Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Christmas Special: End-of-Year Winter Vacation to Japan in December 2014 ~ Section 2

Welcome to the second segment of my very special end-of-year winter vacation to Japan in December 2014. There will be a total of four focus topics that will be covered in this section of the Christmas special report. They will mainly be spending our first day exploring around the city of Nagano and family relaxations at the Shirouma Onsen, together with my very first Christmas shopping journey to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

Part 1 ~ Spending The First Day Exploring Around Nagano

The next morning, which was Thursday (11 December), I woke up at around 6.45 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. Though it was still too early to do anything else, I had a nice, hot shower and changed up into my attire for the day. For the rest of the early morning, I simply sat down and did some surfing on my laptop quietly since the rest of my family were still fast asleep from our long journey from Singapore the previous day.

Soon enough, by around ten o' clock, all of us were awake. Once the rest of my family had a nice, hot shower and changed into their attires for the day, my dad went over to the kitchen to whip us some breakfast for us to satisfy our hunger for the morning. My parents informed us that today, we would be driving over to the city of Nagano to do some shopping for some necessities, such as groceries, and for some free driving around the roads.

The interior of the kitchen area in our Chalet No. 1 in The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we all woke up

The living room area in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we all woke up

After spending the rest of the morning preparing our necessary belongings for the day and having a hearty home-made breakfast, the clock was finally showing 12.15 p.m.. Feeling it was already time to be heading to Nagano, we put on our necessary footwear and winter jackets and headed to our rented black Nissan car parked just our chalet. Boarding our car, we finally departed our Chalet No. 1 at 12.30 p.m. for a road journey of 2 hours 10 minutes to the city of Nagano, stopping at some convenience shops on the way for some light food.

Nagano (長野市) is a mid-sized urban city located in the Shin'etsu area of the Chubu region of Japan. It is the prefectural capital of Nagano Prefecture, and has an estimated population of 377,529, making Nagano the second-largest city in the Shin'etsu region after Niigata, as of 1 December 2014. The city is internationally notable for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics and for housing the Zenko-ji Temple as one of the most historical temples and tourist spots in Japan. Though the city does not have its own airport, it can be reached easily by train via Nagano Station.

Our rented black Nissan car parked just outside our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Finally departing The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba via the somewhat slushy roads near our Chalet No. 1

Travelling along the wet and slushy roads near The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba as we begin our trip to Nagano

Bypassing a small late by The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Crossing a snowy river in the sparse, rural popular ski village of Hakuba on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Bypassing a rice paddy field by the JR Oito Line tracks in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Bypassing a farming field by a hilly forest in the sparse, rural village of Ogawa

Bypassing the Shinano River close to the sparse, rural village of Ogawa

Crossing a river bridge towards the Nagano-Hakuba toll gate

Bypassing the Shinano River close to Nagano

Travelling parallel to the Shinano River close to a dry and leafless forest near Nagano

Stopping at a Mos Burger fast-food restaurant near the Nagano Shinkansen viaduct in the city of Nagano

Overlooking the Nagano Shinkansen tracks from Mos Burger fast-food restaurant in Nagano on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling parallel to the Shin'etsu Main Line and Nagano Shinkansen tracks in the mid-sized urban city of Nagano

Crossing the Shinano River into downtown Nagano on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nagano close to the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano near Nagano Station

Bypassing the South Entrance undergoing renovation works at Nagano Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Bypassing a church in the city of Nagano on a bright winter's afternoon

Bypassing the Tokyu Department Store located near Nagano Station in the city of Nagano on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nagano in the direction close to a multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

After a somewhat long afternoon road journey of 2 hours 10 minutes from the sparse, rural popular ski village of Hakuba, we finally arrived at a multi-storey car parking area located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station at 2.40 p.m.. Parking the car at one of the empty parking spaces, my parents opted to look around the area, while my younger brother and I opted to stay at the car parking area and wait for them until they arrived back. My parents agreed and left us to enjoy our own private moments in the car parking building.

While waiting for our parents to arrive back at the car, I went out of the car to spot just a few Shinkansen trains coming into and going out of Nagano Station. Soon enough, my parents finally arrived back at our rented black Nissan car at three o' clock. They then informed us that we would be seeing more of Nagano, promising to return to the same car parking area at the same time. Soon enough, we finally left the multi-storey car parking building near the South Entrance to Nagano Station at 3.05 p.m. for an afternoon tour around Nagano.

About to park our rented black Nissan car at an empty parking space in the multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

Overlooking the railway lines coming in and out of Nagano Station on a bright winter's afternoon

A 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F12, about to operate as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 532 bound for Tokyo, approaching Nagano Station

Overlooking the Mielparque Hotel Nagano from the multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nagano again to commence our city tour

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nagano in the direction to the Zenko-ji Temple

Overlooking the city of Nagano as we commence our climb up the mountain road to Zenko-ji Temple on a bright winter's afternoon

An overall beautiful view of the city of Nagano as we climb up the mountain road to Zenko-ji Temple on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads close to the Zenko-ji Temple on a bright winter's afternoon

One of the main pagodas at the Zenko-ji Temple on a bright winter's afternoon

The exterior view of the main building at Zenko-ji Temple on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling downhill past some restaurants in downtown Nagano on a bright winter's afternoon

Two small railway banners attached to a lamp post in downtown Nagano on a bright winter's afternoon

About to turn to the roads of downtown Nagano close to Nagano Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The exterior view of the South Side of Nagano Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nagano back to the multi-storey car parking building near the South Entrance to Nagano Station on a bright winter's afternoon

After a short afternoon road tour around the urban city of Nagano, we finally arrived back at the multi-storey car parking area near the South Entrance to Nagano Station at 3.45 p.m.. Parking our rented black Nissan car at one of the empty spaces, we alighted from the car and took all our belongings with us. While the rest of my family decided to head to Tokyu Department Store, I decided to head to Nagano Station to make some seat reservations. My parents then gave their consent and told me to meet them at Tokyu Department Store once I was finished.

Without wasting anymore time, while my family headed over to the Tokyu Department Store, I made my way to the South Entrance of Nagano Station, eventually arriving there by 3.55 p.m.. Entering the station, I took the escalator up to the main station concourse and walked over to the JR Ticket Office located in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse. Once I reached the JR Ticket Office, I went in and saw that there were not much people rolling up to make their seat reservations. Once my turn came, I promptly made my seat reservations to travel to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) for Saturday (13 December) and for Nagoya on Sunday (14 December).

Nagano Station (長野駅) is a major railway station located in the city of Nagano, Japan. The station serves as the central and busiest railway terminal in Nagano, and is jointly managed by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and Nagano Electric Railway. Nagano currently serves as the northwestern terminus for the Nagano Shinkansen line, and will also serve the future Hokuriku Shinkansen line, which is scheduled to open on 14 March 2015. The station also serves the Shin'etsu Main Line, Shinonoi Line, Iiyama Line, Shinano Railway Line and Nagano Electric Railway Nagano Line.

The interior of the first level of the multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

Walking along the streets of downtown Nagano in the direction to the South Side of Nagano Station

The South Side of Nagano Station coming into view

Finally arriving at the South Entrance to Nagano Station

Walking up the escalator to the main station concourse of Nagano Station

The interior of the main station concourse of Nagano Station during the late afternoon hours

Finally arriving at the JR Ticket Office in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Nagano Station

The interior of the JR Ticket Office located in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Nagano Station during the late afternoon hours

After making my necessary Green Car (first class) seat reservations at the JR Ticket Office in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Nagano Station, the clock was finally showing 4.10 p.m.. Knowing that it was time to meet my family at the Tokyu Department Store Nagano, I left the JR Ticket Office and went through the main concourse of the station prior to walking down the stairs to the South Exit of the station. Exiting the station, I crossed the road to the Tokyu Department Store Nagano, arriving at the store's main entrance at 4.15 p.m..

Once I had entered Tokyu Department Store Nagano, I immediately contacted my parents to inform then about my whereabouts. They then told me to meet them at an Italian Restaurant on the seventh floor, known as Spaghetti House (スパゲッティハウス), where they were already having some afternoon tea. With that, I immediately proceeded to the elevator lobby and took the elevator up to the seventh floor, and walked all the way to Spaghetti House, where my family was still having their afternoon tea.

The interior of the main station concourse of Nagano Station as I begin to make my way to the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

An electronic poster indicating that it would be three months more to go before the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Nagano and Kanazawa on 14 March 2015 in the JR Line concourse of Nagano Station

Walking down the stairs down to the South Exit to Nagano Station

The exterior view of the South Side of Nagano Station as I make my way to the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

Approaching the Tokyu Department Store Nagano on a bright winter's dusk in downtown Nagano

A large Christmas tree located outside the main entrance to the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

The interior of the seventh floor housing the restaurants in the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

Finally arriving at Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant on the seventh floor at the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

After walking through the busy roads of downtown Nagano into the Tokyu Department Store Nagano, I finally arrived at the main entrance to Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant at 4.20 p.m.. Meeting up with my family, who were almost finished with their afternoon tea, at their table, I took a seat just beside my younger brother and was left with the food and beverage menus to make my reviews before placing my main meal orders for my own afternoon tea. Once I was ready to have my afternoon tea, a waiter came by to our table to take down my main meal order for the afternoon tea.

I ordered myself a plate of spaghetti alla carbonara, together with a glass of Coca-cola, as the main course for my afternoon tea. Late that afternoon, I had a sumptuous afternoon tea at Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant. Mid-way through my meal, my parents decided to go down to the store's supermarket to purchase some groceries. Before they left, my dad gave me ¥10,000 to pay up for the afternoon tea bill and instructed me to meet them at the store's supermarket to return him the change once I was done eating.

Once I was finished with my afternoon tea at Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant, the clock was finally showing 5.10 p.m.. Paying up the afternoon tea bill, I took all my belongings and headed down to the first basement of the department store, where the store's supermarket was located. Meeting up with my family there, we all did some shopping for groceries so that in the event that we planned to have any home-made meals in the chalet itself, there would be more than sufficient food for us to last for the upcoming days in Hakuba.

The interior of Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant at the Tokyu Department Store Nagano during afternoon tea hours

Reviewing the food and beverage menu at Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant at the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

A platter of spaghetti alla carbonara, together with a glass of Coca-cola, for myself as my main afternoon tea course

The interior of Spaghetti House Italian Restaurant at the Tokyu Department Store Nagano shortly before I headed down to the first basement supermarket

The interior of the seventh floor housing the restaurants in the Tokyu Department Store Nagano just as I begin to make my way down to the first basement

The interior of the supermarket located in the first basement of the Tokyu Department Store Nagano

After spending the late afternoon doing grocery-shopping at the Tokyu Department Store, the clock was finally showing 5.30 p.m.. Since we were beginning to feel very tired already, we decided to head back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba. Without any more hesitations, once we had packed up our purchased groceries in the necessary bags, we left the Tokyu Department Store Nagano at 5.40 p.m. for the multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station.

Arriving at the multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station at 5.45 p.m., my dad drove the car out and assisted us in loading everything into the boot of the car. Once all our belongings had been loaded into the car and all of us were on board, we finally departed the multi-storey car parking building located close to the South Entrance to Nagano Station at 5.50 p.m. for an evening road trip of 1 hour 55 minutes back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba in the sparse, rural ski village of Hakuba.

Walking along the streets of downtown Nagano in the direction to the multi-storey car parking building located close to the South Side of Nagano Station

Finally arriving back at the multi-storey car parking building located close to the South Side of Nagano Station

The interior of the first level of the multi-storey car parking building located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station at night

About to turn into one of the roads of downtown Nagano at night

Bypassing a petrol station in the city of Nagano at night

Travelling down a road bridge in the city of Nagano towards the road leading to Hakuba at night

Stopping at a medicine store in the city of Nagano

Travelling alongside the Shinano River on the way back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at night

Travelling down a mountainous road close to the Nagano-Hakuba road toll gate at night

Travelling past the sparse, rural village of Ogawa late at night

Travelling along the slushy roads of the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba at night

Bypassing a Lawson convenience store in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba late at night

Travelling along the dark roads of Hakuba close to the direction leading to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Turning to the hilly road leading to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba late at night

Finally arriving back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

The interior of the living room in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at night shortly after we arrived back at our chalet

After a somewhat dark and long road journey from the mid-sized urban city of Nagano, we finally arrived back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 7.45 p.m.. Once my dad had parked the car just outside our chalet, the car boot was opened to allow us to retrieve our belongings and purchased groceries to be promptly brought into the chalet. Hauling all our belongings into our chalet, we set up the groceries in the kitchen and went into the living room to do our own stuff for a rest.

As we began to feel rather hungry, my parents cooked up a home-made barbecue dinner for us, where we used the meat from the groceries which we had purchased earlier in Nagano. Upon having a hearty and sumptuous home-made dinner, my mum reminded us not to stay up too late since we would be having private family relaxations at the Shirouma Onsen, with our reservation made for a slot between 12 noon and two o' clock the next afternoon. Soon enough, by around one or two o' clock that night, we finally turned in for a good night's rest.

Part 2 ~ Our First Private Hot Spring Relaxations At The Shirouma Onsen

The next morning, which was Friday (12 December), all of us woke up at around 9.30 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. The first thing we did was to have a nice, hot shower and change up into our day's attire before doing anything else. My parents then told us that we would be heading to the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉) for a long private hot spring (onsen) relaxation to warm ourselves up from the ice-cold winter surroundings.

Our private onsen reservation was also scheduled for a two-hour period lasting between 12 noon and two o' clock that afternoon. As my parents went to cook a light breakfast for us, I went to prepare my necessary belongings for the day. For the rest of the morning, once we had prepared all our necessary belongings for the day, we all sat down at the dining table to have a hearty breakfast before our private relaxations at the Shirouma Onsen.

The living room area in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we all woke up

The interior of the kitchen area in our Chalet No. 1 in The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we all woke up

The interior of the dining area in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we all woke up

After spending the rest of the morning preparing our necessary belongings for the day, the clock was finally showing 11.10 a.m.. Knowing that our private onsen relaxation reservation at the Shirouma Onsen would be in 50 minutes' time, we quickly grabbed our winter jackets and put on our footwear before heading to our rented black Nissan car parked just outside our chalet. Loading our winter jackets into the boot of the car, my dad started the car engine up while we got in for the short hop to the Shirouma Onsen.

Soon enough, once we had loaded our necessary belongings into the car itself, we finally departed our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 11.15 a.m. for a short road drive of just 25 minutes to the Shirouma Onsen. On the way to the Shirouma Onsen, we stopped over at a Lawson convenience store to purchase some light meals and beverages for lunch since we did not reserve for any lunch meals provided by the onsen itself, and that no restaurants were available at the onsen as well.

Our rented black Nissan car parked just outside our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Finally departing The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba via the somewhat slushy roads near our Chalet No. 1

Travelling along the wet and slushy roads near The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba as we begin our trip to the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

The view of a snowy mountain in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on a cloudy winter's early afternoon as seen from the Lawson convenience store

Stopping at a Lawson convenience store to purchase some light bites and beverages

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on the way to the Shirouma Onsen

About to turn towards the road leading to the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

After a short road journey of just 25 minutes from our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba, we finally arrived at the main entrance to Shirouma Onsen at 11.40 a.m.. Taking our necessary belongings from the car, we headed to the onsen entrance and headed over to the onsen reception counter. At the onsen reception counter, the owner, who was a middle-aged gentleman, warmly welcomed us and showed us to the shoe container room, where we could store our footwear while in the onsen.

Once we had stored our footwear in the onsen's shoe container room, the owner provided us the key to our private onsen room, and escorted us down the staircase to the private onsen room area, eventually arriving there at 11.45 a.m.. Entering our private onsen room, he informed us that complimentary champagne had been brought in for us, and reminded us to return the key to the main onsen reception counter once we were done with our private onsen relaxations at the Shirouma Onsen.

With the owner leaving us to enjoy our private onsen relaxations, we stored our belongings and changed into our swimming attire for the onsen relaxations. Soon enough, early that afternoon, we had a relaxing family time at our private onsen room at the Shirouma Onsen. The onsen was quite decent to our tastes, but it does not beat the Otaru Asarigawa Onsen in Otaru, Hokkaido. However, Otaru Asarigawa Onsen suffered a major fire on 4 December 2014, resulting in the entire building being burnt down. The re-construction works have only recently begun, with the entire complex expected to be re-open in 2016.

Walking through the passageway to the downward staircase leading to our private onsen room at the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

The view of the hot spring (onsen) bath area in our private onsen room at the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

The interior of the living room area in our private onsen room at the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

After having an enjoyable private onsen relaxations for approximately two hours, the clock was finally showing 1.45 p.m.. Since we had ended our relaxations 15 minutes early, we all changed back into our attire and packed away our belongings, checking to see that nothing was left unpacked in the private onsen relaxation room. Exiting from the private onsen room, we locked the door and went back up to the main reception counter to return the key before claiming our footwear from the shoe container room.

Exiting the onsen building, we headed to our rented black Nissan car and loaded our stuff in before getting on board. Once everything was loaded into our rented car, we finally departed the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉) at 2.10 p.m. for a driving exploration around Hakuba. Along the way, we stopped at a few cafeterias and small shopping marts to see whether there was anything interesting to us before driving back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba through some snowfall around the village.

The interior of the main entrance lobby at the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉) on a cloudy winter's afternoon

The main car parking area located outside the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉) on a cloudy winter's afternoon

The exterior of the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉) hot spring bathhouse on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Our rented black Nissan car parked at the car parking area near the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

Finally departing the Shirouma Onsen (白馬温泉)

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on the way to the village centre

Hakuba Station coming into view on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of the sparse, rural and popular ski village of Hakuba on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Stopping at an Aeon Big Department Store in the sparse, rural and popular skiing village of Hakuba

About to turn to the main roads of Hakuba again

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba close to the Oito Line tracks

Travelling along the roads of Hakuba in the village centre with some signs of snowfall

Travelling along the roads of Hakuba by some houses on the way back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba on the way back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

About to turn to the roads leading to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Finally arriving back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

The living room area in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we returned

After exploring and driving around the popular and sparse, rural ski village of Hakuba for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, we finally arrived back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 3.40 p.m.. Parking our car just outside our chalet, we went to the door and unlocked it, entering the chalet at 3.45 p.m.. In the chalet, we were simply left to our own electronic devices for our entertainment and company as there was nothing left to do for the rest of the afternoon.

Later that night, my parents managed to cook up a sumptuous home-made barbecue dinner for us, which we enjoyed a lot. Once dinner was finished, we had a nice, hot shower before changing up into our pyjamas for the night. Since I was to undertake a shopping journey to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) the next morning, I set my mobile phone alarm to five o' clock. Preparing my necessary belongings before next morning's journey, I finally turned in for a well-earned good night's rest by 10.30 p.m. later that night.

Part 3 ~ My First Day Of Shopping At Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The next morning, which was Saturday (13 December), I woke up at precisely five o' clock after my mobile phone alarm went off early. Getting up quietly, I went to have a nice, hot shower and changed into my attire for the day before heading over to prepare the remainder of my necessary belongings for the day. Based on my Japanese railway itineraries, I was to undertake my first Christmas shopping trip to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) on this day.

For the morning in-bound journey to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), I would catch the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 514 bound for Tokyo, which would be scheduled to depart Nagano Station at nine o' clock, and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 10.32 a.m.. After arrival at Tokyo, I would change to a Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line Rapid Service train bound for Higashi-kanagawa, which would depart Tokyo Station at 10.43 a.m., and arrive at Hamamatsucho Station at 10.47 a.m..

Upon arrival at Hamamatsucho Station, I would immediately connect to the closest Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), which would be expected to depart Hamamatsucho Station at eleven o' clock, and arrive at the Haneda Airport Terminal 2 terminal station. I was lucky since I had made my advanced seat reservations at Nagano Station a couple of days earlier. With everything prepared, I made myself a nice, warm mug of hot Milo while waiting for my dad to wake up.

The living room area in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after I woke up

A nice, warm mug of hot Milo for myself before my early morning trip to Nagano Station

After having a nice, warm mug of hot Milo, my dad was finally awake at 5.30 a.m.. Having a quick wash-up, he changed into his attire and offered to give me a lift to Nagano Station. Since I was all prepared to go, we put on our boots and headed to our black rented Nissan car, which was entirely covered in snow. Once we had removed all the snow from the car, I loaded everything into the rear of the car and boarded for the very snowy pre-dawn early morning drive to Nagano Station.

Soon enough, once we had cleared and loaded everything, we finally departed our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at six o' clock for a very snowy pre-dawn early morning road journey of 1 hour 05 minutes to Nagano Station located in the mid-sized urban city of Nagano. By this time, a very heavy pre-dawn early morning snowstorm was raging across the entire village of Hakuba, which made the roads very slippery to drive on, with dawn breaking mid-way through the journey to Nagano.

Our rented black Nissan car parked just outside our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba and covered in snow

Travelling along the snowy and slippery roads of Hakuba close to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba as we begin our pre-dawn early morning road journey to Nagano

About to turn the road leading to the village centre of Hakuba during the pre-dawn early morning snowstorm

Travelling along the roads of Hakuba through a heavily-raging pre-dawn snowstorm

About to turn to the road leading to Nagano due to the direct flyover expressway to Nagano being closed for repairs during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Travelling along the snowy and windy roads between the villages of Hakuba and Ogawa just before the first sights of dawn

The first signs of dawn breaking over the sparse, rural village of Ogawa

Travelling along the roads near the sparse, rural village of Ogawa as dawn breaks over the village

Travelling past a rural settlement area covered in snow in the sparse, rural village of Ogawa during dawn

Approaching the long road tunnel leading to the Nagano-Hakuba toll gate in the early morning

Approaching the Nagano-Hakuba road toll gate in the early morning

Travelling along the windy roads near Nagano shortly after bypassing the Nagano-Hakuba toll gate

Bypassing the Shinano River close to Nagano

The first lights of sunrise breaking over Nagano as we approach the city area

Crossing the Shinano River into downtown Nagano during the early morning hours

Finally arriving at the multi-storey car parking area near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

After a short early morning road journey of 1 hour 05 minutes from The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba, we finally arrived at the multi-storey car parking area near the South Entrance to Nagano Station at 7.05 a.m.. Claiming my belongings for the car, I thanked my dad for the lift, and he advised me to take care at all times. Leaving me at the multi-storey car parking area to commence my journey, I quickly headed over to the South Entrance to Nagano Station.

Arriving at the South Entrance to Nagano Station, I immediately took the escalators up to the Nagano Shinkansen concourse of the station, eventually arriving there by 7.10 a.m.. In the Nagano Shinkansen concourse itself, I quickly went to check to see which platform the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 514 bound for Tokyo would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 514 bound for Tokyo would depart at nine o' clock from Track No. 14.

However, knowing that the wait would be a bit too cold and long, I suddenly had a change of plans and decided to catch an earlier train. With that, I headed over to the JR Ticket Office and did the necessary changes to my seat reservations. For the new in-bound trip to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), I would catch the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, which would depart Nagano Station at 7.40 a.m., and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 9.08 a.m..

Upon arrival at Tokyo Station, I would quickly change to a Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local train bound for Kamata, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 9.31 a.m., and arrive at Hamamatsucho Station at 9.37 a.m.. After arrival at Hamamatsucho Station, I was to connect to a Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train, which would be scheduled to depart Hamamatsucho Station at ten o' clock, and arrive at the Haneda Airport Terminal 2 terminal station at 10.19 a.m..

Once all the necessary changes were made, I immediately went to see which platform the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo would be scheduled to depart at 7.40 a.m. from Track No. 13. With that, I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed Shinkansen ticketing gate, and took the elevators down to Tracks No. 13 and 14 at 7.15 a.m. in preparation for the early morning journey to Tokyo.

ASAMA (あさま) is a high-speed Shinkansen train service operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Tokyo and Nagano via the Nagano Shinkansen line in Japan. It is currently the only high-speed Shinkansen service operating on the Nagano Shinkansen (Hokuriku Shinkansen) line, with the fastest journey duration between Tokyo and Nagano taking 1 hour 20 minutes only. The service is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph).

The service commenced operations on 1 October 1997, in collaboration with the opening of the Nagano Shinkansen line from Tokyo to Nagano, using a fleet of 8-car E2 series sets at a maximum top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph). These sets sport pearl white for the upper body and navy blue for the lower body, separated by a bright red stripe and a blue and pink wing-shaped logo. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in Car No. 7. From the start of the revised timetable on 10 December 2005, all ASAMA services became non-smoking.

From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2014, new 12-car E7 series sets were introduced on these services at a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph), just like the existing 8-car E2 series sets, allowing Gran Class accommodation to be introduced in Car No. 12, but without dedicated attendant seat service, and Green Car (first class) accommodation in Car No. 11 on certain services. Initially, the 12-car E7 series sets operated on seven daily return workings, but this was later increased to 21 daily return workings from 8 November 2014.

From the start of the revised timetable on 14 March 2015, with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line from Nagano to Kanazawa, the ASAMA service will continue to be used for services between Tokyo and Nagano. Some services will continue to be operated by the existing 8-car E2 series sets. There are no extra charges for the ASAMA service for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass. However, the use of Gran Class accommodation requires the payments of the Shinkansen express charge and Gran Class surcharge.

The Nagano Shinkansen (長野新幹線) is a Japanese high-speed Shinkansen railway line operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Tokyo and Nagano in Japan. The line is jointly shared by the Tohoku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Omiya, and with the Joetsu Shinkansen line between Omiya and Takasaki, before eventually branching off from Takasaki Station. The line forms the first stage of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, operating at a maximum top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph). As of 15 March 2014, the 8-car E2 series sets and 12-car E7 series sets operate on the ASAMA services at speeds of 260 km/h (160 mph) each.

From the start of the revised timetable on 14 March 2015, with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line linking between Nagano and Kanazawa, three new services, KAGAYAKI, HAKUTAKA and TSURUGI will be introduced, with the TSURUGI service functioning as a shuttle service between Toyama and Kanazawa for travellers arriving from Osaka or Nagoya via Thunderbird or Shirasagi limited express services. New 12-car E7 series and W7 series sets will operate on the line at 260 km/h (160 mph) each, with the existing 8-car E2 series sets also retained on the existing ASAMA services as far as Nagano. The line will be jointly operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) beyond Joetsu-myoko Station.

Walking along the streets of downtown Nagano in the direction to the South Side of Nagano Station

Finally arriving at the South Entrance to Nagano Station

The South Entrance to Nagano Station undergoing renovations in preparation for the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Nagano and Kanazawa on 14 March 2015

The interior of the main station concourse of Nagano Station on a snowy early winter's morning

Finally arriving at the JR Ticket Office in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse at Nagano Station during the early morning hours

The interior of the JR Ticket Office located in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Nagano Station during the early morning hours

The Nagano Shinkansen ticketing gates at Nagano Station during the early morning hours

The departure information board in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse at Nagano Station during the early morning hours

The Nagano Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Nagano Station during the early morning hours

The overall view of the Nagano Shinkansen platforms at Nagano Station during the early morning hours

The departure information board for Nagano Shinkansen trains departing from Track No. 13 at Nagano Station

Overlooking the soon-to-be-open Hokuriku Shinkansen line in the direction to Toyama and Kanazawa from Tracks No. 13 and 14 at Nagano Station on a snowy early winter's morning

The station name plate on Tracks No. 13 and 14 at Nagano Station

Track No. 13 at Nagano Station shortly before the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo arrived at the station

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platforms, an 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, finally entered Nagano Station at 7.30 a.m. on Track No. 13. Once the train doors were finally opened, I immediately boarded the train via Car No. 6 and went into Car No. 7, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, before settling into my assigned Seat No. 8D for the early morning journey of 1 hour 28 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat next to me, 8C, would remain vacant for the whole morning journey from Nagano to Tokyo. Once the clock struck exactly 7.40 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 508 finally pulled out of Nagano Station for its short morning journey of just 1 hour 28 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo located in the Kanto region. I was then on my way for a short early afternoon journey of 1 hour 28 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital of Japan.

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま508号 東京行き 長野駅に入線シーン

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 13 at Nagano Station

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 13 at Nagano Station. I remember riding on this particular train as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 515 between Tokyo and Nagano in June 2014

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 13 at Nagano Station

A view of my seat, 8D, during the boarding process on Track No. 13 at Nagano Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 13 at Nagano Station

Awaiting departure from Nagano Station

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま508号 東京行き 長野駅から上田駅間

Making a brief stop at Ueda Station

Bypassing a power plant located in the suburban city of Ueda shortly after departing Ueda Station

My Green Car (first class) Shinkansen ticket for the in-bound segment between Nagano and Tokyo

A view of my seat, 8D, between Ueda and Sakudaira Stations

Bypassing a dry and leafless forest in the suburban city of Saku

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo

A box of Jagariko potato sticks (じゃがりこ) and a small bottle of Coca-cola and water for myself purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service

Passing through Sakudaira Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, between Sakudaira and Karuizawa Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, between Sakudaira and Karuizawa Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Sakudaira and Karuizawa Stations

Bypassing some dry and leafless forests near the suburban skiing town of Karuizawa

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま508号 東京行き 軽井沢 (通過) ~ 高崎 (通過)

Bypassing some small housing areas by a forest in the suburban city of Takasaki

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま508号 東京行き 本庄早稲田 (通過) ~ 熊谷 (通過)

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Okegawa

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Kitamoto

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 508 bound for Tokyo, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

A view of my seat, 8D, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

Intersecting with the Tohoku Shinkansen tracks near Omiya Station

Making a brief stop at Omiya Station

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま508号 東京行き 大宮駅から上野駅間

Making a brief stop at Ueno Station

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま508号 東京行き 上野駅から終点東京駅間

After a short early morning journey duration of 1 hour 28 minutes from the mid-sized urban city of Nagano in the Shin'etsu region, I finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 9.08 a.m. on Track No. 21. Checking to see that I had left nothing behind on board, I alighted the train and immediately took the escalator down to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of the station before eventually heading over to the JR Line interchange ticketing gates located nearby.

Arriving at the JR Line interchange ticket gates, I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticket gate before entering concourse at 8.15 a.m.. In the JR Line concourse itself, I went to check the train departure information board to see which platform the closest Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local train bound for Kamata would depart from. According to the departure information board, the nearest Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local train bound for Kamata was expected depart at 9.31 a.m. from Track No. 6. Without wasting anymore time, I rushed via the concourse and headed up to Tracks No. 5 and 6 for the trip to Hamamatsucho. 

Tokyo Station (東京駅) is a major railway terminal located in the very heart of the bustling Marunouchi business district in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is the central railway terminal serving the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo, and serves as the starting point for Japan's flagship high-speed Shinkansen trains. The station underwent a major renovation programme from mid-2007 and late 2012, and the renovations were finally completed in October 2012 with the re-opening of the old Marunouchi station building. The station also houses a Daimaru Department Store directly above its station complex.

Other than serving most of Japan's national flagship high-speed Shinkansen lines, Tokyo serves as a terminus for the Chuo Main Line, Tokaido Main Line, Sobu Main Line, Yokosuka Line and Keiyo Line. The station also serves as a major transfer station for the Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line and the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. Tokyo also serves as a starting point for most limited express trains bound for the Boso and Izu Peninsulas, and as a mandatory stopping point for the Narita Express limited express service linking to Narita International Airport in neighbouring Chiba Prefecture.

Tracks No. 20 and 21 serving some of the Tohoku, Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station on a bright winter's morning

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 511 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station

Two E2 Series Shinkansen trains side by side on Tracks No. 21 and 22 at Tokyo Station on a bright winter's morning

The 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 511 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station

A 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U21 coupled with a 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z18, operating as the Shinkansen "NASUNO" Superexpress No. 255 bound for Koriyama, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

The JR Line interchange concourse of Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The passageway leading to the Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line and Yamanote Line platforms at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

Finally on Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Tokyo Station

The departure information board for Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line trains departing from Track No. 6 at Tokyo Station

Tracks No. 5 and 6 serving the Yamanote Line Outer Loop trains and Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line trains bound for Ofuna via Yokohama at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

After spending nearly five minutes of anticipated waiting on the platforms, a 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 9.31 a.m. Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local service bound for Kamata, finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 9.31 a.m. on Track No. 6. Once the train doors were opened, I quickly boarded the train for the short early morning rush trip of six minutes to Hamamatsucho Station located in the very lively adjacent hustle and bustle of downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo.

Soon enough, within a few seconds, all the train doors were closed, and the Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local train finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for the remainder of its short and quick early morning rush journey of 1 hour 07 minutes linking between Omiya and Kamata. I was then on my way for a very short and quick early morning rush journey duration of just six minutes to Hamamatsucho Station located in the very lively adjacent hustle and bustle of downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo.

Hamamatsucho Station (浜松町駅) is a railway station serving the Hamamatsucho district located in downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. The station serves as an interchange station for both the Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line and Yamanote Line via cross-platform interchange, and as the northern terminus for the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line linking downtown Tokyo with Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). The Tokaido Main Line and Tokaido Shinkansen pass through the side of the station below the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line tracks without stopping.

A 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 9.31 a.m. Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local service bound for Kamata, finally arriving at Track No. 6 at Tokyo Station

Finally departing Tokyo Station

The interior of the 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 9.31 a.m. Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line local service bound for Kamata, between Tokyo and Yurakucho Stations

Making a brief stop at Yurakucho Station

Bypassing some office infrastructure in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, between Yurakucho and Shimbashi Stations on a bright winter's morning

Making a brief stop at Shimbashi Station

Bypassing some downtown infrastructure in downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo, as the train approaches Hamamatsucho Station

Finally arriving at Hamamatsucho Station

After a short early morning rush journey of just six minutes from Tokyo Station located in the lively hustle and bustle of the Marunouchi business district in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived at Hamamatsucho Station at 9.37 a.m. on Track No. 4. Grabbing everything with me, I alighted from the train and took the escalators up to the main station concourse, eventually arriving there by 9.40 a.m.. Heading to the Tokyo Monorail interchange ticketing gates, I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate and entered the concourse at 9.45 a.m..

I then went to check the departure information board to check the next departure time of the closest Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). According to the train departure information board, the next Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) would be scheduled to depart at ten o' clock. Without wasting anymore time, I immediately took the escalators up to the departure platform at 9.50 a.m. in preparation for my final segment for the in-bound trip to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

The Tokyo Monorail (東京モノレール) is a dedicated straddle-beam monorail line linking between Hamamatsucho located in downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo, and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in Ota-ku, Tokyo, via the coastline of Tokyo Bay in Japan. With a daily ridership of approximately 300,000 passengers, it is the busiest and most profitable monorail line in the world, and the fastest and most scenic mode of transportation between downtown Tokyo and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

The monorail line was opened for service on 17 September 1964, in collaboration with the 1964 Summer Olympic Games. As of 1 October 2014, the 6-car 1000 series, 2000 series and 10000 series EMUs operate on the Haneda Express (空港快速; Airport Express), Rapid (区間快速; Rapid Transit) and Local (普通) services at top speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph), with the Haneda Express trains linking between Hamamatsucho Station and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in 20 minutes, and observation cab cars in Cars No. 1 and 6.

On 18 March 2007, a passing loop was opened at Showajima Station, eventually allowing Haneda Express services to commence. During the daylight hours, most local services call at Showajima Station for about two minutes to allow faster Haneda Express services to pass through. On 21 October 2010, with the opening of the new International Terminal at Haneda Airport, the Tokyo Monorail became free of charge for Japan Rail Pass holders. A train ticket from Hamamatsucho to Haneda Airport costs ¥490 (S$5.98) each way.

Tracks No. 3 and 4 serving the Yamanote Line Outer Loop trains and Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line trains bound for Ofuna at Hamamatsucho Station during the early morning rush hour

The JR Line concourse leading to the platforms at Hamamatsucho Station during the early morning rush hour

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line interchange ticketing gates at Hamamatsucho Station during the early morning rush hour

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line concourse of Hamamatsucho Station during the early morning rush hour

The departure information board on the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line platforms at Hamamatsucho Station

A 6-car Tokyo Monorail 2000 series EMU, operating as the 9.52 a.m. "Rapid Service" bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), at Hamamatsucho Station

A 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, operating as the 9.56 a.m. local service bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), at Hamamatsucho Station

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line platforms at Hamamatsucho Station shortly before the ten o' clock "Haneda Express" train arrived at the station

After spending nearly 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on the departure platform, a 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, painted in the special Pokémon Monorail livery, finally arrived at Hamamatsucho Station at 9.57 a.m.. The train had initially arrived from Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) as a Rapid Service train bound for Hamamatsucho, and was to become the ten o' clock Haneda Express service bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). Once the train doors were opened, I boarded the train via Car No. 6 at the Haneda Airport end, and secured a middle row front observation seat located by the driver's cab.

Once the clock struck exactly ten o' clock sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train finally pulled out of Hamamatsucho Station for its short and routine morning journey duration of 19 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in the suburban outskirts of Ota-ku, Tokyo. I was then on my way for a short and routine morning journey of just 19 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) located in the suburban outskirts of downtown Ota-ku, Tokyo.

Tokyo International Airport (東京国際空港), most commonly known as Haneda Airport (羽田空港), is one of the two major airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area in Japan. Located in Ota-ku, Tokyo, it is the busiest airport and largest domestic airport in Japan in terms of the number of passengers passing through the airport annually. Haneda Airport is classified as a first-class airport under national Japanese law, and serves as a major hub for All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Skymark Airlines and Solaseed Air.

The airport was opened on 25 August 1931 and served as the sole international gateway to the Greater Tokyo Area until Narita International Airport was opened on 20 May 1978 in the suburban city of Narita in neighbouring Chiba Prefecture. Between 1978 and 2010, Haneda Airport mostly catered to domestic flights, though limited international charter flights to Hong Kong, Mainland China and South Korea were introduced gradually from 29 November 2003, with a smaller and isolated temporary international terminal.

On 21 October 2010, a new and larger international terminal was opened, together with an additional runway, allowing Haneda Airport to cater to regular international flights during the early morning and late night hours, resulting in competition with Narita International Airport. However, following a number of user complaints due to lack of facilities during the late night hours, a major expansion was planned. From 31 March 2014, regular daytime international operations and a new boarding concourse with eight boarding gates were introduced.

A hotel located adjacent to the International Terminal, known as the Royal Park Hotel The Haneda, was opened on 30 September 2014. Together with the limousine buses and cabs, Haneda Airport is easily accessible from downtown Tokyo via the Tokyo Monorail linking to Hamamatsucho Station, which can be used by Japan Rail Pass holders free of charge. The airport is also served by the Keihin Kyuko Line, which provides access to the major port city of Yokohama, with some trains going as far as the Toei Asakusa Line and Keisei Lines.

東京モノレール1000形 (1048F-1043F) 空港快速 東京国際空港行き 浜松町駅に入線シーン

The interior of the 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, operating as the ten o' clock "Haneda Express" service bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), during the boarding process at Hamamatsucho Station

The service type information placard above the train doors of the 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, operating as the ten o' clock "Haneda Express" service bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), during the boarding process at Hamamatsucho Station

Awaiting departure from Hamamatsucho Station

東京モノレール1000形 (1048F) 空港快速 東京国際空港行き 浜松町駅から羽田空港第2ビル駅間

After a short morning journey duration of just 19 minutes from Hamamatsucho located in the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Haneda Airport Terminal 2 terminal station at 10.19 a.m. on Track No. 2. Checking to see that I did not leave anything behind, I alighted the train and took the escalator up to the main station concourse. Showing my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate, I promptly decided to stop over at Domestic Terminal 1 first for some model aircraft-searching.

Without wasting anymore time, I grabbed my belongings and promptly headed down to the underground passageway linking both Domestic Terminals 1 and 3 together with each other, bypassing Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal Station along the way. Soon enough, I finally arrived at the first basement of Domestic Terminal 1 at 10.35 a.m.. Taking the escalators up to the first level, I decided to look through the shops very carefully first before selecting the one that would cater to my needs the most.

Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station (羽田空港第2ビル駅) is an underground monorail station located in Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in Ota-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Opened on 1 December 2004, the station is located directly below Domestic Terminal 2, and serves as the southwestern terminus for the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line, which connects the airport with Hamamatsucho Station in Minato-ku, Tokyo. As of 1 December 2014, there are two island platforms, with Tracks No. 1 and 2 used for passenger service and the additional island platform used for seasonal events only.

The 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, painted in the special "Pokémon Monorail" livery and now operating as the 10.23 a.m. "Rapid Service" bound for Hamamatsucho, on Track No. 2 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line platforms at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-morning hours

The ticketing gates in the main station concourse at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-morning hours

The main ticketing concourse at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-morning hours

The information center located just adjacent to Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-morning hours

Walking down the escalator to the underground passageway linking between Domestic Terminals 1 and 2 at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Bypassing Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal Station along the way to Domestic Terminal 1 via the underground passageway linking between Domestic Terminals 1 and 2

The interior of the underground intra-domestic terminal passageway linking between Domestic Terminals 1 and 2 at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) during the mid-morning hours

The information center located just adjacent to Haneda Airport Terminal 1 Station during the mid-morning hours

Gazing up at the upper floors of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1 from the first basement level

The first basement level of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1 during the mid-morning hours

Finally stumbling upon JALUX Blue Sky Shop again in the first level of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1

After looking through the many shops located on the first level of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1, I finally stumbled upon a notable hobby shop, known as JALUX Blue Sky Shop, at 10.40 a.m.. I was very familiar with this particular hobby shop since I had patronised this shop many times during my previous visits to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). Entering the shop, I looked through the various aircraft models for sale very carefully before making my selections.

At JALUX Blue Sky Shop itself, I managed to purchased four new Herpa Wings Scale 1:500 commercial aircraft models. Upon purchasing my new aircraft models, the clock was finally showing 10.45 a.m.. Deciding to stop over at the International Terminal as the next stop, I headed out to the free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus stop, where a white and green free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus was already waiting to take passengers to the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

Without wasting anymore time, I immediately boarded the bus and secured a seat located at the front of the cabin for the short intra-airport terminal journey to the International Terminal. Once the clock struck around 10.50 a.m. sharp, all the bus doors were closed, and the free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus finally departed Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1 for its short shuttle journey of not more than approximately five minutes to the International Terminal.

As for the four new Herpa Wings Scale 1:500 commercial aircraft models I had purchased, they were, as follows:

1) Aeroflot ー Russian Airlines Boeing 777-3M0/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (526364)

Aeroflot ー Russian Airlines Boeing 777-3M0/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (526364)

2) Alitalia Boeing 777-243/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (526258)

Alitalia Boeing 777-243/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (526258)

3) KLM ー Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777-306/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (506281-001)

KLM ー Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777-306/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (506281-001)

4) Royal Jordanian Airlines Airbus A340-211 Herpa Scale 1:500 (520799)

Royal Jordanian Airlines Airbus A340-211 Herpa Scale 1:500 (520799)

The Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) intra-terminal free shuttle bus stand located outside Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1

The free inter-terminal shuttle bus linking between the domestic terminals and the International Terminal finally arriving at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1

The interior of the free inter-terminal shuttle bus linking between the domestic terminals and the International Passenger Flight Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) at Domestic Terminal 1

Finally departing Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 1

Travelling past a bus bay located near the two domestic terminals at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Several aircraft of the local carriers near the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Going around the bend to the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Finally arriving at the International Passenger Flight Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

After a short free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus ride of approximately five minutes from Domestic Terminal 1, I finally arrived at the curb side of the International Terminal at 10.55 a.m.. Checking to see that I had not left anything behind, I alighted the bus and proceeded into the terminal building and took the elevator up to the third level, where the international departures & check-in hall was located. Since I still had plenty of time left, I decided to do some plane-spotting at the open-air observation deck first.

With that, I took the escalator up to the fourth floor and changed to another set of escalators to the fifth floor, eventually arriving there at eleven o' clock. On the fifth floor itself, I quickly headed out to the open-air observation deck and did my usual aircraft-spotting activities in a very enthusiastic manner. As this was one of my most favourite spots at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), it was pleasant to be spotting several aircraft there, especially on a bright winter's early afternoon.

The free inter-terminal shuttle bus stop at the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The international departure and arrival flight information screens in the first level of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The interior of the bus and car rental area on the first level of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The international departures and check-in area in the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) during the early afternoon hours

Overlooking the international departures and check-in area from the fourth floor of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) during the early afternoon hours

The interior of the open-air mini-theatre on the fourth floor of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The interior of the fifth level in the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

A Japan Airlines Boeing 777-246/ER, registered JA709J, about to taxi to her assigned runway for her early afternoon journey to the Kingdom of Thailand as Japan Airlines flight JL 031 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

The overall view of the observation deck in the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-881 Dreamliner, registered JA806A, taxiing to Gate No. 109 at the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381/ER, registered JA784A, being serviced at Gate No. 108 at the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in preparation for her long afternoon trans-Siberian journey to the Federal Republic of Germany as All Nippon Airways flight NH 223 bound for Frankfurt

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5, registered HL7573, taxiing to the International Terminal after arriving from her regional morning journey from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 2707 from Seoul (Gimpo)

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381/ER, registered JA786A, being serviced at Gate No. 111 at the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in preparation for her long trans-Siberian afternoon journey to the United Kingdom as All Nippon Airways flight NH 277 bound for London (Heathrow)

The overall tarmac view at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) from the open-air observation deck at the International Terminal on a bright winter's early afternoon

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-281, registered JA8967, taxiing along the tarmac at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The view of three aircraft parked side by side at the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) on a bright winter's early afternoon

After spending approximately 25 minutes of plane-spotting in the open-air observation at the International Terminal, the clock was finally showing 11.25 a.m.. Since I knew that there were some local Japanese sweet treats, such as Royce' chocolates, listed on my Christmas shopping list in preparation for the new school year, I took the escalator back down to the fourth floor and changed to another set of escalators down to the international departures & check-in hall on the third floor.

Knowing that it would not be right to come back to school empty-handed, I looked around the various shops available to see which one would have the most-suited local treats. Soon enough, I finally stumbled upon a local confectionery and duty-free shop, known as ANA Festa, at 11.35 a.m.. Entering the shop, I took a good look at the various local confectionery treats available. At ANA Festa itself, I purchased a total of six boxes of Royce' chocolates in bars, with everything packed in a cool casing.

Upon purchasing the Royce' chocolates, I noticed that my camera batteries were in need of power. With that, I decided to search for a nearby power outlet to charge my electronics and have a short rest, since I was feeling slightly tired from my early morning train journey from Nagano. Finding some power outlets located near the information counter, I promptly took a seat and got out my necessary electronic devices and their chargers to have their batteries charged before resuming my trip around Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

Bypassing the Hakuhinkan Toy Park located on the fifth level of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The international flight arrivals information screen on the fifth floor of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The interior of the open-air mini-theatre on the fourth floor of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) on the way to the third floor

Walking down the escalator from the fourth to the third level of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Finally arriving at the third level of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The international departures and check-in area in the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in the early afternoon

Stopping at ANA Festa in the departures & check-in hall at the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) to buy some Royce' chocolates

Bypassing a few airline check-in counters in the International Terminal departures & check-in hall at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

After spending the early afternoon shopping for Royce' chocolates for the new school year at the International Terminal, the clock was finally showing 12 noon. As I was beginning to feel rather hungry already, I decided to head over to Domestic Terminal 2 for some lunch, knowing that there would be some good and familiar restaurants available. Without wasting anymore time, I packed away my belongings and took the elevator down to the first level, eventually arriving there within a few seconds.

Arriving at the first level, I quickly made my way to the free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus stop, with the free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus arriving at the International Terminal at 12.05 p.m.. With that, I boarded the bus and settled in for the short free intra-airport terminal shuttle bus trip of five minutes to Domestic Terminal 2, departing the International Terminal at 12.10 p.m.. Soon enough, I finally arrived at the bus stop just outside Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2 at 12.15 p.m..

Being sure to check that I had left nothing behind on board, I quickly alighted the bus with my belongings and entered the terminal building. Heading to the closest elevator lobby, I promptly took the elevator up to the fourth floor, where a majority of the restaurants were located. On the fourth floor itself, since I was in the mood for some other types of cuisine, I looked through the various restaurants available on the fourth floor to ensure that I met the one that would suit my tastes and preferences the most.

The international departures and check-in area in the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) shortly before I commenced my journey to Domestic Terminal 2

The interior of the bus and car rental area on the first level of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) in the afternoon

The bus stop and pick-up area outside the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The free inter-terminal shuttle bus linking between the domestic terminals and the International Terminal finally arriving at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) International Terminal

The interior of the free inter-terminal shuttle bus linking between the domestic terminals and the International Passenger Flight Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) at the International Terminal

Finally departing Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) International Terminal

Overlooking the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line piers near Haneda Airport International Terminal Station on the way to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2

The exterior view of the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) as seen from the free inter-terminal airport shuttle bus

Several foreign aircraft parked at the International Passenger Flight Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) on my way towards Domestic Terminal 2

Overlooking the expressway leading towards downtown Tokyo at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Finally arriving at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2

The free inter-terminal shuttle bus linking between the domestic terminals and the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2

The free inter-terminal shuttle bus stop at Domestic Terminal 2 at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Overlooking the other levels from the first floor at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2 on a bright winter's afternoon

Overlooking the departures & check-in hall at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2 from the fourth level

Finally arriving at Don Sabatini Italian Restaurant

After looking carefully through the many restaurants available on the fourth floor of Domestic Terminal 2 in Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), I finally stumbled upon a familiar Italian restaurant, known as Don Sabatini, at 12.20 p.m.. I was very familiar with this place, since I had eaten lunch here previously in June 2013 and June 2014. As I was already very hungry, I promptly entered the restaurant and requested for a non-smoking table for myself, eventually being directed to one by a waiter.

With the menus left on my table, I made my reviews before placing my main meal orders for lunch. Soon enough, a waiter came by to take down my main meal orders for lunch. I placed an order for a platter of assorted sausages, a platter of spaghetti alla carbonara, and a nice and refreshing glass of white wine to accompany my lunch. Soon enough, with all my orders delivered to my table, I had a filling and sumptuous lunch at Don Sabatini Italian Restaurant at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2.

The interior of Don Sabatini Italian Restaurant at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2 during lunchtime hours

Reviewing the food and beverage menus at Don Sabatini Italian Restaurant at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2

A glass of white wine to accompany my lunch

A platter of assorted sausages for myself

A platter of spaghetti alla carbonara for myself

After having a very sumptuous and filling lunch at Don Sabatini Italian Restaurant, the clock was finally showing one o' clock. Since I was feeling stuffed already, I knew that it was now time to be heading back to Nagano after spending two hours of Christmas shopping at the airport. For the mid-afternoon return trip to Nagano, I would catch a Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train, which would be expected to depart Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station at 1.41 p.m., and arrive at the Hamamatsucho terminal station at 2.01 p.m..

Upon arrival at Hamamatsucho, I would catch a Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line Rapid Service train bound for Minami-urawa, which would be scheduled to depart Hamamatsucho Station at 2.39 p.m., and arrive at Tokyo Station at 2.43 p.m.. After arrival at Tokyo, I would have a layover of about 15 minutes before catching the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, which would be expected to depart Tokyo Station at 3.08 p.m., and arrive at the Nagano terminal station at 4.46 p.m..

Without wasting anymore time, I paid up my lunch bill and left the restaurant by 1.05 p.m. for the elevator lobby. Arriving at the elevator lobby, I took the nearest elevator down to the first basement, eventually arriving there by 1.10 p.m.. Heading over to the station concourse at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station, I quickly went to check the departure information board to see what time and which platform number the 1.41 p.m. Haneda Express train bound for Hamamatsucho would depart from.

According to the departure information board in the station concourse, the following Haneda Express train bound for Hamamatsucho after the next one would be scheduled to depart at 1.41 p.m. from Track No. 1. Without wasting anymore time, I went through the staffed ticket gate to show my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer, before I eventually arrived at the station platforms at 1.20 p.m.. I then proceeded to sort out my belongings while waiting for the 1.41 p.m. Haneda Express train bound for Hamamatsucho.

The entrance to Don Sabatini Italian Restaurant shortly before I made my way to Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

Overlooking the departures and check-in hall from the third floor in Domestic Terminal 2 at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) as I begin to make my way back to Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

The interior of the first basement level of Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) Domestic Terminal 2 during the mid-afternoon hours

The main station concourse at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-afternoon hours

The station concourse leading to the platforms at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-afternoon hours

The station platforms of Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station shortly after I had arrived back at the station

A 6-car Tokyo Monorail 2000 series EMU, operating as the 1.23 p.m. "Rapid Service" bound for Hamamatsucho, on Track No. 2 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

The extra island platform used only for special events at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station during the mid-afternoon hours

A 6-car Tokyo Monorail 2000 series EMU, operating as the 1.29 p.m. "Haneda Express" service bound for Hamamatsucho, on Track No. 2 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

A 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, painted in the special "Pokémon Monorail" livery and operating as the 1.35 p.m. "Rapid Service" bound for Hamamatsucho, on Track No. 1 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

Track No. 1 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station shortly before the 1.41 p.m. "Haneda Express" service bound for Hamamatsucho arrived at the station

After spending close to 25 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platforms, a 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU finally arrived at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station at 1.37 p.m. on Track No. 1. The train had initially arrived from Hamamatsucho as a Rapid Service train bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) earlier, and was to become the 1.41 p.m. Haneda Express service bound for Hamamatsucho. With that, I boarded the train via Car No. 1 and secured a middle row seat just near the driver's cab.

Once the clock struck exactly 1.41 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express train finally pulled out of Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station for its short and routine afternoon journey duration of just 20 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Hamamatsucho in downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo. I was then on my way for a short journey duration of just 20 minutes to the very lively hustle and bustle of Hamamatsucho located in the heart of downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo.

東京モノレール1000形 (1037F-1042F) 空港快速 浜松町行き 羽田空港2ビル駅に入線シーン

The interior of the 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, operating as the 1.41 p.m. "Haneda Express" service bound for Hamamatsucho, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

The service type information placard above the train doors of the 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, operating as the 1.41 p.m. "Haneda Express" train service bound for Hamamatsucho, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 at Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

Awaiting departure from Haneda Airport Terminal 2 Station

東京モノレール1000形 (1037F-1042F) 空港快速 浜松町行き 羽田空港2ビル駅から終点浜松町駅間

After a short and quick afternoon journey of just 20 minutes from Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) located in the outskirts of downtown Ota-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Hamamatsucho terminal station at 2.01 p.m.. Checking to see that nothing had been left on board, I alighted the train and took the escalator down to the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line concourse, before proceeding over to the staffed ticketing gate to show my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer.

Exiting the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line concourse, I made my way up the escalator to the JR Line concourse. Knowing that there were some seat reservations to make, I went to the JR Ticket Office to make my necessary seating arrangements. Wanting to go out to Kansai International Airport on Sunday (21 December) via the fastest NOZOMI service on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, though I could not use it with the Japan Rail Pass, I made the necessary payments via my mum's special permission to use my credit card.

Upon making my reservations, I quickly went to the ticket gates to see which platform the nearest Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line Rapid Service train bound for Minami-urawa would depart from. According to the train departure information board, the nearest Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line Rapid Service train bound for Minami-urawa would depart at 2.39 p.m. from Track No. 1. With that, I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticket gate and took the elevator down to Tracks No. 1 and 2 for the short trip to Tokyo Station.

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line arrival platform at Hamamatsucho Station during the mid-afternoon hours

The 6-car Tokyo Monorail 1000 series EMU, now operating as the 2.04 p.m. "Rapid Service" bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), departing Hamamatsucho Station

The two Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line rolling stocks near Hamamatsucho Station on a bright winter's afternoon

A 6-car Tokyo Monorail 2000 series EMU, which would soon operate as the 2.08 p.m. local service bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), approaching Hamamatsucho Station

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line concourse at Hamamatsucho Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The Tokyo Monorail Haneda Airport Line ticketing gates at Hamamatsucho Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The staircase and escalators linking between the Tokyo Monorail and JR Line concourses at Hamamatsucho Station

The JR Line concourse at Hamamatsucho Station during the mid-afternoon hours

Stopping at the JR Ticket Office to make some seat reservations in the JR Line concourse at Hamamatsucho Station

The JR Line ticketing gates at Hamamatsucho Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line and Yamanote Line Inner Loop trains towards Tokyo, Ueno and Omiya during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Track No. 1 at Hamamatsucho Station shortly before the 2.39 p.m. Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line "Rapid Service" train bound for Minami-urawa arrived at the station

After spending just five minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 1 and 2, a 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 2.39 p.m. Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line Rapid Service bound for Minami-urawa, finally arrived at Hamamatsucho Station at 2.39 p.m. on Track No. 1. Once the train doors were opened, I immediately boarded the train for the short hop of about four minutes to Tokyo Station located in the adjacent lively hustle and bustle of the Marunouchi business district in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

Soon enough, in just a few seconds, all the train doors were closed, and the Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line Rapid Service train finally pulled out of Hamamatsucho Station for the second half of its mid-afternoon commuter journey duration of 1 hour 22 minutes between Isogo and Minami-urawa. I was then on my way for a short and quick mid-afternoon journey duration of just four minutes to Tokyo Station located in the heart of the very lively hustle and bustle of the Marunouchi business district in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

A 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 2.39 p.m. Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line "Rapid Service" bound for Minami-urawa, finally arriving at Hamamatsucho Station on Track No. 1

Finally departing at Hamamatsucho Station

Bypassing some downtown infrastructure in the Yurakucho business district in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, while running parallel to the Tokaido Shinkansen tracks

Passing through Yurakucho Station

Bypassing some downtown infrastructure in the Marunouchi business district as the train approaches Tokyo Station

Finally arriving at Tokyo Station

After a short mid-afternoon journey duration of just four minutes from Hamamatsucho in the adjacent lively hustle and bustle of downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 2.43 p.m. on Track No. 3. Alighting from the crowded train with my belongings, I proceeded down the escalators and quickly made my way to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse, eventually arriving there by 2.45 p.m.. I then showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate before entering the concourse itself.

In the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse itself, I went to check the departure information board to see which platform number the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano would be expected to depart at 3.08 p.m. from Track No. 22. Since that I had less than 10 minutes left, I quickly took the escalators up to Tracks No. 22 and 23 in preparation for the return trip to Nagano.

Tracks No. 3 and 4 serving the Yamanote Line Inner Loop trains and the Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line trains bound for Ueno and Omiya at Tokyo Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The JR Line concourse of Tokyo Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

An out-of-service 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J8 on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The departure information board for Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen trains departing from Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

Tracks No. 22 and 23 serving some of the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Track No. 22 shortly before the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano arrived at the station

After spending approximately five minutes of anticipated waiting on the platforms, an 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10 finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 2.56 p.m. on Track No. 20. The train had initially arrived from Nagano as the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 526 bound for Tokyo earlier, and was to undergo extensive cleaning prior to becoming the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano. The entire cleaning process took less than 10 minutes.

Once the entire cleaning process was completed, the train doors were opened again at 3.05 p.m., allowing the passengers to board the train for their late afternoon journeys. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 7, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 7A for the short late afternoon journey duration of 1 hour 38 minutes to the mid-sized suburban city of Nagano located in the Shin'etsu region of the country.

The seat next to me, 7B, would remain vacant for the early afternoon return journey from Tokyo to Nagano. Once the clock struck exactly 3.08 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 529 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its short evening journey of 1 hour 38 minutes to the mid-sized suburban city of Nagano in the Shin'etsu region. I was then on my way for a short late afternoon return journey of 1 hour 38 minutes back to the mid-sized suburban city of Nagano.

E2系新幹線 N10編成 あさま529号 長野行き 東京駅に入線シーン

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, during the boarding process on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, during the boarding process on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

A view of my seat, 7A, during the boarding process on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

Awaiting departure from Tokyo Station

E2系新幹線 N10編成 あさま529号 長野行き 東京駅から上野駅間

Making a brief stop at Ueno Station

Bypassing some downtown infrastructure in downtown Taito-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's late afternoon

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, from my seat between Ueno and Omiya Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, between Ueno and Omiya Stations

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano

A box of Jagariko potato sticks (じゃがりこ) and a small bottle of Coca-cola and water for myself purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, between Ueno and Omiya Stations

A view of my seat, 7A, between Ueno and Omiya Stations

Bypassing some downtown infrastructure in downtown Omiya-ku, Saitama, as the train approaches Omiya Station

Making a brief stop at Omiya Station

Finally diverging away from the Tohoku Shinkansen tracks

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Okegawa

E2系新幹線 N10編成 あさま529号 長野行き 熊谷 (通過) ~ 本庄早稲田 (通過)

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, from my seat between Honjo-waseda and Takasaki Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban town of Kamikawa

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Fujioka

My Green Car (first class) Shinkansen ticket for the return segment from Tokyo to Nagano

Making a brief stop at Takasaki Station

E2系新幹線 N10編成 あさま529号 長野行き 高崎駅から軽井沢駅間

Making a brief stop at Karuizawa Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban skiing town of Karuizawa

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, between Karuizawa and Sakudaira Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, between Karuizawa and Sakudaira Stations

A view of my seat, 7A, between Karuizawa and Sakudaira Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, from my seat between Karuizawa and Sakudaira Stations

Bypassing some dry and leafless forests near the suburban city of Saku

Making a brief stop at Sakudaira Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Saku

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, between Sakudaira and Ueda Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, between Sakudaira and Ueda Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 529 bound for Nagano, from my seat between Sakudaira and Ueda Stations

A view of my seat, 7A, between Sakudaira and Ueda Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Ueda as the train approaches Ueda Station

Making a brief stop at Ueda Station

E2系新幹線 N10編成 あさま529号 長野行き 上田駅から終点長野駅間

After a short mid-afternoon journey duration of 1 hour 38 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo, I finally arrived back at the Nagano terminal station at 4.46 p.m. on Track No. 12. Checking to see that I did not leave anything behind on board, I alighted the train and took the escalator up to the main station concourse. Reaching the Shinkansen ticketing gates, I promptly showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate, entering the Nagano Shinkansen ticketing concourse at 4.55 p.m..

In the Nagano Shinkansen concourse, I immediately rung up my family to inform them that I had just arrived back. Informing me to meet them near the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of the station, I immediately proceeded through the JR Line concourse and took the elevator down to the South Exit of the station. Leaving the station building at five o' clock, I walked across the streets of downtown Nagano through the snowfall leading to the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of Nagano Station.

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving some of the Nagano Shinkansen trains bound for Tokyo at Nagano Station during an early evening snowfall. This platform will be used for the future Hokuriku Shinkansen trains bound for Toyama and Kanazawa when the line opens for passenger service on 14 March 2015

An out-of-service 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F7 on Track No. 11 at Nagano Station

The 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 542 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 12 at Nagano Station

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N10, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 542 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Nagano Station

The Nagano Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Nagano Station during the early evening hours

The Nagano Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Nagano Station during the early evening hours

The interior of the main station concourse of Nagano Station during the early evening hours

Bypassing a Midori Department Store in the main station concourse of Nagano Station during the early evening hours

The cab stands located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

Bypassing a restaurant located near the South Entrance to Nagano Station

Walking along the streets of downtown Nagano in the direction to the multi-storey car parking area located near the South Side of Nagano Station

Finally arriving at the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of Nagano Station

After spending a few minutes of anticipated waiting by the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of Nagano Station, my family finally arrived in our black rented Nissan car at 5.05 p.m.. My dad then got out of the car and offered to load my baggage into the car boot. Noticing that I was beginning to feel hungry already from my Christmas shopping trip, my parents informed me that we would be having dinner at a local restaurant once we were in the vicinity of Hakuba.

Soon enough, with everything loaded into the boot of the car, we finally departed the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of Nagano Station at 5.10 p.m. for the early evening and snowy road journey of 2 hours 40 minutes back to the sparse popular skiing village of Hakuba. Along the way, we stopped at a few departmental stores near Nagano to see if there was anymore necessities we needed to purchase for the remainder of our stay in Hakuba, also searching for some good restaurants to eat at on the way.

Our rented black Nissan car outside the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of Nagano Station

Finally departing the alley close to the multi-storey car parking building near the South Side of Nagano Station

Bypassing a Lawson convenience store in downtown Nagano at night

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nagano at night

Bypassing the Nagano Shinkansen depot in downtown Nagano at night

Travelling to a road bridge leading to the Nagano-Hakuba road at night

Bypassing a small car parking area on a road leading to Hakuba in downtown Nagano at night

Travelling past some small shops and houses in downtown Nagano on the way back to Hakuba at night

Travelling alongside the Shinano River on the way back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at night

Travelling along the windy road between the mid-sized urban city of Nagano and the sparse, rural village of Ogawa at night

Travelling a hilly snow-covered road near the sparse, rural village of Ogawa at night

Bypassing a snow-covered car parking area near the sparse, rural village of Ogawa late at night

Travelling along the snowy road between Ogawa and Hakuba at night

About to turn to the snowy road leading to the village centre of Hakuba late at night

Travelling along the dark roads of Hakuba on the way to dinner at night

Finally arriving at a local restaurant, Nonjae (呑者屋), in the sparse, popular and rural skiing village of Hakuba

After a long and snowy evening road drive of 2 hours 40 minutes from the mid-sized urban city of Nagano, we finally stumbled upon a local restaurant, known as Nonjae (呑者屋) at 7.50 p.m.. Parking our car outside the restaurant, we entered the restaurant and promptly requested for a table for the four of us. Soon enough, the owner, who was a middle-aged gentleman, directed us to a table located somewhere close to the restaurant entrance and left us with the food and beverage menus to make our reviews for dinner.

Once we were ready to eat, the restaurant owner came by to take down our meal orders for dinner. We ordered several familiar specialties, such as yakitori, seafood sashimi, and the local specialty of sliced raw horse meat, known as basashi (馬刺し) by the local Japanese citizens, with some red wine and beers to accompany the meal. Soon enough, that night, we had a sumptuous and filling dinner at Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba, although the sliced raw horse meat tasted very gamey and too strong for our taste buds to withstand.

The interior of Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba shortly after we entered the restaurant for dinner

Reviewing the food and beverage menu at Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba

A glass bottle of red wine to be shared between my mum and I

A platter of sliced raw horse meat (basashi; 馬刺し) to be shared among us

A platter of deep-fried shishamo to be shared among us

A platter of grilled asparagus to be shared among us

A platter of grilled skewered pork to be shared among us

A platter of grilled squid to be shared among us

A bowl of steamed clams to be shared among us

A sizzling platter of grilled beef intestines to be shared among us

A platter of skewered chicken to be shared among us

A large assorted bowl of seafood sashimi to be shared among us

A platter of grilled skewered beef to be shared among us

The interior of Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba shortly after we had finished dinner

After having a very filling family dinner at Nonjae restaurant, the clock was finally showing 8.25 p.m.. Feeling stuffed to the brim already and knowing that there was nothing left to do, we decided to head back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba for a well-earned good night's rest. Without wasting anymore time,  we paid our dinner bill and headed back to our black rented Nissan car for the short and snowy evening road drive back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba.

Soon enough, once everything was loaded into boot of the car and everyone was on board, we finally departed Nonjae restaurant at 8.40 p.m. for the remaining section of our long early evening road journey back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba from Nagano. We were then on our way for a short and snowy evening road journey of just 10 minutes back to our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba, which was located not far from where we were driving from.

The logo of Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba located just outside the entrance

Our rented black Nissan car parked just outside Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba

Finally back on the roads of Hakuba to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Bypassing a snowy traffic crossing on the way back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at night

Turning to the hilly road leading to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba late at night

Finally arriving back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

After a short and snowy evening road trip of 10 minutes from Nonjae Restaurant Hakuba, we finally arrived back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 8.50 p.m.. While my dad went to park the car, I got my belongings from the boot of the car and followed my mum and younger brother into the chalet. Once we were inside the chalet, we set up our electronics to be charged and had a very nice, hot shower before changing into our pyjamas to settle in for the remainder of the night.

Since I was to embark on my first Christmas shopping day trip to Nagoya the next morning, I set up my mobile phone alarm to wake me up at exactly seven o' clock. At the same time, I did some preparations of my necessary belongings in preparation for next morning's railway journey to Nagoya. Soon enough, with a majority of the necessary preparations completed for the night, I finally turned in by around eleven o' clock to midnight for a well-earned good night's rest for my upcoming train journey to Nagoya the next morning.

This officially brings the second segment of my 2014 Christmas special end-of-year winter vacation to Japan in December 2014 to a formal conclusion. Be sure to stay tuned for the remaining three segments of this Christmas special report once I have managed to select the highest quality photographs and videos for them. However, please do be patient as this requires time and effort to publish them.

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