m. for our final sector back to Tokyo. While waiting for the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 482 bound for Tokyo, here are some pictures and a video.


The train departure information board located in the Tokaido Shinkansen concourse

The Tokaido Shinkansen station platform of Mishima Station at night

The train departure information board located on the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms of Mishima Station

A 700 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 250 service bound for Tokyo passing through Mishima Station

700系新幹線 C2編成 こだま674号 東京行き 三島駅に入線


The LED destination panel of the JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen trainset showing Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 674 bound for Tokyo

The 700 Series Shinkansen trainset operating on the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 674 bound for Tokyo on Track No. 6 of Mishima Station

The LED destination panel of a JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 485 service bound for Okayama

The Mishima Station platform on the Tokaido Shinkansen filled with two 700 Series Shinkansen trainsets

The train departure information board located on Track No. 6 of the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms


After waiting for approximately 24 minutes, the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 482 bound for Tokyo, finally entered Mishima Station at 7.54 p.m.. The service was operated by a 300 Series Shinkansen train owned by JR Central. We then boarded the train and settled into our assigned Green Car seats No. 6C, 6D, 7C, and 7D respectively. We then pulled out of Mishima Station at exactly 7.55 p.m. for a 45-minute train ride back to Tokyo. Here are some pictures and a video which will explain the final sector between Mishima and Tokyo.


The LED destination panel of the 300 Series Shinkansen train, showing the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 482 bound for Tokyo

The Green Car cabin of the JR Central 300 Series Shinkansen train, operating on the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 482 bound for Tokyo

A pair of Green Car seats of the JR Central 300 Series Shinkansen train, operating on the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 482 bound for Tokyo

A view of my seat, 6D, on the way back to Tokyo from Mishima

Passing through Atami Station on the way back to Tokyo from Mishima

Passing through Odawara Station and overtaking a 700 Series Shinkansen train operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 674 bound for Tokyo

300系新幹線 ひかり482号 東京行き 車窓から新横浜駅に到着


The Shinkansen name plate of Shin-yokohama Station

The Tokaido Shinkansen platforms towards Tokyo of Shin-yokohama Station, as seen from the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 482 bound for Tokyo

The Tokaido Shinkansen platforms towards Tokyo of Shinagawa Station, with a 700 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 687 bound for Nagoya


After 45 minutes of travel from Mishima, we finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.40 p.m. on Track No. 17, just as scheduled. My parents then permitted me to take a view of the Tohoku Shinkansen trains and platforms. These are some pictures and a video.


Tokaido Shinkansen Tracks No. 16 and 17 of Tokyo Station at night

An E2 Series Shinkansen train joined with an E3 Series Shinkansen train, about to depart as Shinkansen "NASUNO" Superexpress No. 273 bound for Nasu-shiobara

E2系とE3系新幹線 なすの273号 那須塩原行き 東京駅から出発


The train departure information board located on the Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen platforms of Tokyo Station

The Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen platforms of Tokyo Station at night


After checking out the Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen platforms, we decided to hail a taxi back to the Somerset Serviced Apartments Roppongi Tokyo. It was a tiring but an exciting day for us. We headed to bed just before 2 a.m. in the morning.


Part 2 ~ Narita International Airport


The next day, which was a Wednesday (2 June), we woke at around close to 12 noon. We then had a shower, and headed to Outback Steakhouse Roppongi Tokyo for lunch. I planned to try out the Narita Express limited express train to Narita International Airport on this day. These are some food items which we ate while having lunch at Outback Steakhouse Roppongi Tokyo.


The steak promotion banner outside the Outback Steakhouse Roppongi Tokyo

The lunch menu of Outback Steakhouse Roppongi Tokyo

The interior of Outback Steakhouse Roppongi Tokyo

A small bowl of soup

My brother's fish 'n' chips

A plate of Nachos

My main course: Porterhouse strip and fillet tenderloin with french fries

My Outback dessert: Chocolate Thunder From Down Under


After having a hearty lunch at the Outback Steakhouse Roppongi Tokyo, we walked over to Roppongi Station at 3 o' clock to take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya and Marunouchi Lines to Tokyo Station via a change at Kasumigaseki.


The Tokyo Metro Route Map

The Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line platforms of Roppongi Station

The Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line platforms of Kasumigaseki Station

The Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line platforms of Kasumigaseki Station

The Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line interior

The Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line platforms of Tokyo Station


As soon as we arrived at Tokyo Station at 3.34 p.m., we went to a nearby JR Ticket Office to purchase my Narita Express Green Car tickets to NRT and back. Between Tokyo and NRT, I was booked on the Limited Express Narita Express No. 39 bound for NRT, in Green Car seat No. 4D in Car No. 6, leaving Tokyo at 4.03 p.m.. For the return, I was booked on the Limited Express Narita Express No. 44 bound for Ikebukuro and Ofuna, in Green Car seat No. 3A of Car No. 12. I was excited as this would be my first ride on the Narita Express train.


The Narita Express is a dedicated limited express train that links between Narita International Airport and the Greater Tokyo area. It is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). Services are half-hourly in the mornings and evenings, and hourly in the daylight hours. The main competitor for the Narita Express is the Keisei Skyliner, which is operated by Keisei Electric Railway. There is no charge for tourists using the Narita Express with a Japan Rail Pass. All seats on the Narita Express train are reserved and non-smoking.


The service currently uses 22 6-car E259 series EMUs as its main rolling stock. 253 series EMUs were also used between March 19, 1991 and June 30, 2010. In February 2008, JR East announced the new E259 series EMUs to replace the ageing fleet of 253 series EMUs. The first 9 E259 series trainsets entered service on October 1, 2009, on 10 out of the 26 Narita Express return workings.

On June 30, 2010, the 253 series EMUs were completely replaced on Narita Express services by the new E259 series EMUs. Following their retirement from Narita Express services, most of the trains were withdrawn. Two 3-car sets were sold to the Nagano Electric Railway, and two 6-car sets (Ne201 and Ne202), underwent a major refurbishment programme to become the 253-1000 series sets No. OM-N1 and OM-N2. They are now used on Nikko and Kinugawa limited express services jointly operated with Tobu Railway since June 4, 2011, replacing the 485 series and 189 series EMUs.


There are some differences between the 253 series and the E259 series EMUs. On the older generation of Narita Express trains, which are the 253 series EMUs, there were Green private compartments available on certain trains. However, these were phased out in late June 2010, as the newer E259 series EMUs do not feature Green private compartments.


All Narita Express services were suspended following the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific Ocean tsunami in 2011. They were partially restored on April 4, 2011. All the pre-earthquake and tsunami Narita Express services and timetable were finally reinstated on September 3, 2011.


I then went to the Sobu Main Line underground platforms for my train to NRT. Here are some pictures which I took while waiting for my train.


The Sobu Main Line concourse of Tokyo Station

The train departure information board located in the Sobu Main Line underground concourse

The boarding car no. details of the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 39 bound for Narita International Airport

The Sobu Main Line underground platforms of Tokyo Station

The first 6 cars (Cars No. 7 to 12) of the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 39 bound for NRT


At 3.58 p.m., the last 6 cars (Cars No. 1 to 6) of the Limited Express Narita Express No. 39 bound for Narita International Airport finally arrived at Tokyo Station. Cars No. 1 to 6 would be coupled to Cars No. 7 to 12 at Tokyo Station, making the service a 12-car formation between Tokyo and Narita International Airport.


As soon as the train doors were opened, I boarded Green Car No. 6 of the train and settled into my assigned seat No. 6D for the 55-minute journey to Narita International Airport. We finally pulled out of Tokyo Station at 4.03 p.m., just as planned. Here are some pictures and a video that will explain the sector between Tokyo and Narita International Airport.


My E259 series train, which would take me to NRT as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 39 at Tokyo Station, about to be coupled to Cars No. 7 through 12

The LED destination panel of the E259 series EMU, showing the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 39 bound for Narita International Airport

The front view of the Green Car cabin of the E259 series Narita Express train to NRT

A pair of Green Car seats of the E259 series Narita Express train to NRT

The passenger information display unit in the Narita Express train, showing that we are at Tokyo Station in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean

E259系 成田エクスプレス39号 成田国際空港行き 東京 (発車) ~ 馬喰町 (通過) 


The passenger information display unit in the Narita Express train, showing which airline operates from which terminal at NRT

Crossing a bridge on the Narita Express train on the JR Sobu Main Line

The cover page of the E259 series Narita Express information card

My Narita Express Green Car train ticket between Tokyo and NRT

The Green Car tray table of the E259 series EMU Narita Express train

Passing through a JR Sobu Main Line railway station

The rear view of the Green Car cabin of the E259 series Narita Express train to NRT

The massive lavatory in the E259 series train

The configuration of the inner pages of the E259 series Narita Express information card

Passing through some rice paddy fields on the way to NRT

Passing through more rice paddy fields on the way to NRT

The view of the E259 series Green Car cabin, as seen from my seat

Airport Terminal 2 Station as seen from the Narita Express train


After a short 54-minute train ride on the Limited Express Narita Express No. 39 from downtown Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Narita Airport (Terminal 1) terminal station at 4.57 p.m., as scheduled on Track No. 1. I then took all my possessions with me and alighted the train. Here are some pictures.


The front view of the Green Car cabin of the E259 series Narita Express train after arrival at NRT

The LED destination panel of the E259 series train, showing the Limited Express "Narita" Express No. 40 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area

The coupling of the two gangway cars of the E259 series trains

The logo of the Narita Express train, as seen on the E259 series trains

The JR line platforms of Narita Airport Station

The E259 series EMU train, which took me to NRT earlier

The JR line and Keisei Line platforms of Narita Airport Station

The JR line name plate of Narita Airport Station


After taking some pictures, I suddenly realised that I had only 1 hour 10 minutes before my next Narita Express train back to Tokyo. I went through the security area, and into the Terminal 1 South Wing. Here are some pictures while exploring NRT.


The JR line station concourse of Narita Airport Station

The domestic departures area of Narita International Airport Terminal 1

The international departures and check-in area of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 South Wing


The South Wing of Terminal 1 at Narita International Airport is currently dominated by Star Alliance carriers. Air New Zealand moved here from Terminal 2 on 25 March 2012 to help the carrier ease connections with other Star Alliance carriers. The following airlines (as of 1 January 2012), which are not part of Star Alliance, operating from this terminal are:

1) Etihad Airways


2) EVA Airways (soon to join Star Alliance in 2013)


3) MIAT- Mongolian Airlines


4) Qatar Airways (future Oneworld member)*


5) Uzbekistan Airways


6) Vladivostok Air


*Qatar Airways may shift its operations from Terminal 1 (South Wing) to Terminal 2, as the airline prepares to join Oneworld between 2013 and 2014, and to ease connections with fellow Oneworld carriers.


As soon as I was in the international departure area of the South Wing of Terminal 1, I went to a well-known hobby shop located near the international departure and check-in area. While at NRT, I also purchased a plane model:


1) ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-481 ANA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (NH 50054)



ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-481 ANA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (NH 50054)

The Airplane Museum Shop located in Terminal 1 South of NRT

The passageway that links Terminal 1 to Narita Airport Railway Station


After spending some quick minutes of shopping, I decided to head back to Narita Airport Station at around 5.40 p.m.. This would ensure that I would have plenty of time for the Limited Express Narita Express No. 44 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area. Here are some pictures which I took while waiting, including some pictures of the Limited Express Narita Express No. 42 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area, operated by the older 253 series.


The JR line station entrance of Narita Airport Station

The LED destination panel of the 253 series train, showing the Limited Express "Narita" Express No. 42 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area

Two 253 series EMU trains coupled together, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 42 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area

The overview of the JR line platforms of Narita Airport (Terminal 1) Station

The Green Car seats on the 253 series train

The logo of the Narita Express train, as seen on the 253 series trains

The boarding car no. details of the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 44 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area


At 5.57 p.m., two E259 series trainsets entered Narita Airport Station as the Limited Express Narita Express No. 43. The train was to become the Limited Express Narita Express No. 44 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area. Here are some pictures I took while waiting for boarding.


The Narita Express train logo on the E259 series EMU train

Another view of the JR line platforms of Narita Airport Station

Another view of the JR line and Keisei Line platforms of Narita Airport Station


At 6.05 p.m., we were allowed to board the train. I entered through Car No. 11 to get a clearer view of the front of the Green Car cabin. I then settled into my assigned seat No. 3A for the 1-hour journey back to Tokyo from NRT. Here are some pictures while waiting for departure.


The front view of the Green Car cabin of the E259 series Narita Express train to the Greater Tokyo Area

A pair of Green Car seats of the E259 series Narita Express train to the Greater Tokyo Area

Another picture of the front view of the Green Car cabin of the E259 series Narita Express train to the Greater Tokyo Area


At exactly 6.15 p.m., the Limited Express Narita Express No. 40 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area pulled out of Narita Airport Station for a 1-hour journey to Tokyo. These are some pictures and a video that will explain my return journey to Tokyo from Narita International Airport.


E259系 成田エクスプレス44号 首都圏行き 成田空港駅から空港第2ビル駅間 


My Narita Express Green Car train ticket between NRT and Tokyo

ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-481 ANA Official Precision Model Scale 1:500 (NH 50054)

The view of the E259 series Green Car cabin, as seen from my seat

Passing through Narita Station on the way to Tokyo

Passing through a JR Sobu Line station on the way back to Tokyo

A view of my seat, 3A, during the journey to Tokyo

Crossing a river bridge during nightfall in Tokyo

The Green Car cabin of the E259 series Narita Express train while getting closer to Tokyo

After a travel time of 1 hour 02 minutes from NRT on the Limited Express Narita Express No. 44 bound for the Greater Tokyo Area, I finally arrived back at Tokyo Station at 7.17 p.m., as planned. Here are some pictures I took after arrival at Tokyo Station.



The Sobu Main Line underground platforms of Tokyo Station towards Shimbashi and Shinagawa

The E259 series Narita Express train logo

The Green Car (first class) logo on the E259 series Narita Express train

The E259 series Narita Express train which took me back to Tokyo from NRT earlier

The JR Yamanote Line platforms of Tokyo Station


I contacted my dad to tell him that I arrived at Tokyo Station. My dad then replied to me that he, along with my mum and brother, were shopping in Akihabara. He told me that I should meet up with them near Akihabara Station, as we were going to have dinner at a Japanese barbecue (Yakiniku) restaurant called Niku no Mansei Akihabara.


As soon as he gave me instructions, I went up to the JR Yamanote Line platforms to take the JR Yamanote Line between Tokyo and Akihabara. As soon as I reached Akihabara Station at 7.30 p.m., I met my dad, who was waiting for me outside the entrance to the station. We met my mum and brother and walked over to Niku no Mansei Akihabara.


A lineup of electronic gadget shops beside Akihabara Station

The Akihabara street at night

The Niku no Mansei restaurant building in Akihabara

Akihabara road bridge at night

A canal at night in Akihabara

The logo of Niku no Mansei Akihabara

The restaurant level information of Niku no Mansei Akihabara


As soon as we reached the restaurant building, we took a close look at the restaurant floor information. We decided to go to the barbecue (yakiniku) restaurant, which was located on the fifth floor. We then took the elevator to the fifth floor and asked a restaurant attendant for a non-smoking table. At the Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara, we had a lot of grilled meat dishes. These are some pictures which will explain our dinner at the Niku no Mansei Yakiniku Restaurant Akihabara.


The logo of Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara

The food menu of Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara

The yakiniku meat griller in Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara

My parents posing for a photograph at Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara

My brother and I posing for a photograph at Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara

A set platter of various beef rib cuts

A small plate of beef large intestine

Some pieces of beef karubi and a few pieces of green chilli being grilled

Some pieces of beef karubi being grilled

Some pieces of beef karubi and beef large intestine being grilled

The second plate of beef large intestine

Some more pieces of beef karubi and beef large intestine being grilled

Four pieces of beef karubi being grilled

A plate of pork intestine

The third plate of beef large intestine

Slightly more pieces of beef karubi and beef large intestine being grilled

Some pieces of beef intestine and pork intestine being grilled

A plate of beef tongue

Some pieces of beef karubi and beef tongue being grilled

More pieces of meat and vegetables being grilled

More pieces of meat being grilled

And more pieces of meat and vegetables being grilled

Even more pieces of meat, including beef karubi and chicken, being grilled

More pieces of chicken being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Five pieces of beef karubi and intestines being grilled on the barbecue griller

The interior of the Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara

One of the passageways in Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara that leads to the non-smoking tables

The passageway in Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara that leads to the non-smoking tables

The last pieces of beef karubi and intestine being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller


After having a sumptuous barbecue dinner feast at the Mansei Bokujo Yakiniku Restaurant at Niku no Mansei Restaurant Tower Akihabara, we went to the counter to pay our bill, and walked over to Akihabara Station. We then took the JR Yamanote Line between Akihabara and Ebisu.


The Niku no Mansei building and the walkway in Akihabara at night

The entrance to Labi Akihabara electronic gadgets shop


The JR Yamanote Line platforms of Akihabara Station

The interior of the JR Yamanote Line train

It was around 10.20 p.m. by the time we arrived at Ebisu Station. We then went to the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to get back to the Somerset Serviced Apartments Roppongi Tokyo. As soon as we purchased our tickets, we took the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line back to our apartment in Roppongi.



The JR Yamanote Line platforms of Ebisu Station

The Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Ebisu Station entrance

The sign of Ebisu Station for the JR lines

The Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line ticket barriers of Ebisu Station

The Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line platforms of Ebisu Station

The station name plate of the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Ebisu Station


By the time we arrived back at the Somerset Serviced Apartments Roppongi Tokyo, it was already close to 11 o' clock. We went back to our room and had a shower before toddling off to bed. We knew that we had to sleep early as we would be going on a day's trip to Nikko the next day.


All in all, I enjoyed myself on the Narita Express limited express train on that day. The train was very quiet and the seats were pretty comfortable. However, I still wish that I could take a ride on the Narita Express train to and from Shinjuku instead of Tokyo. A journey between Shinjuku and Narita International Airport would give a longer and a more enjoyable ride experience on that train.


Part 3 ~ Nikko


The next morning, which was a Thursday (3 June), we woke up at around 10 a.m. to get ready for the day trip to Nikko. We then had breakfast after having a shower, and packed all of our necessary items for the day in Nikko.


As soon as we were ready, we hailed a taxi to Tokyo Station at 11.45 a.m., arriving at Tokyo Station at around 12.05 p.m.. Our itinerary for the day would be to take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya from Tokyo, and change to the JR Nikko Line between Utsunomiya and Nikko.


We then went to the Shinkansen ticket office to purchase our Green Car tickets to Nikko. At the ticket office, my mum booked all 4 of us on the Shinkansen YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 53 bound for Morioka for the sector between Tokyo and Utsunomiya. I was very excited as this would be our first time riding on the Tohoku Shinkansen.


The Tohoku Shinkansen is a Japanese high-speed Shinkansen line, linking Tokyo and Aomori in Aomori Prefecture, operating by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It has a distance of 674 kilometers, making it the longest Shinkansen line in Japan. It mainly runs through the more sparsely populated Tohoku region of Japan's main island, Honshu. It also has two spur lines, the Yamagata Shinkansen and the Akita Shinkansen.


This shinkansen line was greatly affected by the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific Ocean tsunami on the fateful afternoon of March 11, 2011. As a result, train services running on the Tohoku Shinkansen were suspended. JR East estimated that approximately 1,100 repairs would be required for the sector between Omiya and Iwate-numakunai, ranging from collapsed station roofs to bent power pylons.


Limited train services were restored on the line in segments: Tokyo and Nasu-shiobara was re-opened on March 15, and Morioka and Shin-aomori on March 22. The line between Ichinoseki and Morioka was re-opened on April 7, Nasu-shiobara and Fukushima on April 12. Direct train services between Tokyo and Shin-aomori was resumed on April 29, but at lower speeds due to ongoing restoration work. The pre-earthquake and tsunami timetable was finally reinstated on September 23, 2011.


When we first rode on the Tohoku Shinkansen, the line linked Tokyo and Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture. The section between Hachinohe and Shin-aomori was still not opened until early December 2010 at that time.


While my parents and brother went to purchase some food and beverages, I went up to Track No. 22 for the Shinkansen YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 53 bound for Morioka for the first sector between Tokyo and Utsunomiya.


The YAMABIKO is a train service operated on the Tohoku Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Sendai / Morioka. It is operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) in Japan, and is the third fastest service along the Tohoku Shinkansen, after the HAYABUSA and the HAYATE services. The service mainly stops along the stretch between Tokyo and Sendai, and at every station between Sendai and Morioka.


This service currently uses E2 series, E3 series, E4 series (Max YAMABIKO), and E5 series trains. Many Max YAMABIKO services, operated by E4 series trains, are often coupled to the Yamagata Shinkansen TSUBASA services, operated by 7-car E3 series trains, between Tokyo and Fukushima.


YAMABIKO services using E5 series trainsets feature a special car called "Gran Class", a premium cabin service first introduced in March 2011. You should bear in mind that the Japan Rail Pass only covers the basic fare for ordinary cars and Green Cars. If you have plans to use a Tohoku Shinkansen service that is operated by an E5 series train, "Gran Class" is available. However, if you have a JR Pass (Green-type or ordinary-type) and plan to use a "Gran Class" seat, you must pay the Shinkansen express charge, in addition to the "Gran Class" charge.


The interior of the Shinkansen ticketing office in Tokyo Station

The train departure signboard for the Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen trains in the Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station

The signboard to the Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen tracks in the Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station

The Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station


As soon as I was on Track No. 22, an E2 Series Shinkansen 'J' trainset, which would become the Shinkansen YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 53 bound for Morioka, entered Tokyo Station at 12.27 p.m.. I then boarded the Green Car carriage No. 9 and went to my assigned seat No. 6D for the short 49-minute journey to Utsunomiya. I also took some pictures while waiting for my parents to board the train.


The E2 Series Shinkansen, which would become the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 53 bound for Morioka, entering Tokyo Station on Track No. 22

The logo for E2 Series Shinkansen trainsets used on "HAYATE", "YAMABIKO", and "NASUNO" services on the Tohoku Shinkansen line

The front view of the Green Car cabin of the E2 Series Shinkansen train to Morioka during boarding at Tokyo Station

Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen Tracks No. 22 and 23 of Tokyo Station

The Green Car logo of the E2 Series Shinkansen train

The LED destination panel of the E2 Series Shinkansen train, showing the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 53 bound for Morioka

Another front view of the Green Car cabin of the E2 Series Shinkansen train to Morioka during boarding at Tokyo Station

A pair of Green Car seats of the E2 Series Shinkansen train to Morioka during boarding at Tokyo Station

The rear view of the Green Car cabin of the E2 Series Shinkansen train to Morioka during boarding at Tokyo Station

A beef lunch box (bento) for myself, resting on the window sill of the train


At 12.35 p.m., more passengers, including my family, boarded the train, just in good time for a 12.40 p.m. departure. My family then settled into their assigned seats No. 7B to 7D respectively. As soon as all the passengers were on board the train, we finally pulled out of Tokyo Station at 12.40 p.m., just as planned. Here are some pictures and a video which will explain the sector between Tokyo and Utsunomiya.


E2系新幹線 J7編成 やまびこ53号 盛岡行き 東京駅から発車とグリーン車


A beef lunch box (bento) for myself, resting on my tray table

Approaching Omiya Station

Shortly after departing Omiya Station

Passing by a rice paddy field in Saitama Prefecture

The rear view of the E2 Series Shinkansen Green Car cabin, as seen from my seat

Passing through Oyama Station

The information placard of the E2 Series Shinkansen beside the train door


After a 49-minute journey from Tokyo on the Shinkansen YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 53 bound for Morioka, we finally arrived at Utsunomiya Station at 1.29 p.m.. After we alighted, I took a photo and a video of the train's departure from Utsunomiya Station.


The E2 Series Shinkansen train which took us to Utsunomiya earlier

E2系新幹線 J7編成 やまびこ53号 盛岡行き 宇都宮駅から出発


The Tohoku Shinkansen platforms of Utsunomiya Station in the afternoon

The Tohoku Shinkansen name plate towards Hachinohe of Utsunomiya Station 

The Tohoku Shinkansen concourse of Utsunomiya Station

Utsunomiya Station is the main railway station serving the city of Utsunomiya, the prefectural capital of Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is as an interchange station for the Tohoku Shinkansen, Utsunomiya Line (Tohoku Main Line), Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Nikko Line and the Karasuyama Line.


We had approximately 1 hour before our next train to Nikko at 2.33 p.m.. We decided to look around Utsunomiya Station while waiting. I then decided to do some train spotting on the Tohoku Shinkansen platforms while waiting. Here are some pictures and a video which I took outside of Utsunomiya Station and on the Tohoku Shinkansen platforms.


The station concourse of Utsunomiya Station

Outside Utsunomiya Station

The view of downtown Utsunomiya, as seen from Utsunomiya Station

Another view of the Tohoku Shinkansen platforms of Utsunomiya Station, with a 200 Series Shinkansen train departing in the background

The E4 Series Shinkansen train showing the Shinkansen "Max YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 117 bound for Sendai

The E3-2000 and E4 Series Shinkansen trains joined together as the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" and "Max YAMABIKO" Superexpresses No. 117 bound for Yamagata and Sendai as one train between Tokyo and Fukushima

The E3-2000 Series Shinkansen train operating the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 117 bound for Yamagata

The LED destination panel of the E3-2000 Series Shinkansen train showing the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 117 bound for Yamagata

The E3-2000 Series Shinkansen train showing the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 114 bound for Tokyo

E3系・E4系新幹線 Maxやまびこ・つばさ114号 東京行き 宇都宮駅から出発


The E3 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "NASUNO" Superexpress No. 257 bound for Koriyama



The E2 and E3 Series Shinkansen train joined together and operating on the Shinkansen "NASUNO" Superexpress No. 257 bound for Koriyama

The E2 Series Shinkansen train operating on the Shinkansen "NASUNO" Superexpress No. 257 bound for Koriyama


After doing my usual train spotting, I went to meet my parents on the JR Nikko Line platforms to catch the 2.33 p.m. local train bound for Nikko. Here are some pictures which will explain the sector between Utsunomiya and Nikko.


The Nikko Line is a railway line operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Utsunomiya and Nikko. The line mainly uses 107 series EMUs operated by JR East as its main rolling stock.


The JR Nikko Line platforms of Utsunomiya Station

The interior of the JR Nikko Line 107 series train to Nikko, while at Utsunomiya Station

Passing by a paddy field on the way to Nikko from Utsunomiya

The interior of the JR Nikko Line 107 series train to Nikko, during the journey to Nikko

Passing by another paddy field on the way to Nikko from Utsunomiya


After a 41-minute journey on the JR Nikko Line from Utsunomiya, we finally arrived at the Nikko terminal station at 3.14 p.m.. We then to a nearby car rental area to rent a car for half of the day. Here are some pictures before we went to the nearby car rental area.


The station platforms of Nikko Station just after we arrived

The signboard above the entrance to JR Nikko Station

The entrance to JR Nikko Station

A view of the town of Nikko

A street and road in Nikko

As soon as we rented our half-day car, we went to drive around Nikko. These are some pictures that will explain our day in Nikko.


A few trees and bushes as seen from our rented car in Nikko

The Sacred Bridge (神橋; shinkyo) to the Futarasan jinja Shrine above the Daiya River

A roadway and walkway in Nikko

A view of some mountains in Nikko

Driving up a mountain road while exploring Nikko

Mount Nantai, as seen from the car on a cloudy day in Nikko

Lake Chuzenji, as seen from our rented car, while driving around Nikko

The interior of the lakeside cafeteria beside Lake Chuzenji in Nikko

A view of Lake Chuzenji in Nikko

A stone-made body of a fish in Lake Chuzenji

Another view of the interior of the lakeside cafeteria beside Lake Chuzenji in Nikko

A model of a house in the lakeside cafeteria beside Lake Chuzenji in Nikko

Lake Chuzenji on a cloudy day

A cup of hot chocolate for myself in the lakeside cafe by Lake Chuzenji

Another beautiful view of Lake Chuzenji


After spending the afternoon in Nikko, we decided to head back to the car rental area near JR Nikko Station to return the car. We also stopped at the Kanaya Hotel Nikko for a bathroom break along the way back to Nikko Station. Here are some pictures.


Another beautiful view of Lake Chuzenji, just before we left for Nikko Station

Passing by a house in Nikko

A view of a mountain while heading back to JR Nikko Station

Passing by a forest while climbing down a mountain road

Climbing down an open mountain roadway

Passing by another mountain forest along the way back to JR Nikko Station

The entrance to the Kanaya Hotel Nikko

The hotel lobby of the Kanaya Hotel Nikko. Please excuse me for the unclear view

The hotel lounge of the Kanaya Hotel Nikko


After stopping for a bathroom break at the Kanaya Hotel Nikko, we went to a nearby petrol station to refill the car's petrol tank. We then returned the car to the car rental area just before 7 o' clock in the evening, and walked back to Nikko Station.


To get back to Tokyo, our itinerary would be to take the JR Nikko Line back to Utsunomiya from Nikko, and finally take the Tohoku Shinkansen all the way back to Tokyo. Here are some pictures just before we left Nikko.


The roadway near JR Nikko Station at night

The station building of JR Nikko Station

We will be taking the 7.03 p.m. JR Nikko Line local train bound for Utsunomiya

The JR Nikko Line ticket gate of Nikko Station


After we arrived at JR Nikko Station, we decided to catch the local train bound for Utsunomiya, which would leave Nikko Station at 7.03 p.m.. The journey between Nikko and Utsunomiya took approximately 41 minutes. I didn't take much pictures on this sector, except for the interior of the train.


The interior of the JR Nikko Line 107 series train bound for Utsunomiya


After a 41-minute journey from Nikko, we arrived at Utsunomiya Station at 7.44 p.m., just as planned. My mum then went to the JR Ticket Office to purchase our Shinkansen Green Car tickets for the final sector back to Tokyo. According to her, we would be taking the Shinkansen Max YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 128 bound for Tokyo, which would depart from Utsunomiya Station at 8.06 p.m. from Track No. 4. Here are some pictures which I took before heading to the Tohoku Shinkansen Track No. 4 of Utsunomiya Station.


Some restaurants in the station concourse of Utsunomiya Station

The Tohoku Shinkansen concourse of Utsunomiya Station

We will be going on the Shinkansen "Max YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 128 bound for Tokyo


At around 8 o' clock, we went up to the Tohoku Shinkansen Track No. 4 of Utsunomiya Station to catch the Shinkansen Max YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 128 bound for Tokyo. These are some pictures which I managed to take while waiting.


The Tohoku Shinkansen platforms of Utsunomiya Station at night, facing towards the direction to Sendai and Hachinohe, with an E2 Series and an E3 Series Shinkansen train joined together and about to depart

The Tohoku Shinkansen name plate of Utsunomiya Station at night

The Tohoku Shinkansen platforms of Utsunomiya Station at night, facing towards the direction to Sendai and Hachinohe

The Tohoku Shinkansen platforms of Utsunomiya Station at night, facing towards the direction to Tokyo

The boarding car no. details of the Shinkansen "Max YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 128 bound for Tokyo


After approximately 5 minutes of waiting, the Shinkansen Max YAMABIKO Superexpress No. 128 bound for Tokyo, operated by an E4 Series Shinkansen train, finally entered Utsunomiya Station at 8.05 p.m. on Track No. 4. This train was joined to an E3-2000 Series Shinkansen train, which was operating on the Shinkansen TSUBASA Superexpress No. 128 bound for Tokyo. They must have done their coupling whilst at Fukushima, and were forming as one train between Fukushima and Tokyo.


We then boarded the train through Car No. 8 and went into the upper deck, where the Green Car cabin was located. We all settled into our seats No. 25A to 25D respectively. At exactly 8.06 p.m., we pulled out of Utsunomiya Station for the 50-minute journey back to Tokyo. These are some pictures and videos which will explain the final sector back to Tokyo from Utsunomiya.

The front view of the Green Car cabin in the upper deck of the E4 Series Shinkansen

A pair of Green Car seats on the upper deck of the E4 Series Shinkansen

E4系新幹線 Maxやまびこ128号 東京行き 車窓から小山駅を通過


The rear view of the Green Car cabin in the upper deck of the E4 Series Shinkansen, as seen from my seat

E4系新幹線 Maxやまびこ128号 東京行き 車窓から大宮駅に到着


At Ueno Station

The rear view of the Green Car cabin in the upper deck of the E4 Series Shinkansen


After a 50-minute journey from Utsunomiya, we finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.56 p.m. on Track No. 20, just as scheduled. Here are some pictures I took just after arrival.


The E3-2000 Series Shinkansen train, which was coupled behind us earlier

The E3-2000 and E4 Series Shinkansen trains joined together at Tokyo Station

The E4 Series Shinkansen train which took us back to Tokyo from Utsunomiya earlier

Tohoku, Joetsu, and Nagano Shinkansen Tracks No. 20 and 21 of Tokyo Station


After taking some pictures, we went over to Daimaru Department Store Tokyo to see what food we needed to purchase. We then headed back to the Somerset Serviced Apartments Roppongi Tokyo via a taxi.


We then had dinner in our apartment, had a shower, and went to bed by 12 midnight, as we had a special day ahead of me the next day.


Part 4 ~ Birthday Trip To Kobe


After a few days of anticipation, the special day (Friday, 4 June), which was my 15th birthday, finally arrived. I woke up at around 9.30 a.m., feeling very excited and energetic about my first train ride on the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress train between Tokyo and Kobe via Osaka. I received a few birthday messages that morning.


We then had a shower and packed all of our necessary items for this special birthday treat. At around 11.30 a.m., we hailed a taxi to Tokyo Station. Our itinerary for the day would be to take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Shin-osaka from Tokyo, and change to the JR Kobe Line to Kobe from Shin-osaka.


As soon as we arrived at Tokyo Station at 12 noon, we went to the JR Ticket Office to get our Green Car (first class) tickets to Shin-osaka. We would be travelling on different trains for the sector between Tokyo and Shin-osaka. As part of my 15th birthday travel, my parents and younger brother booked me on the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), whereas they booked their seats on the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 513 bound for Shin-osaka. I was very excited once I received my ticket, as this would be my first ride on a NOZOMI train on the Shinkansen.


My NOZOMI train to Hakata, of which, my destination was Shin-osaka, would depart from track No. 16 at 12.30 p.m., whereas my family's HIKARI train to Shin-osaka would depart from track No. 14 at 12.33 p.m. respectively.


The busy roads of Tokyo near Tokyo Station

The Yaesu Central Entrance of Tokyo Station beside the JR Highway Bus platforms

On the way to the JR Ticket Office

The Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen ticket gates at Tokyo Station


NOZOMI is the fastest train service operating on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. It only stops at the largest stations, and along the stretch of the Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka), with the fastest journey between Tokyo and Hakata (Fukuoka) taking 4 hours 50 minutes. The service currently utilizes 300 series (until 16 March 2012), 700 series, and N700 series trains as its main rolling stock. All services consist of 16 cars. It is operated by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) and West Japan Railway Company (JR West).


The service started on March 14, 1992, using new 300 series trainsets with a top speed of 270 km/h. From March 22, 1997 to February 28, 2010, 500 series trainsets were introduced on these services between Tokyo and Hakata, covering the sector between Shin-osaka and Hakata in just 2 hours 17 minutes, with a top speed of 300 km/h.


700 series trainsets were introduced on these services on March 13, 1999, with a top speed of 285 km/h. The latest rolling stock to JR Central and JR West, which is the N700 series, entered service on July 1, 2007, initially on four daily round-trip NOZOMI service runs, with a top speed of 300 km/h, like the 500 series trains. From the start of the revised timetable on 13 March 2010, all regular through NOZOMI services between Tokyo and Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata were operated by N700 series trains.

From the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, all regular NOZOMI train services, including runs limited to the Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, will be operated by the new N700 Series Shinkansen trains, of which, at the same time, all 100 series and 300 series trains are scheduled to be retired.


The 
NOZOMI service is not valid for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass. So this means that if you have a JR Pass, you cannot use the NOZOMI service. If you really wish to use this service, you will have to pay the basic fare and the Shinkansen express charge, as well as the Green Car (first class) charge, if you use a Green Car (first class) seat (e.g. a journey between Tokyo and Hakata in a Green Car costs 29,250 yen each way).


It is therefore advisable to use either a HIKARI and KODAMA train when travelling on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines with a Japan Rail Pass. But bear in mind that the KODAMA is the slowest train and makes a lot of stops, so many JR Pass holders will opt to take a HIKARI train whenever possible.

A good reason for thNOZOMI service not being valid with the Japan Rail Pass would be that a majority of the NOZOMI trains along the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines don't stop at popular tourist destinations in Japan, which make them  something like commuter express trains. Hence, the NOZOMI service doesn't prove to be very useful among Japan Rail Pass holders, as tourists generally prefer to visit popular tourist areas in Japan. Such areas with popular tourist destinations include those in Hiroshima, Hyogo, Shiga, Shizuoka and Yamaguchi Prefectures.



However, for those of you who are particular about trains having Green Cars, I can explain to you how to get to your destination from Tokyo (e.g. Tokyo to Fukuoka) with a Green-type JR Pass.


The remaining sector and the Kyushu Shinkansen between Hakata and Shin-yatsushiro was opened since 12 March 2011 (the day after the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific Ocean tsunami). As a result, two new direct services between Shin-osaka and Kagoshima-chuo, in Kagoshima, were introduced on the Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. They are mainly the MIZUHO and SAKURA.


The MIZUHO and SAKURA are two new shinkansen services operating on the Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines in Japan. Both services use special 8-car N700-7000 and N700-8000 series trainsets, with some SAKURA services on the Kyushu Shinkansen using 6-car 800 series trains. The SAKURA has many operations, whereas the MIZUHO has 4 services per day (2 in the morning, 2 in the evening). However, from the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, there will be an extra daily MIZUHO service which will also operate in the morning and evening. On the services operated by new 8-car N700 series trains, half of one car (Car No. 6) provides Green Car (first class) seating.


As with the NOZOMI service on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines, the MIZUHO is not valid for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass. The reason for this is the same as I have written above for the NOZOMI service. So this means that if you have a JR Pass, you will also not be able to use this train. To use this service, you must pay the full fare and the Shinkansen express charge, as well as the Green Car (first class) charge, if you use a Green Car (first class) seat (e.g. a journey between Shin-osaka and Kagoshima-chuo in a Green Car costs 30,390 yen each way). You should use a SAKURA train whenever possible if you wish to save up money.


To get to Fukuoka from Tokyo with a JR Pass, you can take a HIKARI service between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, and change to a SAKURA train between Shin-osaka and Hakata. The journey time takes approximately 6 hours at minimum, but it's worth the trouble if you wish to avoid paying extra charges.


However, you should be aware that on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines, all trains services operated by the new N700 series trains are completely non-smoking. This means that smoking is not permitted in any area of the trains.


For those of you who smoke, JR Central, JR West, and JR Kyushu have installed smoking compartments in all of their N700 series trains. In each 16-car set owned by JR Central and JR West, smoking compartments are available in Cars No. 3, 7, 10 (for Green Car smokers), and 15. For each of the 8-car sets owned by JR West and JR Kyushu, smoking compartments are available in Cars No. 3 and 7.


I then went to purchase a grilled meat lunchbox (yakiniku bento) from the kiosk located in the Shinkansen concourse before heading to track No. 16 for my Shinkansen train to Osaka. I saw that the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) that would take me to Shin-osaka was operated by a JR West N700 Series 'N' Set. It was still being cleaned by the time I got onto track No. 16. Here are some pictures while waiting for boarding to commence.


The train departure information signboard on Tokaido Shinkansen Track No. 16 of Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the N700 Series Shinkansen, showing Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka)

The N700 Series Shinkansen logo

Tokaido Shinkansen track No. 16 of Tokyo Station

The boarding car no. details of the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata


At 12.23 p.m., the train doors were opened and the passengers were allowed to board the train. I entered through car No. 7 to get to Green Car carriage No. 8, as I wanted to get a clear front view of the Green Car cabin. I then went to my assigned seat No. 14D, and settled in for the journey to Shin-osaka, which would take 2 hours 36 minutes. Here are some pictures I took during boarding and while waiting for departure from Tokyo Station.


The front view of the Green Car cabin of the N700 Series Shinkansen, during boarding at Tokyo Station

The Green Car seating of the JR West N700 Series Shinkansen 'N' Set

The rear view of the Green Car cabin of the N700 Series Shinkansen, during boarding at Tokyo Station

The posted information placard of the N700 series train on the Green Car tray table

After all the passengers for the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) were on board, we pulled out of Tokyo Station at exactly 12.30 p.m., as planned. Between Shin-yokohama and Nagoya, and Nagoya and Kyoto, the train passed through several stations. Here are some pictures and videos which will explain the journey between Tokyo and Shin-osaka on the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka).


The grilled meat lunchbox (yakiniku bento) which I purchased from a station kiosk below the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms

Arriving at Shin-yokohama Station

Passing through Odawara Station on the way to Shin-osaka

Passing through Atami Station on the way to Shin-osaka

Passing through Mishima Station

N700系新幹線 N4編成 のぞみ35号 博多行き グリーン車の座席


N700系新幹線 N4編成 のぞみ35号 博多行き 車窓から浜松駅を通過


The sign outside one of the smoking compartments in the N700 Series Shinkansen, reminding passengers that smoking is permitted only in the smoking compartments of the N700 series trains

One of the smoking compartments in the N700 Series Shinkansen train

My Shinkansen train ticket for the sector between Tokyo and Shin-osaka

Passing through Toyohashi Station

Getting closer to Nagoya

Approaching Nagoya Station

N700系新幹線 N4編成 のぞみ35号 博多行き 名古屋駅から発車とグリーン車


The Green Car cabin of the N700 Series Shinkansen train shortly after departure from Nagoya Station

A view of my seat, 14D, on the way to Shin-osaka

My consecutive (fixed) 7-day Green-type Japan Rail Pass

Passing through some paddy fields in Gifu Prefecture

Shortly after passing through Maibara Station

Approaching Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station, as seen from the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata

Shortly after leaving Kyoto Station

A lineup of JR Central and JR West Shinkansen trains at Torikai Shinkansen Depot in Settsu, Osaka

Another view of the Torikai Shinkansen depot while getting closer to Shin-osaka Station

After 2 hours 36 minutes of travelling from the hustle and bustle Tokyo on the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 35 bound for Hakata, I finally arrived at Shin-osaka Station at 3.06 p.m., on track No. 21, just as planned. I then took all of my belongings with me and alighted the train. I also managed to take some pictures (including a picture of an 8-car 700 Series Shinkansen operating on a HIKARI Rail Star Superexpress No. 569 bound for Hakata) and a video while waiting for my parents and brother to arrive on the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 513 from Tokyo.


Shin-osaka Station is a railway station located in Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, Japan. It is the western terminus for the Tokaido Shinkansen, and the eastern terminus for the Sanyo Shinkansen. The lines are physically joined, and many trains offer through service.


Shin-osaka Station is approximately 3 km from the older Osaka Station, and is one of the major rail terminals in the Keihanshin area. It was constructed in 1964 to avoid engineering difficulties of running Shinkansen lines into the city center. The JR Kyoto Line and the Osaka Municipal Subway Midosuji Line provide convenient connections to other stations around the city center.


Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Track No. 21 of Shin-osaka Station

N700系新幹線 N4編成 のぞみ35号 博多行き 新大阪駅から出発


The 8-car 700 Series Shinkansen (E) trainset, operating on a Shinkansen "HIKARI Rail Star" Superexpress No. 569 bound for Hakata on Track No. 20

The Shinkansen platforms of Shin-osaka Station

The LED destination panel of the N700 Series Shinkansen, showing Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 109 bound for Hiroshima

After waiting for approximately 25 minutes, my parents and younger brother finally arrived on the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 513 from Tokyo at 3.30 p.m. on Track No. 22. We then went to the JR Kobe Line platforms No. 15 and 16 to catch a Special Rapid Service train for the sector between Shin-osaka and Kobe. Here are some pictures that will explain the sector between Shin-osaka and Kobe.


Kobe is a port city located near Osaka in the Kansai Region in Japan. It is the fifth-largest city and the capital of Hyogo Prefecture located to the southern side of Honshu, approximately 30 km from Osaka. Being a part of Keihanshin metropolitan area, like Osaka and Kyoto, it is home to approximately 1.5 million residents.


On January 17, 1995, Kobe was very badly affected by the Great Hanshin earthquake, which diminished its prominence as a port city. However, it is still the fourth busiest container port in Japan. The earthquake left about 6,434 people losing their lives, and approximately 300,000 residents losing their homes.

It was considered the worst earthquake to ever occur in Japan, until the most recent 2011 Tohoku-Pacific Ocean tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011. The earthquake and tsunami resulted in 15,845 people dead, 5893 injured, and 3380 people missing, as well as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. This made the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean tsunami much worse than the Great Hanshin earthquake.


Track No. 16 of the JR Tokaido Line platforms of Shin-osaka Station

The interior of the "Special Rapid Service" train operated by a JR West 223 series EMU

Passing through Motomachi Station

The JR Kobe Line station platforms of Kobe Station

Name plate of Kobe Station


After 30 minutes of travelling from Shin-osaka Station, we arrived at Kobe Station at around 4.10 p.m.. We then went to a McDonald's cafe in the station to have tea, before exploring around.


Kobe Station is one of the railway stations serving the city of Kobe in Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan. Although the station's name is the namesake of the city and closer to the Kobe City Hall, Kobe's commercial center is nearer to Sannomiya Station. Harborland shopping district is easily accessible from Kobe Station.

The interior of the McDonald's cafe in Kobe Station

Our McDonald's tea in McDonald's Cafe Kobe Station

A lineup of restaurants and cafeterias in Kobe Station


After a quick snack, we decided to walk around Kobe. Many of the areas were under renovation as we passed through them. However, some sights did catch our attention. I went to see what Kobe Airport was like via the Port Liner, whereas my parents and brother shopped around Sannomiya. Here are some pictures that will explain how we spent our day in Kobe.

The entrance to Duo Kobe Shopping Arcade

The interior of Harborland Kobe

One of the tall buildings in Kobe

The statue of Elvis Presley in Kobe

Outside JR West Sannomiya Station

A flower bench and bush outside JR Sannomiya Station

The Sogo Department Store Sannomiya Kobe just near JR Sannomiya Station

The Port Liner platforms of Sannomiya Station

The name plate of Port Liner Sannomiya Station

The interior of the Port Liner train in Kobe

Passing by a highway on the way to Kobe Airport on the Port Liner

Crossing the sea from mainland Kobe to the Kobe Airport island

The Port Liner station platforms of Kobe Airport Station

The entrance to the departure lobby of Kobe Airport

The departure lobby of Kobe Airport

The tarmac at Kobe Airport

The entrance to Port Liner Kobe Airport Station

Crossing the sea on the way back to Sannomiya

A panoramic view of the Port Liner towards Sannomiya Station

One of the busy expressways of Kobe

A plate of spaghetti carbonara at La Bilancia Restaurant in Sogo Department Store Kobe

The logo of La Bilancia Restaurant in Sogo Department Store Kobe

The entrance to Sogo Department Store Kobe

After spending the birthday afternoon in Kobe, it was time to head back to Tokyo. For the first sector between Sannomiya and Shin-osaka, we would be taking the JR Tokaido Line Special Rapid Service train. We then walked to JR Sannomiya Station's ticket office to purchase our Green Car back Shinkansen tickets back to Tokyo. I was booked a Green Car seat on the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo, whereas my parents and brother booked their seats on the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 532 bound for Tokyo.

Sannomiya Station is the main railway terminal serving the city of Kobe located in Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan. It serves the JR West Kobe Line, Hanshin Railway Main Line, Hankyu Electric Railway Kobe Line (Kobe Kosoku Line), and the Kobe Municipal Subway Seishin-Yamate Line.

However, to avoid reading confusions, the station name in Japanese for JR West is written as 三ノ宮駅, whereas for the Hanshin Railway, Hankyu Electric Railway, and the Kobe Municipal Subway, it is written as 三宮駅.

Generally, there are more passengers who use Sannomiya Station instead of Kobe Station. Also, the Kobe Terminal for highway buses is just adjacent to this station. On the other hand, there are more limited express trains that serve Sannomiya Station instead of Kobe Station.

After purchasing our tickets, we went over to Tracks No. 1 and 2 towards Osaka and Kyoto to catch the Special Rapid Service train to Shin-osaka. Here are some pictures taken while waiting.

The ticketing concourse of JR West Sannomiya Station

Commuters lining up to board a train on Tracks No. 1 and 2 of Sannomiya Station

Track No. 1 of Sannomiya Station, with the Hankyu Electric Railway line beside the platform

The station platform of JR Sannomiya Station

After waiting for approximately 20 minutes, the Special Rapid Service train, operated by a JR West 223 series EMU, entered Sannomiya Station at 7.33 p.m.. We then departed Sannomiya Station at 7.34 p.m., for a 30-minute train journey to Shin-osaka Station. Here are a few pictures which will explain the sector between Sannomiya and Shin-osaka.

The interior of the 223 series EMU, operating on a "Special Rapid Service" train towards Shin-osaka

Arriving at Osaka Station

Tracks No. 13 and 14 of Shin-osaka Station

After 30 minutes of travelling from Sannomiya Station on the Special Rapid Service train, we arrived at Shin-osaka Station at 8.04 p.m.. We quickly went to a nearby station kiosk in the Tokaido Shinkansen concourse to buy some beverages. As soon as we purchased our beverages, we went to Tracks No. 25 and 26 for our trains back to Tokyo.

At 8.07 p.m., a 300 Series Shinkansen train operated by JR Central, which would become the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 532 bound for Tokyo, entered Shin-osaka on Track No. 25. Immediately, my parents and brother boarded their HIKARI train, and settled into their seats. As for me, I went over to Track No. 26 to wait for my train, which was the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo. Here are some pictures taken while waiting.

The Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen concourse of Shin-osaka Station

The train departure information board located on Tracks No. 25 and 26 of the Tokaido Shinkansen platforms of Shin-osaka Station

Tokaido Shinkansen Tracks No. 25 and 26 of Shin-osaka Station

The boarding car no. details of the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo

The LED destination panel of the 300 Series Shinkansen train, showing the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 532 bound for Tokyo

At 8.15 p.m., the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo finally entered Shin-osaka Station on Track No. 26. The service was operated by a JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen 'Z' set. I boarded through Green Car carriage No. 9 and settled into my seat, 8D, for the journey back to Tokyo. Here are a few photographs taken just before I departed from Shin-osaka Station.

The Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo LED sign, just after entering Shin-osaka Station

The front view of the Green Car cabin of the N700 Series Shinkansen, during boarding at Shin-osaka Station

After 2 minutes of waiting, my train finally departed from Shin-osaka Station at 8.17 p.m., as planned. I then left my parents and brother waiting for their train departure at 8.23 p.m.. Here are some pictures and videos that will explain the return sector between Shin-osaka and Tokyo.

N700系新幹線 Z33編成 のぞみ60号 東京行き 新大阪駅から発車とグリーン車


My Shinkansen train ticket for the final sector between Shin-osaka and Tokyo

Arriving at Kyoto Station

Passing through Maibara Station on the way to back to Tokyo

The rear view of the Green Car cabin of the N700 Series Shinkansen, between Kyoto and Nagoya

The Green Car seating of the JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen 'Z' Set

A view of my seat, 8D, on the way back to Tokyo

Approaching Nagoya Station

Passing through Hamamatsu Station, and overtaking a 300 Series Shinkansen operating on the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 690 bound for Mishima

The rear view of the Green Car cabin, as seen from my seat

N700系新幹線 Z33編成 のぞみ60号 東京行き 車窓から静岡駅を通過


The Green Car cabin of the N700 Series Shinkansen train between Nagoya and Shin-yokohama

Passing through Atami Station on the way back to Tokyo from Shin-osaka

Passing through Odawara Station on the way back to Tokyo from Shin-osaka

Approaching Shin-yokohama Station

At Shinagawa Station

After travelling from Shin-osaka Station for 2 hours 36 minutes, I finally arrived back at the Tokyo terminal station at 10.53 p.m. on Track No. 14, right on schedule. I gathered all of my possessions and alighted the train. I then snapped some pictures on Tracks No. 14 and 16, while waiting for my parents and brother to arrive on the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 532 at 11.10 p.m..

The LED destination panel of the N700 Series Shinkansen, showing Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo

The LED destination panel of the N700 Series Shinkansen, showing that the train is out of service

The beautiful and famous logo of the N700 Series Shinkansen

The N700 Series Shinkansen train which took me back to Tokyo from Shin-osaka earlier

An out-of-service N700 Series Shinkansen train departing Tokyo Station from Track No. 15

An out-of-service JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen train on Track No. 18 of Tokyo Station

After 17 minutes of waiting, my parents and brother finally arrived on the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 532 at 11.10 p.m. on Track No. 16. As soon as they alighted, we hailed a taxi back to the Somerset Serviced Apartments Roppongi Tokyo. We were all tired from our long day, but I was happy and thanked my parents for this special birthday treat.

In conclusion, I cannot say that Kobe is special, unlike Osaka or Kyoto. However, this was one of the best birthdays I have ever had in my entire life, as I was finally given the chance to board a Shinkansen NOZOMI train for my birthday on my own, which was indeed the best part of the treat.

With a ride on Shinkansen NOZOMI train in Japan, I can really say that this is one of the best birthday presents I have ever had in my life. I shall never ever forget this special moment, and when I get the chance, I will gladly go on Shinkansen NOZOMI train again.

This officially brings the third section of my summer holiday in Tokyo, Japan in May and June 2010 to a close. Do remember to stay tuned for the remaining sections of this report.

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