Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Christmas Special: End-of-Year Winter Vacation to Japan in December 2014 ~ Section 4

Welcome to the fourth section of my special Christmas report about my end-of-year winter vacation in Japan in December 2014. There will be a total of three focus topics that will be covered in this section of this year's 2014 Christmas special report. They will mainly be the journey to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo, my long and luxurious Shinkansen train journeys to the northern suburban port city of Aomori and my Christmas shopping in Fukuoka in Kyushu.

Part 1 ~ The Journey To The Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After spending six enjoyable days of snow, food, onsens and trains in the sparse, rural and popular ski village of Hakuba, Nagano, it was finally time to head to Tokyo. On the morning of Wednesday (17 December), we all woke up at 8.30 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. As we would be heading over to Tokyo for the remainder of our holiday, the very first thing we did was to have a nice, hot shower and changed into our attire before packing up the remainder of our baggage for the journey.

For the afternoon journey to Tokyo, I would be scheduled to catch the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, which would be expected to depart Nagano Station at 12.18 p.m., and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 1.56 p.m.. My family, however, had a different itinerary to get to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. They decided to make a stopover at the Gotemba Premium Outlets for some afternoon shopping and arrive at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo later that evening at around 8.30 p.m., which left me the responsibility for the check-in.

I was lucky since I had made my Green Car (first class) seat reservation at Nagano Station in advance a couple of days before the trip in advance. Having something nice and warm to drink in the dining area, we spent the rest of the morning packing up the remainder of our baggage for the upcoming afternoon trip to Tokyo. At the same time, we went to conduct a check in the upper floor of the chalet to ensure that nothing had been left unpacked prior to the journey to Tokyo later that day.

The master bedroom in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after I woke up

The interior of the living room 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 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba on a snowy early winter's morning

After spending the rest of the morning getting our belongings ready for the trip to Tokyo, the clock was finally showing 9.30 a.m.. While my dad went out to get our rented black Nissan car, the rest of us checked the chalet to see that nothing had been unpacked. Due to the large amount of snow, my dad had to dig through the snow to access the car and drove up to our Chalet No. 1, so that we could help in loading our baggage into the boot of the car before we left the chalet for Tokyo. Once everything had been loaded into the boot of the car and the door to Chalet No. 1 had been securely locked, we finally departed The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 9.45 a.m..

We were then on our way for a snowy early morning road journey of approximately 1 hour 55 minutes to the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano located near Nagano Station. Along the way, we decided to stop at the roadside Mos Burger fastfood restaurant for a light meal so that we would not feel too hungry during our respective journeys to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. In a nutshell, the Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba was not a bad chalet to stay in, with our ratings for it being rather mediocre. The chalet does not beat the chalets that we stayed in at The Chalets at Country Resort in the sparse, rural town of Kutchan, Hokkaido, where we last stayed at in December 2011.

Finally departing The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Bypassing a snow-covered field in a heavy snow storm in the sparse, rural and popular ski village of Hakuba

Bypassing an Eneos petrol kiosk in the sparse, rural and snowy popular ski village of Hakuba

Bypassing a small housing area near a snow forest during a heavy snow storm in the sparse, rural and popular ski village of Hakuba

Bypassing a snow-covered hill forest during a heavy snow storm between the sparse, rural villages of Hakuba and Ogawa

Bypassing a snow-covered hill forest during a heavy snow storm near the mid-sized urban city of 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 relatively snowy early winter's afternoon

The exterior view of the roadside Mos Burger fast-food restaurant near the Nagano Shinkansen viaduct on a snowy early winter's afternoon

Our light fast-food meal at the roadside Mos Burger fast-food restaurant located near the Nagano Shinkansen viaduct

The interior view of the roadside Mos Burger fast-food restaurant near the Nagano Shinkansen viaduct

The snowy car parking area located outside the roadside Mos Burger fast-food restaurant located near the Nagano Shinkansen viaduct

Travelling parallel to the Nagano Shinkansen viaduct in the mid-sized urban city of Nagano on a snowy 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 snowy winter's afternoon

About to turn to the road leading to the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano near Nagano Station

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

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano

After a very long and snowy road journey duration of 1 hour 55 minutes from The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba located in the sparse, rural and popular ski village of Hakuba, we finally arrived at the entrance to the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano at 11.40 a.m.. As I got out, my dad offered to help me unload my baggage from the boot of the car. Before leaving me to catch the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, the rest of my family advised me to take care at all costs.

Once my family left me to head to the Gotemba Premium Outlets, I grabbed my belongings and rushed over to the South Entrance to Nagano Station. Entering the station, I took the escalator up to the Nagano Shinkansen concourse, arriving there by 11.50 a.m.. Once I was in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse, I went to check the departure information board to see which platform number the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo would be scheduled to depart at 12.18 p.m. from Track No. 14.

With that, I proceeded to the staffed ticketing gate and showed my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer before taking the elevator down to Tracks No. 13 and 14. Soon enough, I was finally on Tracks No. 13 and 14 at 11.55 a.m., where I managed to find an 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7 on Track No. 14. The train had just arrived from Tokyo as the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 511 bound for Nagano nearly an hour earlier, and had undergone an extensive cleaning process before becoming the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo. Boarding was also to commence about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure timing.

One last look at our rented black Nissan car shortly before I made my way to Nagano Station on foot

Finally arriving outside the South Entrance to Nagano Station

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

Bypassing the JR Ticket Office in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Nagano Station

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

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

The departure information board in the Nagano Shinkansen concourse at Nagano Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The Nagano Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Nagano Station during the early afternoon rush hour

Finally on Tracks No. 13 and 14 serving some of the Nagano Shinkansen trains bound for Tokyo at Nagano Station

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

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station. I remember riding on this train twice in June 2014 and on Saturday (13 December)

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 winter's early afternoon

Tracks No. 13 and 14 serving some of the Nagano Shinkansen trains bound for Tokyo at Nagano Station on a snowy winter's early afternoon

A 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W2 stopping at Track No. 12 at Nagano Station after undergoing test running on the soon-to-be-open Hokuriku Shinkansen line. This train will enter revenue passenger service once the Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Nagano and Kanazawa opens from the start of the revised timetable on 14 March 2015

The 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

The logo of the 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W2, undergoing test running on the soon-to-be-open Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Nagano and Kanazawa, on Track No. 12 at Nagano Station

The LED destination panel of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

Getting ready to board the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

After spending nearly 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 13 and 14, the doors of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 bound for Tokyo, were finally opened again at 12.03 p.m.. 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. 6D for the short early afternoon journey duration of 1 hour 38 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo in the Kanto region.

The seat next to me, 6C, was taken by a male American tourist, with both his wife and son seated in Seats No. 6A and 6B respectively. Once the clock struck exactly 12.18 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen ASAMA Superexpress No. 524 finally pulled out of Nagano Station for its short early afternoon journey of 1 hour 38 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo. I was then on my way for a short early afternoon trip of 1 hour 38 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital city of Japan.

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. 524 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Nagano 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. 524 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

A view of my seat, 6D, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 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. 524 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

Another 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. 524 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

Another 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. 524 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Nagano Station

Awaiting departure from Nagano Station

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま524号 東京行き 長野駅から上田駅間

Making a brief stop at Ueda Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Ueda

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. 524 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Ueda and Sakudaira Stations

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

Bypassing some snow-covered housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Saku

Making a brief stop at Sakudaira Station

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 524 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

Bypassing a snow forest located near the sparse, rural and popular ski town of Karuizawa

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. 524 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Sakudaira and Karuizawa Stations

Bypassing a snowy forest near the suburban ski town of Karuizawa

Making a brief stop at Karuizawa Station

E2系新幹線 N7編成 あさま524号 東京行き 軽井沢駅から高崎駅間

Making a brief stop at Takasaki Station

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524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 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. 524 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. 524 bound for Tokyo, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

A view of my seat, 6D, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

Crossing a flyover Shinkansen viaduct close to the Tohoku Shinkansen tracks as the train approaches Omiya Station

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524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524号 東京行き 上野駅から終点東京駅間

After a short early afternoon journey of 1 hour 38 minutes from the mid-sized urban city of Nagano in the Shin'etsu region, I finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 1.56 p.m. on Track No. 21. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind, I alighted the train and took the escalator all the way down to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of the station. Showing my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed JR Line interchange ticketing gates, I began to make my way to the Chuo Main Line platforms.

However, I suddenly realised that I did not have my red neck pouch containing my passport, as I had unknowingly left it behind on the train. In a state of panic, I quickly rushed to a lost-and-found items office located near the Chiyoda North Entrance to file a 'Lost Item' report, knowing that I would have to report to the Police if I could not recover my passport. At the lost-and-found items office, I described to the officer the details of the items that I had lost and the train that I was on.

The lost-and-found items officer, who could speak English, escorted me back to Tracks No. 20 and 21, where there was another lost-and-found items office available. Upon entering the office, my lost items were found, much to my relief. The officer informed to me that a cleaner had found them, and honestly reported them. Feeling thankful for recovering my documents, I signed the item recovery acknowledgement slip, and headed back to the Chuo Main Line concourse of the station.

I then went to check the train departure information board to see which platform the closest Chuo Main Line Rapid Service train bound for Hachioji would depart from. According to the train departure information board, the closest Chuo Main Line Rapid Service train bound for Hachioji would be scheduled to depart at 2.55 p.m. from Track No. 1. With that, I grabbed all my belongings and proceeded to take the escalators up to Tracks No. 1 and 2 for the short trip to Shinjuku, arriving at the platforms at 2.45 p.m..

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 527 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station

The 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 527 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 afternoon

A 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J4, operating as the Shinkansen "TOKI" Superexpress No. 327 bound for Niigata, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J4, operating as the Shinkansen "TOKI" Superexpress No. 327 bound for Niigata, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

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

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

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

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

The Chuo Main Line concourse leading to the platforms at Tokyo Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Chuo Main Line trains at Tokyo Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Track No. 1 at Tokyo Station shortly before the 2.55 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Rapid Service" train bound for Hachioji arrived at the station

After spending just a couple of minutes of anticipated waiting on the station platforms, a 10-car E233 series EMU finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 2.47 p.m. on Track No. 1. The train had just arrived as a Chuo Main Line Rapid Service bound for Tokyo from Takao earlier, and was to become the 2.55 p.m. Chuo Main Line Rapid Service bound for Hachioji. Once the train doors were opened, I boarded the train for the short mid-afternoon journey of just 14 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Shinjuku.

Once the clock struck exactly 2.55 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Chuo Main Line Rapid Service train finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its short mid-afternoon journey duration of 58 minutes to the suburban city of Hachioji in the suburban outskirts of western Tokyo. I was then on my way for a short mid-afternoon journey duration of no more than just 14 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Shinjuku located in the very heart of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.

A 10-car E233 series EMU, which would soon operate as the 2.55 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Rapid Service" bound for Hachioji, finally arriving at Tokyo Station on Track No. 1

The interior of the 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 2.55 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Rapid Service" bound for Hachioji, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 at Tokyo Station

The destination information screen on board the 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 2.55 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Rapid Service" bound for Hachioji, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 at Tokyo Station

Finally departing Tokyo Station

Overlooking the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen tracks shortly after departing Tokyo Station

Making a brief stop at Kanda Station

Bypassing some small office infrastructure in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling alongside the Kanda River between Ochanomizu and Yotsuya Stations on a bright winter's afternoon

Making a brief stop at Yotsuya Station

Bypassing some small housing apartments near downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's afternoon

Approaching Shinjuku Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Finally arriving Shinjuku Station

After a short mid-afternoon journey duration of 14 minutes from the busy hustle and bustle of Tokyo Station in the core of the Marunouchi business district in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived at Shinjuku Station at 3.09 p.m. on Track No. 12. Grabbing everything with me, I alighted the train and headed down to the underground concourse near the West Exit before eventually heading over to the staffed ticketing gate to show my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer.

Exiting the West Exit ticketing gates, I went to the Keio Line concourse of the station to see which was the free Hilton Hotel Tokyo shuttle bus stop number. According to the staff at the information counter, all Hilton Hotel shuttle buses would depart from Bus Stop No. 21. With that, I went into the Keio Department Store and took the escalator up to the first level before exiting the store, and arriving at Bus Stop No. 21 at 3.25 p.m. to see what time the next free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo would depart at.

According to the Hilton Hotel shuttle bus timetable at Bus Stop No. 21, the next free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo would depart at 3.40 p.m.. Soon enough, the 3.40 p.m. free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo finally arrived at Bus Stop No. 21 located outside Shinjuku Station finally arrived at 3.35 p.m.. Once the bus door was opened, I immediately boarded the bus and stowed my belongings at the baggage rack before securing a window seat at the front.

Soon enough, once the clock struck exactly 3.40 p.m. sharp, the free shuttle bus door was closed, and the free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus finally departed Bus Stop No. 21 located just outside the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station for a short and routine afternoon journey of just five minutes to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo located just a few kilometres away. I was then on my way for a short and routine mid-afternoon shuttle bus journey of just five minutes to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

The Hilton Hotel Tokyo (ヒルトン東京) is a 42-storey luxury hotel operated by Hilton Hotels & Resorts located in downtown Nishi-shinjuku 6-chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Opened on 1 September 1984, the hotel houses a total of 806 guest rooms and is easily accessible via a two-minute walk from Nishi-shinjuku Station located on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. A free hotel shuttle bus linking to and from Shinjuku Station in five minutes is available daily between 8.10 a.m. to 9.50 p.m..

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains bound for Hachioji, Takao and Otsuki at Shinjuku Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The underground JR Line concourse leading to the platforms at Shinjuku Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The underground JR Line concourse at Shinjuku Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The Keio Line concourse of Shinjuku Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The exterior view of the Odakyu Department Store Shinjuku located directly above Shinjuku Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Finally arriving at Bus Stop No. 21 located outside the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The 3.40 p.m. free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo finally arriving at the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The interior of the 3.40 p.m. free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the boarding process at Shinjuku Station

Finally departing Shinjuku Station

Bypassing the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's afternoon

About to turn into one of the busy roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's afternoon

Turning to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's afternoon

Finally arriving at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After a very short and routine mid-afternoon shuttle bus journey of just five minutes from the West Entrance of Shinjuku Station, I finally arrived at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 3.45 p.m.. Claiming all my belongings from the baggage storage rack, I alighted the bus and quickly went into the main hotel lobby before heading to the main reception counter to check myself and my family in for the upcoming five-night stay in downtown Tokyo. One female staff member also offered to help take care of my baggage while I checked in.

Once the entire check-in process was completed, I finally received our room keys at around four o' clock. The check-in receptionist then informed us that we would be allocated Rooms No. 2601 and 2602 respectively, and that the keys could be used to access both rooms. At the same time, I made some advanced cab reservations to Tokyo Station for the next four days (excluding Saturday, 20 December), since I would be undertaking long, early morning Shinkansen journeys.

Upon finishing all the necessary check-in and advanced cab arrangements procedures, I made a reservation for an airport limousine bus to transport us to the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) for Monday (22 December) at 7.40 a.m., as we would be heading back to Singapore on that day. The check-in receptionist agreed and instructed me to proceed to the hotel's concierge counter on that day itself. With everything completed, the female baggage porter escorted me to the elevator with my baggage and took me to my assigned Room No. 2602, arriving there at 4.15 p.m..

Entering my room, I thanked the baggage porter for her assistance, and went to set up my electronic devices to be charged and for my own personal use for the rest of the afternoon. As I was too exhausted to go out, I decided to order room service for dinner instead at 7.30 p.m.. For my in-room dining, I ordered a bowl of Katsudon and a piece of chocolate cake with a can of Coca-cola Zero. With my meal orders delivered to my Room No. 2602 at 7.50 p.m., I sat down to enjoy my in-room dinner while waiting for my family to arrive at the hotel.

The main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the late afternoon hours

The interior of my Room No. 2602 during the late afternoon hours

The view of several downtown infrastructure in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, as seen from my Room No. 2602 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright winter's afternoon

The bathroom area in my Room No. 2602 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

The view of several downtown infrastructure in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, as seen from my Room No. 2602 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at night

The interior of my Room No. 2602 at night

A nice bowl of Katsudon and chocolate cake with Coca-cola Zero for my in-room dinner at Room No. 2602 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After having the rest of the afternoon all to myself in my Room No. 2602 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo, my family finally arrived at the hotel at around 8.30 p.m.. Opening the door for them, my parents helped to sort out our attire for the upcoming days around Tokyo, and asked me how everything went for me throughout the day. While saying that I had been alright, they informed me that they were to return the car to the Nissan Rent-a-Car station near Shinjuku Station the following day.

My dinner trolley was then cleared upon calling the hotel's clean-up service. Since I was to be undertaking a long and luxurious northward Shinkansen journey to Aomori the following morning, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my pyjamas. Before settling in for the night, I went to prepare some of my necessary belongings for the trip and set my mobile phone alarm for six o' clock the next morning. Soon enough, by around eleven o' clock late that night, I finally turned in for a well-earned good night's rest.

In a nutshell, all my Shinkansen ASAMA train service experiences were not bad at all. Like the NOZOMI service that operates on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines, the ASAMA service was much better than the Korea Train Express (KTX) in South Korea, and I will rate it as a four-star Shinkansen train service. However, with the opening of the future Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Nagano and Kanazawa on 14 March 2015, I think I will be eager to give the KAGAYAKI or HAKUTAKA services a good try.

Part 2 ~ Journeying Northwards To Aomori In Luxury & Style

The next morning, which was Thursday (18 December), I woke up at precisely six o' clock after my mobile phone alarm blasted off early. Leaping out of bed, I went to have a nice, hot shower and changed into my attire for the day before preparing my necessary belongings for my first day trip to the northern suburban port city of Aomori. For the morning in-bound journey to Aomori, I would catch the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 8.20 a.m., and arrive at the Shin-aomori terminal station at 11.19 a.m..

I was beginning to get more and more excited since this would be my very first time using the ultra-luxurious Gran Class seating accommodation, having listed this on my bucket list since it was first introduced in March 2011. I was also lucky as I had made my Gran Class seat reservations in advance on Wednesday (10 December) at Shinjuku Station. Since my younger brother was still sleeping at that time, I packed my belongings quietly so as not to awaken him unnecessarily. Soon enough, I was finally ready to go for my first northward day trip to Aomori at 6.25 a.m.. Leaving my Room No. 2602, I took the elevator down to the main hotel lobby, eventually arriving there by 6.35 a.m..

With that, I immediately headed over to the hotel concierge for a cab to Tokyo Station. The concierge staff then informed me that a cab to Tokyo Station was already waiting for me outside the hotel entrance and offered to escort me to the cab, which I gladly accepted. Escorting me out, I found a black cab waiting for me just outside the entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. The driver then got out and offered to help me load my baggage into the boot of the cab as I got on. Once everything had been loaded into the cab and I was on board, I finally departed the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 6.45 a.m. for a short early morning cab journey of just half an hour to the Shinkansen entrance of Tokyo Station.

The main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the early morning hours

The black cab that would soon take me to Tokyo Station from the Hilton Hotel Tokyo in the early morning hours

The drop-off and pick-up area located by the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the early morning hours

Finally departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Bypassing the South Entrance to Shinjuku Station on a bright winter's morning

Travelling on the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on a bright early winter's morning

About to turn to the roads between downtown Chuo-ku and Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's morning

Travelling on the roads of downtown Chuo-ku, Tokyo, on a bright early winter's morning

About to turn towards the road near the Imperial Palace in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, on a bright winter's morning

Crossing the Sumida River into downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, on a bright early winter's morning

Travelling below the JR Line bridge as I get nearer to Tokyo Station

Finally arriving at the Shinkansen entrance to Tokyo Station

After a short cab ride of just half an hour from the Hilton Hotel Tokyo in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Marunouchi entrance to Tokyo Station at 7.15 a.m.. Paying my cab fare and checking to see that I did not leave any of my belongings behind, the cab driver offered to help me unload my baggage from the boot of his cab. Once everything was unloaded, I thanked the cab driver for his kind and warm services before he left me to catch my Shinkansen train to Aomori.

Since it was still early before my train to Shin-aomori, I decided to have some hot cocoa at a Starbucks Coffee cafeteria located just above the entrance to the station building. With that, I took the escalator up to the cafeteria and immediately went to the counter to place my hot cocoa order. Receiving my cup of hot cocoa, I immediately went to secure a seating area by the window just above the entrance. The hot cocoa helped me to keep myself refreshed and warm for my upcoming luxury train journey to Aomori later on.

The Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early morning hours

Taking the escalator up to Starbucks Coffee cafeteria

The interior of Starbucks Coffee cafeteria located above the Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early morning hours

A nice, warm cup of hot cocoa to freshen myself up before my long northward Shinkansen journey to Aomori

After having a warm cup of hot cocoa at Starbucks Coffee, the clock was finally showing 7.40 a.m.. Knowing that the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori would be departing in 40 minutes, I grabbed my belongings and left the café for the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen ticketing gates, with the walk linking to the ticketing gates taking no about five minutes. Arriving at the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen ticketing gates at 7.45 a.m., I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed JR Line ticketing gates before checking which platform number the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori would depart from.

According to the departure information board in the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse, the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori would be scheduled to depart at 8.20 a.m. from Track No. 23. However, due to adverse weather conditions and icy tracks from Nasu-shiobara to Morioka, there were major train delays. As a result of this, the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori was re-scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 9.20 a.m. from Track No. 22. Despite the delays, I went through the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen ticket gates, and went up to Tracks No. 22 and 23 in preparation for my train to Aomori.

HAYABUSA (はやぶさ) is the name of a high-speed Shinkansen train service operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Tokyo and Shin-aomori via the Tohoku Shinkansen line in Japan. It is currently the fastest train service operating on the Tohoku Shinkansen line, and is one of the only two train services that is capable of going as far as Aomori from Tokyo. The service is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph), like most TGV high-speed train services in France, with a typical travel timing between Tokyo to Shin-aomori taking approximately three hours.

The service commenced operations on 5 March 2011, using 10-car E5 series sets, with just three daily return workings (2 to Shin-aomori; 1 to Sendai) at a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). These sets feature Gran Class accommodation in Car No. 10, making the E5 series sets the first Shinkansen trains in Japan to feature such luxury accommodations. Each Gran Class cabin can seat up to 18 passengers arranged in a 2-1 configuration, with a dedicated train attendant providing free meals and beverages for passengers, with the seats appearing to be like Business Class seats.

From the start of the revised timetable on 16 March 2013, the maximum speed was raised to 320 km/h (200 mph), and more daily return workings were introduced, with some services stopping at Ueno Station and at some additional stations along the stretch between Morioka and Shin-aomori Stations. Some services operated coupled with Akita Shinkansen SUPER KOMACHI services, operated by 7-car E6 series sets, between Tokyo and Morioka. These services were limited to a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).

From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2014, the maximum top speed for all services was raised to 320 km/h (200 mph). Since that date, most HAYABUSA services run coupled with Akita Shinkansen KOMACHI services, operated by new 7-car E6 series sets, between Tokyo and Morioka. Because of the popularity and high consumer demand of the fast train service between the Greater Tokyo Area and the Tohoku region, it is mandatory to have seat reservations for the HAYABUSA service.

From 26 March 2016, with the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen line from Shin-aomori to Shin-hakodate-hokuto, the HAYABUSA service will be used for services from Tokyo, Sendai to Shin-hakodate-hokuto, with 10-car H5 series sets also scheduled to be introduced at the same time. While there are no extra charges for the HAYABUSA service with the Japan Rail Pass, the use of Gran Class accommodation requires the Shinkansen express charge and Gran Class surcharge.

The Tohoku Shinkansen (東北新幹線) is a Japanese high-speed Shinkansen rail line linking from Tokyo to Aomori in Aomori Prefecture in the Tohoku region of Japan. With a total length of 674 kilometres (419 miles), it is the longest Shinkansen line in Japan, and passes through the more sparsely populated Tohoku region. Operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), the line has two mini-Shinkansen lines, mainly the Akita Shinkansen and Yamagata Shinkansen, which split up at Morioka Station and Fukushima Station respectively. The line has a top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph), like most TGV high-speed lines in France.

The line was opened for service on 23 June 1982 between Omiya and Morioka, and was extended to Tokyo via Ueno Station on 20 June 1991. From 1 December 2002, the line was extended to Hachinohe from Morioka, allowing newer HAYATE services to commence using 10-car E2 series sets at a maximum top speed of 275 km/h (170 mph). From 4 December 2010, the line was eventually extended to Shin-aomori, allowing new HAYABUSA services to begin on 5 March 2011, using new 10-car E5 series sets at a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), though this was later raised to 320 km/h (200 mph) from 16 March 2013.

However, on the dreaded afternoon of 11 March 2011, the line was seriously affected by the Great East Japan Tsunami, with major damages ranging between collapsed station roofs and bent power pylons. The line was gradually re-opened in stages from 15 March 2011 to 29 April 2011, but trains had to run at lower speeds due to re-construction works and safety and maintenance checks being carried out. The pre-earthquake and tsunami timetable was finally re-instated on 23 September 2011.

As of 15 March 2014, the E2 series, E3 series, E5 series and E6 series sets operate on the line in 7-car and 10-car formations on the HAYABUSA, HAYATE, KOMACHI, YAMABIKO, TSUBASA and NASUNO services at top speeds ranging from 275 km/h (170 mph) to 320 km/h (200 mph). Most of these trains are capable of running up to 17 cars between Morioka, Fukushima and Tokyo. The line is expected to be extended to Shin-hakodate-hokuto via the undersea Seikan Tunnel as the Hokkaido Shinkansen line from 26 March 2016.

The interior of Starbucks Coffee cafeteria located above the Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station shortly before I left for the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen platforms

The entrance to the passageway leading to the JR Line and Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse at Tokyo Station via some closed shops

The Shinkansen ticketing office in the JR Line concourse of Tokyo Station

The JR Line ticketing gates at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The "Thomas & Friends: 110 Children's Safety Stations" sticker at the staffed ticketing gate in the JR Line concourse of Tokyo Station

The JR Line & Shinkansen interchange concourse at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen line interchange ticketing gates in the JR Line concourse at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The departure information board for Tohoku Shinkansen trains in the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

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

A 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C38, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 157 bound for Hiroshima, entering Tokyo Station on Track No. 14. I remember riding on this particular train as the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 478 between Nagoya and Tokyo on Sunday (14 December)

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C38, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 157 bound for Hiroshima, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C38, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 157 bound for Hiroshima, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

A 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F6, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 509 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F6, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 509 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F6, operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 509 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

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

Overlooking Tracks No. 20 and 21 at Tokyo Station on a bright early winter's morning

The logo of the 16-car JR Central N700A Series Shinkansen Set No. G12, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 213 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car N700A Series Shinkansen Set No. G12, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 213 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

A 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J72, operating as the Shinkansen "TOKI" Superexpress No. 313 bound for Niigata, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

Track No. 22 shortly before the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori arrived at Tokyo Station

After spending about 45 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 22 and 23, a 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19 finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 9.07 a.m. on Track No. 22, approximately one hour behind schedule. The train had arrived late from Sendai as the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 2 bound for Tokyo earlier, and was to undergo an extensive cleaning process before becoming the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomoriThe entire cleaning process took less than 10 minutes.

Upon completion of the entire cleaning process, the train doors were finally re-opened again at 9.15 a.m., thus allowing the passengers to board the train bound for Shin-aomori. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 10, which was the Gran Class car, and settled down into my assigned Seat No. 5A for the long, luxurious early morning trip of three hours to the mid-sized northern suburban port city of Aomori located at the northern tip of Honshu in the Tohoku region of the country.

Once the clock struck exactly 9.20 a.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 5 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its long early morning journey of 3 hours 13 minutes to the northern urban port city of Aomori in the Tohoku region of Japan in view to the delays caused by adverse weather conditions. I was then on my way for a long, luxurious early morning trip of 3 hours 13 minutes to the northern urban port city of Aomori located at the northern tip of Honshu island and the Tohoku region.

Aomori (青森市) is a suburban port city located at the northern tip of Honshu and the Tohoku region in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. It is the prefectural capital of Aomori Prefecture, and is located on the Tsugaru Strait, where Hokkaido is accessible by rail via the undersea Seikan Tunnel. Aomori is well-known throughout Honshu for its excessive and heavy snowfall and is one of the very few areas outside of Hokkaido to receive heavy snowfall in Japan. As of 1 December 2014, the city has an estimated population of 290,555.

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 東京駅に入線シーン

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, now operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, now operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, undergoing extensive cleaning on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The Gran Class logo on the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, during the boarding process on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, during the boarding process on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

A view of my seat, 5A, during the boarding process on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

Awaiting departure from Tokyo Station

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 東京駅から大宮駅間

Making a brief stop at Omiya Station

My Gran Class Shinkansen ticket for the in-bound segment between Tokyo and Shin-aomori

About to diverge away from the Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen tracks shortly after departing Omiya Station

The cover page for the Gran Class menu on the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori

Looking through the Gran Class menu on board the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, from my seat between Omiya and Oyama Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Shiraoka

A bottle cum glass of Gran Class white wine for myself

Bypassing some forested areas in the sparse, rural town of Nogi

A view of my seat, 5A, between Omiya and Oyama Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Omiya and Oyama Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Omiya and Oyama Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Oyama

Passing through Oyama Station

A box of conger eel (anago; 穴子) sushi bento for myself

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Utsunomiya

Passing through Utsunomiya Station at low speed due to a train ahead just departing the station

Bypassing an open dry field in the sparse, rural city of Yaita

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, from my seat between Utsunomiya and Nasu-shiobara Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Utsunomiya and Nasu-shiobara Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Utsunomiya and Nasu-shiobara Stations

Bypassing a green forested area near the suburban city of Nasushiobara

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 那須塩原 (通過) ~ 郡山 (通過)

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, from my seat between Koriyama and Fukushima Stations

Bypassing some warehouses in the suburban city of Nihonmatsu

Crafting out my report for the in-bound trip to Aomori on my blog

Bypassing some housing areas near the suburban city of Fukushima

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 福島 (通過) ~ 仙台 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Sendai Station

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Sendai shortly after departing Sendai Station

A nice glass of Coca-cola for myself

A view of my seat, 5A, between Sendai and Furukawa Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Sendai and Furukawa Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Sendai and Furukawa Stations

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural city of Osaki

Bypassing some housing apartments in the sparse, rural city of Osaki as the train approaches Furukawa Station

Pulling over at Furukawa Station briefly due to icy passing tracks

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural city of Kurihara

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, from my seat between Furukawa and Ichinoseki Stations

Bypassing a snowy field near the sparse, rural city of Ichinoseki

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 一ノ関 (通過) ~ 北上 (通過)

Bypassing a snowy hill forest in the sparse, rural city of Kitakami

Passing through Shin-hanamaki Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Hanamaki

A view of my seat, 5A, between Shin-hanamaki and Morioka Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Shin-hanamaki and Morioka Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Shin-hanamaki and Morioka Stations

Bypassing some housing areas covered in snow in the suburban city of Morioka

Making a brief stop at Morioka Station

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 盛岡 (発車) ~ いわて沼宮内 (通過)

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Iwate-numakunai and Ninohe Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Iwate-numakunai and Ninohe Stations

A view of my seat, 5A, between Iwate-numakunai and Ninohe Stations

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, from my seat between Iwate-numakunai and Ninohe Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Iwate-numakunai and Ninohe Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Shin-aomori, between Iwate-numakunai and Ninohe Stations

Passing through Ninohe Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Ninohe

Bypassing a dry green forest near the suburban port city of Hachinohe

Bypassing some urban infrastructure in the suburban port city of Hachinohe

Passing through Hachinohe Station

Bypassing a dry and sparse open field near the suburban port city of Hachinohe

E5系新幹線 U19編成 はやぶさ5号 新青森行き 七戸十和田 (通過) ~ 新青森 (到着)

After a long luxurious morning journey of 3 hours 13 minutes from the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Shin-aomori terminal station at 12.33 p.m. on Track No. 12, approximately 1 hour 14 minutes behind schedule. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind, I alighted the train and headed down to the main station concourse, where I showed my Green-type Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed Shinkansen ticketing gate.

Upon exiting the Shinkansen ticketing gate, I promptly made my way to the sightseeing and tourist information office to get a map of the city of Aomori. Since this would be my first time visiting Aomori, I decided to head over to the Asamushi Aquarium (浅虫水族館) first. With that, I took the elevator down to the entrance to the station, where I immediately exited the station, only to realise that the weather in Aomori was reasonably cool, and that it was not very snowy, as I had expected, unlike Hakuba.

Heading over to the nearby cab stand located just outside the main entrance to Shin-aomori Station, I immediately hailed the nearest cab available. The cab driver got out and offered to help me load my baggage into the boot of his cab, while I told him that my intended tourist destination would be the Asamushi Aquarium. Soon enough, once I was on board, I finally departed Shin-aomori Station at 12.50 p.m. for a road journey duration of 40 minutes to the Asamushi Aquarium located along the coast of Mutsu Bay.

Shin-aomori Station (新青森駅) is a railway station in the northern suburban port city of Aomori, Japan. Operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), it is one of the two main railway terminals serving the city of Aomori, and serves as the northern terminus for the Tohoku Shinkansen line. The station also serves as an interchange station with the Ou Main Line, with the Hakucho and Super Hakucho limited express services connecting to Hakodate in Hokkaido terminating here via a change of direction at Aomori Station.

The station was opened on 1 November 1986 as a simple unstaffed station on the Ou Main Line. However, following the decision to extend the Tohoku Shinkansen line, a new station building was constructed from 2007 to 2010. On 4 December 2010, the station became an interchange station with the Tohoku Shinkansen line, replacing Hachinohe as the northern terminus for the line. Shin-aomori is also expected to serve the future Hokkaido Shinkansen to Shin-hakodate-hokuto, which is scheduled to open on 26 March 2016.

The Asamushi Aquarium (浅虫水族館) is a public aquarium located in the Asamushi area of Aomori, Japan. Opened in 1924 and overlooking Mutsu Bay, the aquarium serves as the largest general public aquarium in the Tohoku region and the northernmost aquarium in the main Japanese island of Honshu. The aquarium houses 11,000 animals from 500 different species, including rare aquatic animals worldwide and Aomori's abundant marine resources. The aquarium is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., with the last entry at 4.30 p.m..

Two E5 Series Shinkansen trains side by side on Tracks No. 12 and 13 at Shin-aomori Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving some of the Tohoku Shinkansen trains bound for Morioka, Sendai and Tokyo at Shin-aomori Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Overlooking the overrun tracks, which will form as the Hokkaido Shinkansen tracks to Shin-hakodate-hokuto via the undersea Seikan Tunnel, at Shin-aomori Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U19, now operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 20 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The departure information board for Tohoku Shinkansen trains departing from Tracks No. 11 and 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The Tohoku Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Shin-aomori Station during the early afternoon hours

The tourist information office in the main station concourse of Shin-aomori Station during the early afternoon hours

The main station concourse at Shin-aomori Station during the early afternoon hours

The white cab that would soon take me to the Asamushi Aquarium from Shin-aomori Station at the station's cab stand

Finally departing Shin-aomori Station

Travelling along the roads of downtown Aomori close to some department stores on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Aomori on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling along the dry and slushy roads of downtown Aomori near some fast-food restaurants

The view of the Hakkoda Mountains on my way to the Asamushi Aquarium on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling along the narrow roads in the neighbourhood of Asamushi close to the Asamushi Aquarium

Finally arriving at the Asamushi Aquarium

After a short cab journey of just 40 minutes from Shin-aomori Station, I finally arrived at the entrance to Asamushi Aquarium. Paying my cab fare, the driver offered to help unload my baggage from the boot of the cab, which I gladly accepted. Checking to see that none of my belongings had been left behind on board, I thanked the cab driver for his services and went into the ticketing area of the aquarium, where I promptly headed to the main ticketing office to purchase my one-day pass for my aquarium visit.

Upon purchasing my one-day pass for my Asamushi Aquarium visit, I promptly entered the main aquarium display area, and viewed a lot of very notable aquarium attractions, such as a dolphin show and a couple of animal-feeding sessions, allowing myself to enjoy my day at the Asamushi Aquarium. An aquarium tunnel was also an enjoyable part of my tour around it. Through my afternoon tour at the Asamushi Aquarium, I enjoyed it much better than the COEX Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea, though it was smaller in size.

The main entrance to the Asamushi Aquarium on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon in Aomori

The automatic ticketing machines in the ticketing area of the Asamushi Aquarium

A small snack cafeteria located to the entrance to the aquarium tunnel in the Asamushi Aquarium

The interior of the animal show theatre in the Asamushi Aquarium

The dolphin animal show starting with the dolphins receiving treats from their trainers at the Asamushi Aquarium

One of the dolphins, Lucky, swimming gracefully during the dolphin animal show at the Asamushi Aquarium

One of the dolphins, Pippi, coming up to his trainer to share his bond during the dolphin talent show at the Asamushi Aquarium

Pippi showing off his ability to breathe out of the water during the dolphin talent show at the Asamushi Aquarium

Pippi swimming in the water with his head popping out during the dolphin talent show at the Asamushi Aquarium

The other two dolphins, Smile and Mirai, about to come up to show themselves in open fresh air during the dolphin animal show at the Asamushi Aquarium

The dolphin name list in the animal show theatre in the Asamushi Aquarium

Smile showing off the ability to jump high to hit a red ball during the dolphin talent show at the Asamushi Aquarium

Mirai coming up to a trainer for a patting session during the dolphin animal show in the Asamushi Aquarium

The epic closure of the 1.30 p.m. dolphin show at the Asamushi Aquarium

A diver swimming with a school of fish in the aquarium tunnel at the Asamushi Aquarium

A school of fish swimming about in the large aquarium tank as seen from the aquarium tunnel at the Asamushi Aquarium

A large aquarium tank housing some of the deep sea fish species in the Asamushi Aquarium

A large aquarium tank housing some freshwater fish in the Asamushi Aquarium

A large aquarium fish tank housing sea lions and seals in the Asamushi Aquarium

The harbour seals being fed with fish treats from their trainer during the seal-feeding show at the Asamushi Aquarium

A large aquarium tank housing the turtles in the Asamushi Aquarium

The passageway leading to the dolphin pool at the Asamushi Aquarium

One of the dolphins, Mikan, coming up to her trainer for a gentle patting and some treats

The dolphins coming up to their trainers for some treats during the dolphin-feeding show at the Asamushi Aquarium

The interior of the dolphin-feeding pool at the Asamushi Aquarium during the dolphin-feeding show

The two dolphins, Mikan and Ringo, doing belly floats as part of their talent show during the animal-feeding session at the Asamushi Aquarium

The three dolphins, Jim, Mikan and Ringo, displaying their talents to their trainers as part of their social bonds during the dolphin-feeding show at the Asamushi Aquarium

The signboard displaying the name of the dolphins in the animal-feeding hall at the Asamushi Aquarium

Overlooking some snow-covered houses and Mutsu Bay from the Asamushi Aquarium on a cloudy winter's afternoon

A beautiful view of Mutsu Bay as seen from the Asamushi Aquarium on a cloudy winter's afternoon

The interior of the aquarium tunnel at the Asamushi Aquarium

A school of fish swimming about in the large aquarium tank as seen from the aquarium tunnel at the Asamushi Aquarium shortly before I ended my aquarium tour

After spending an enjoyable afternoon aquarium tour around the Asamushi Aquarium, the clock was finally showing 3.15 p.m.. Knowing that I was beginning to feel rather thirsty for some iced tea, I decided to head back to Shin-aomori Station to have some tea at a station cafeteria in the station concourse. For the evening return trip to Shinjuku, I would catch the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, which would be scheduled to depart Shin-aomori Station at 5.22 p.m., and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.32 p.m..

Upon arrival at Tokyo, I would connect to a Chuo Main Line Commuter Rapid Service train bound for Takao, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 8.50 p.m., and arrive at Shinjuku Station at 9.05 p.m.. With that, I immediately walked through the passageway leading to the main ticketing counter and asked the ticketing officer to arrange for a cab for me to Shin-aomori Station. The ticketing officer then made a phone call to a cab company to get a cab for me to Shin-aomori Station, eventually informing me that my pre-arranged cab would arrive at the Asamushi Aquarium before 3.30 p.m..

With that, I thanked the ticketing officer for her kind and effective services and headed out to the aquarium's main entrance to wait for my pre-arranged cab to Shin-aomori Station. Soon enough, a white cab finally showed up outside the main entrance to the Asamushi Aquarium at 3.25 p.m.. The driver then got out and offered to assist me in loading my baggage into the boot of the cab while I got in for the upcoming cab ride, informing the driver that my intended destination was Shin-aomori Station.

Soon enough, once all my belongings had been loaded into the cab, I finally departed the Asamushi Aquarium at 3.30 p.m. for a short late afternoon cab ride of 40 minutes along the coast of Mutsu Bay to Shin-aomori Station. In short, the Asamushi Aquarium was a rather small aquarium. Nevertheless, I had enjoyed my tour around the aquarium and I could see that it was much better than the COEX Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea, despite its size. I shall not hesitate to come here again when the opportunity comes.

The snowy and slushy roads located outside the Asamushi Aquarium on a cloudy winter's afternoon

My pre-arranged cab to Shin-aomori Station arriving at the entrance to the Asamushi Aquarium

Finally departing the Asamushi Aquarium

Travelling along the narrow roads in the neighbourhood of Asamushi on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling along the breathtaking coastline of Mutsu Bay on the way back to Shin-aomori Station

Travelling past a snow-covered field in Aomori on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling through downtown Aomori just aft of Mutsu Bay on a cloudy winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Aomori close to some office infrastructure on the way back to Shin-aomori Station

Travelling along a road bridge in downtown Aomori in the direction to Shin-aomori Station

Travelling along the roads of downtown Aomori close to some department stores in the direction to Shin-aomori Station

Shin-aomori Station coming into view as I get closer to my destination

Finally arriving at the cab stands located outside Shin-aomori Station

After a short cab ride of just 40 minutes along the coastline of Mutsu Bay from the Asamushi Aquarium, I finally arrived at the cab stands located just outside Shin-aomori Station at 4.10 p.m.. Paying my cab fare, the driver offered to help me unload my baggage from the boot of his cab, which I gladly accepted. Checking to see that I did not leave any of my belongings behind, I thanked the driver for his services and promptly went into the station building so as to keep warm from the cold weather.

Taking the escalator up to the main station concourse, I headed to the Travel Service Center and managed to arrive at a small cafeteria, known as Café de Tsugaru, at 4.15 p.m.. Going into the cafeteria, I promptly headed over to the main order counter and placed my order for iced Earl Grey Tea with milk and sugar. Once I had paid up for my drink order, I headed to an empty table to enjoy my refreshing glass of iced Earl Grey Tea before my upcoming long evening return trip back to Tokyo.

The cab stands located outside the main entrance to Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

The main station concourse at Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

The Tohoku Shinkansen ticketing gates in the main station concourse at Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

Finally arriving at Café de Tsugaru in the Travel Service Center at Shin-aomori Station

A nice, refreshing glass of iced Earl Grey Tea and water for myself

The logo of Café de Tsugaru in the Travel Service Center at Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

After having a nice and refreshing glass of iced Earl Grey Tea at Café de Tsugaru, the clock was finally showing 4.50 p.m.. Knowing that it would soon be time to catch the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, I quickly packed away all my belongings and left the cafeteria for the Tohoku Shinkansen ticketing gates. Upon showing my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate, I finally arrived at the Tohoku Shinkansen concourse of the station in a few minutes. In the Tohoku Shinkansen concourse itself, I immediately went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo would depart from.

According to the departure information board located in the Tohoku Shinkansen concourse, the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo would depart at 5.22 p.m. from Track No. 12. Without wasting anymore time, I took the elevator up to Tracks No. 11 and 12, where I found a 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2 on Track No. 12. The train had arrived late as the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 19 bound for Shin-aomori from Tokyo earlier that afternoon, and had just undergone extensive cleaning before becoming the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo. Boarding was also scheduled to commence approximately 15 minutes before departure.

The interior of the Travel Service Center and passenger waiting area in the Tohoku Shinkansen concourse of Shin-aomori Station shortly before I left for the platforms

The Tohoku Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

The departure information board in the Tohoku Shinkansen concourse at Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving some of the Tohoku Shinkansen trains bound for Morioka, Sendai and Tokyo at Shin-aomori Station during the early evening hours

The station name plate on Tracks No. 11 and 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, awaiting boarding on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The logo of the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

Getting ready to board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The LED destination panel of the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station shortly before boarding for the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo commenced

After spending about 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 11 and 12, the doors of the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, were finally opened again at 5.07 p.m., allowing the passengers to board the train to Tokyo. Without wasting anymore time, I boarded the train via Car No. 10, which was the Gran Class car, and settled down into my assigned Seat No. 4C for the expected long and luxurious evening return trip of 3 hours 10 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat adjacent to me, 4B, would remain vacant for the entire long evening return journey from Shin-aomori to Tokyo. At exactly 5.22 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 finally pulled out of Shin-aomori Station for its long early evening return journey of 3 hours 10 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo. I was then on my way for a long, luxurious early evening return journey of 3 hours 10 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital of Japan.

Along the way, the Shinkansen HAYABUSA Superexpress No. 30 was to operate coupled with the Shinkansen KOMACHI Superexpress No. 30 from Akita, operated by a 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z8, between Morioka and Tokyo. However, due to the adverse weather conditions causing icy tracks earlier that morning, both trains had to pull over at Furukawa and Shiroishi-zao Stations, leading to both services being delayed for about two minutes and increasing the total travel duration to 3 hours 12 minutes.

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

A view of my seat, 4C, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

Another front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

Another rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Shin-aomori Station

Looking through the Gran Class menu on board the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo

Awaiting departure from Shin-aomori Station

E5系新幹線 U2編成 はやぶさ30号 東京行き 新青森 (発車) ~ 八戸 (通過)

A bottle cum glass of Gran Class white wine for myself

Crafting out my day report about Aomori on my blog between Hachinohe and Ninohe Stations

Reading through the most hilarious quote in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on iBooks in my laptop ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

My Gran Class ticket for the return segment between Shin-aomori and Tokyo

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Hachinohe and Ninohe Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Hachinohe and Ninohe Stations

A view of my seat, 4C, between Hachinohe and Ninohe Stations

Passing through Ninohe Station

A small packet of mixed nuts for myself on my table

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Ninohe and Iwate-numakunai Stations

Travelling through the sparse, rural town of Iwate at night

E5系新幹線 U2編成 はやぶさ30号 東京行き いわて沼宮内 (通過) ~ 盛岡 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Morioka Station

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, while making a brief stop at Morioka Station

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, while making a brief stop at Morioka Station

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, awaiting coupling with the Shinkansen "KOMACHI" Superexpress No. 30 from Akita on Track No. 11 at Morioka Station

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving the Tohoku & Akita Shinkansen trains bound for Sendai and Tokyo at Morioka Station

Track No. 11 at Morioka Station shortly before the Shinkansen "KOMACHI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo arrived at the station

E6系新幹線 Z8編成 こまち30号 東京行き 盛岡駅ではやぶさ30号と連結シーン

The 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z8, operating as the Shinkansen "KOMACHI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, coupled with the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo on Track No. 11 at Morioka Station

Awaiting departure from Morioka Station

E5系新幹線 U2編成 はやぶさ30号 東京行き 盛岡 (発車) ~ 水沢江刺 (通過)

Bypassing some suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Ichinoseki at night

Passing through Ichinoseki Station

Bypassing a snowy field in the sparse, rural city of Kurihara at night

Pulling over at Furukawa Station briefly due to icy passing tracks

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Osaki at night

A nice glass of Coca-cola for myself

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Furukawa and Sendai Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Furukawa and Sendai Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Furukawa and Sendai Stations

Making a brief stop at Sendai Station

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Sendai shortly after departing Sendai Station at night

A view of my seat, 4C, between Sendai and Shiroishi-zao Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Sendai and Shiroishi-zao Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Sendai and Shiroshi-zao Stations

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Sendai and Shiroishi-zao Stations

A box of Jagariko potato sticks (じゃがりこ), together with a box of almond chocolates and another glass and bottle of white wine, for myself

Pulling over at Shiroishi-zao Station briefly due to icy passing tracks

Travelling through the suburban city of Shiroshi at night

E5系新幹線 U2編成 はやぶさ30号 東京行き 福島 (通過) ~ 郡山 (通過)

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Koriyama and Shin-shirakawa Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural village of Nishigo at night

Passing through Shin-shirakawa Station

Travelling through the sparse, rural village of Nishigo at night

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Shin-shirakawa and Utsunomiya Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Nasushiobara at night

Bypassing some housing areas and small office infrastructure near the suburban city of Utsunomiya at night

Another glass of Coca-cola for myself

Passing through Utsunomiya Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Oyama at night

Passing through Oyama Station

The view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Oyama and Omiya Stations

The rear view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Oyama and Omiya Stations

The front view of the Gran Class cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Oyama and Omiya Stations

A view of my seat, 4C, between Oyama and Omiya Stations

A posted sticker on the Gran Class door reminding passengers that the Gran Class cabin is only accessible to those with a valid Gran Class Shinkansen ticket

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, operating as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, between Oyama and Omiya Stations

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Kita-ku, Saitama, as the train approaches Omiya Station at night

Making a brief stop at Omiya Station

E5系新幹線 U2編成 はやぶさ30号 東京行き 大宮駅から上野駅間

Making a brief stop at Ueno Station

E5系新幹線 U2編成 はやぶさ30号 東京行き 上野駅から終点東京駅間

After a long evening journey duration of 3 hours 12 minutes from the northern suburban port city of Aomori located in the Tohoku region at the northern tip of Honshu, I finally arrived back at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.34 p.m. on Track No. 23, approximately two minutes behind schedule. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind on board the train, I alighted and took the escalator down to the Tohoku, Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen concourse of the station before heading to the JR Line interchange ticketing gates.

Showing my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed JR Line interchange ticket gates, I walked through the concourse and checked to see which platform the closest Chuo Main Line Commuter Rapid Service train bound for Takao would depart from. According to the departure information board, the closest Chuo Main Line Commuter Rapid Service train bound for Takao would depart at 8.50 p.m. from Track No. 2. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly rushed through the concourse to Tracks No. 1 and 2 for the trip back to Shinjuku.

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo earlier, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

The 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U2 and 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z8, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "HAYABUSA" & "KOMACHI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo earlier, joined together on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

The 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z8, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "KOMACHI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo earlier, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z8, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "KOMACHI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo earlier, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

Tracks No. 22 and 23 serving some of the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station during the early evening hours

The logo of the 7-car E3 Series Shinkansen Set No. L69, operating as the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 159 bound for Yamagata, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 7-car E3 Series Shinkansen Set No. L69, operating as the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 159 bound for Yamagata, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

A 7-car E3 Series Shinkansen Set No. L69, operating as the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 159 bound for Yamagata, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J63 and 7-car E3 Series Shinkansen Set No. L69, operating as the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" & "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 159 bound for Sendai and Yamagata, joined together on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

A 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J63, operating as the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 159 bound for Sendai, on Track No. 22 at Tokyo Station

The Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early evening hours

The JR Line interchange ticketing gates in the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early evening hours

The JR Line & Shinkansen interchange concourse at Tokyo Station during the early evening rush hour

The entrance to the passageway linking to the JR Line platforms at Tokyo Station during the early evening rush hour

Walking through the passageway linking to the JR Line platforms at Tokyo Station during the early evening rush hour

About to take the escalator up to Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains at Tokyo Station

After a quick walk of 10 minutes from the Tohoku, Joetsu & Nagano Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station, I finally arrived on Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains at 8.45 p.m.. A 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 8.50 p.m. Commuter Rapid Service train bound for Takao was also waiting on Track No. 2 at the same time. With that, I immediately boarded the train and settled down for the short return trip of just 15 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Shinjuku.

Once the clock struck exactly 8.50 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Chuo Main Line Commuter Rapid Service train finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its short early evening journey of 1 hour 04 minutes to Takao located in the suburban city of Hachioji to the west of Tokyo. I was then on my way for a short early evening duration of just 15 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Shinjuku. The train also gradually became crowded with lots of commuters trying to get home after a day's work.

The departure information board for the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains on Tracks No. 1 and 2 at Tokyo Station during the early evening rush hour

The station name plate on Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains at Tokyo Station during the early evening rush hour

Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains at Tokyo Station during the early evening rush hour

The interior of the 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 8.50 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Commuter Rapid Service" bound for Takao, during the boarding process on Track No. 2 at Tokyo Station

The destination information screen on board the 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 8.50 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Commuter Rapid Service" bound for Takao, during the boarding process on Track No. 2 at Tokyo Station

Finally departing Tokyo Station

Travelling past Akihabara between Tokyo and Ochanomizu Stations at night

Making a brief stop at Ochanomizu Station

Travelling alongside the Kanda River between Ochanomizu and Yotsuya Stations at night

Making a brief stop at Yotsuya Station

Approaching Shinjuku Station at night

Finally arriving back at Shinjuku Station

After a short and quick evening journey duration of just 15 minutes from Tokyo Station in the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived back at Shinjuku Station at 9.05 p.m. on Track No. 12. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind, I alighted the train and went down to the underground passageway leading to the West Exit ticketing gates. Showing my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the manned ticketing gate, I went out of the station and tried to find a direction to Bus Stop No. 21.

Knowing that the next free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo would depart at 9.20 p.m. and that the Keio Department Store was already closed, I quickly went through the Keio Line concourse and went to the West Exit of the station, eventually arriving at Bus Stop No. 21 at 9.10 p.m.. Some passengers heading to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo were also beginning to roll up. Soon enough, the 9.20 p.m. free Hilton Hotel Shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo finally arrived at the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station at 9.15 p.m..

Once the bus door was opened, I rolled up behind some other passengers and boarded the bus. In the bus, I promptly stored my baggage in the baggage rack and quickly secured an empty seat by the window somewhere in the middle section. With the clock striking exactly 9.20 p.m. sharp, the bus door was closed, and the free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus finally pulled out of Shinjuku Station, taking me for a short evening road journey of just five minutes back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving the Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains bound for Hachioji, Takao and Otsuki at Shinjuku Station during the early evening rush hour

The train departure information board for Chuo Main Line (Rapid) trains departing from Track No. 12 at Shinjuku Station during the early evening rush hour

The 10-car E233 series EMU, operating as the 9.05 p.m. Chuo Main Line "Commuter Rapid Service" bound for Takao, on Track No. 12 at Shinjuku Station

The underground JR Line concourse leading to the platforms at Shinjuku Station during the early evening rush hour

The underground JR Line concourse at Shinjuku Station during the early evening rush hour

The Keio Line concourse of Shinjuku Station during the early evening rush hour

The exterior view of the Odakyu Department Store Shinjuku located directly above Shinjuku Station at night

Finally arriving at Bus Stop No. 21 located outside the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station at night

The 9.20 p.m. free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo finally arriving at the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The interior of the 9.20 p.m. free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the boarding process at Shinjuku Station

Finally departing Shinjuku Station

About to turn into one of the busy roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, late at night

Turning towards the road leading to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at night

Finally arriving back at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After a short free shuttle bus ride of just five minutes from Shinjuku Station, I finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 9.25 p.m.. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind, I alighted the bus and went into the hotel lobby to inform my family that I had already returned. My dad then told me that he and my younger brother had booked for a dinner reservation at a Chinese restaurant in the hotel, known as Dynasty Chinese Restaurant (王朝), for the last order slot at 9.30 p.m..

He then informed me to meet them promptly on the second floor, where the restaurant was located. Without wasting anymore time, I immediately headed to the elevator lobby and took the elevator up to the second floor before rushing over to Dynasty Chinese Restaurant to meet my dad and younger brother, eventually arriving there by 9.35 p.m.. As my mum was too tired to have dinner with us after spending a whole day of shopping in downtown Tokyo, she was resting in Room No. 2601 and we decided to bring some food up for her later.

With that, I sat down to review the food and beverage menus before placing our main meal orders for dinner. Once we were ready to eat, a waiter came by to take down our main meal orders for dinner. We order several local specialties, such as roasted Peking duck, gyoza (jiaozi; 餃子) dumplings and fried rice. That night, all three of us had a sumptuous Chinese dinner at Dynasty Chinese Restaurant. I was really happy to be eating here since I got the chance to sample our own local dishes in Japan for the first time, and that the Peking duck here was better than back in Singapore.

The main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the mid-evening hours

Walking through the second floor of the Hilton Hotel Tokyo to Dynasty Chinese Restaurant

Finally arriving at Dynasty Chinese Restaurant on the second floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

The interior of Dynasty Chinese Restaurant located on the second floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during dinner hours

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for Dynasty Chinese Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for Dynasty Chinese Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

A platter of mixed vegetables and tofu to be shared among us

A platter of gyoza (jiaozi) dumplings to be shared among us

A small bowl of hoisin sauce for our upcoming Peking duck

A platter of fried rice for my younger brother

Our roasted Peking duck proudly displayed before us at our table at Dynasty Chinese Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

A plate of sliced Peking duck skin and meat to be shared among us

A plate of braised beef rib in black pepper sauce, fried potato floss and Asian greens to be shared among us

A bowl of Peking duck soup for myself

The interior of Dynasty Chinese Restaurant located on the second floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo shortly before we headed back to our Rooms No. 2601 and 2602

The interior of my Room No. 2602 during the late night hours shortly after my younger brother and I got back

After having a very filling and sumptuous Chinese dinner at Dynasty Chinese Restaurant, the clock was finally showing 10.05 p.m.. Feeling stuffed to the brim already and knowing that there were some pieces of Peking duck left, my dad decided to bring the remainder of the duck to my mum so that she could have something to eat once she woke up. With that, we paid up our dinner bill, knowing that dining at this restaurant any time would be recorded in our hotel bills, and headed back to the elevator lobby.

Taking the elevator back up to the 26th floor, we headed back to our Rooms No. 2601 and 2602, eventually arriving back there before 10.15 p.m.. Once both my younger brother and I were in our Room No. 2602, we had a very nice, hot shower and changed into our pyjamas before settling in for the night. Knowing that I was to undertake a long Shinkansen train trip to Fukuoka in Kyushu the next morning, I immediately contacted the hotel reception to make arrangements for a cab to Tokyo Station at 5.30 a.m..

The hotel reception then agreed, and reminded me to report to the concierge the moment I came down to the hotel lobby early the next morning. With the arrangements done, I went to charge my electronic device batteries for the night, set my mobile phone alarm to 4.45 a.m. and prepare some of my necessary belongings in preparation for my early morning journey to Fukuoka the next day. Upon doing this, I finally turned in by around 11.15 p.m. for a well-earned good night's rest for my long early morning trip to Fukuoka the next day.

Overall, my first ride on the Shinkansen HAYABUSA service and in Gran Class was a very pleasant experience, and with my first northward visit to Aomori. Like the NOZOMI service on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines, the Korea Train Express (KTX) in South Korea is definitely no match for the HAYABUSA service, which results in me rating the HAYABUSA service as a five-star Shinkansen train service. I shall be more than happy to hitch a ride on the Shinkansen HAYABUSA service in the Gran Class car again when I get the opportunity to do so.

Part 3 ~ Christmas Shopping In Downtown Fukuoka In Kyushu

The next morning, which was Friday (19 December), I woke up at precisely 4.45 a.m. sharp after my mobile phone alarm went off early. Getting out of bed quietly, I immediately went to have a nice, hot shower and changed into my attire before preparing the remainder of my necessary belongings for the day. According to my Japanese train itineraries, I had made a schedule for myself to undertake a long Shinkansen train journey to Fukuoka located in the southern island of Kyushu on this day.

For the early morning in-bound journey to Fukuoka, I would catch the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), which would be scheduled to depart from Tokyo Station at 6.50 a.m., and arrive at the Hakata terminal station at 11.59 a.m.. I was in luck since I had managed to make my Green Car (first class) seat reservations in advance on Tuesday (16 December) while I was at Narita Airport (Terminal 1) Station, and that I had managed to prepare some of my belongings the night before the trip.

Once all my necessary belongings for the day were prepared, I was officially ready to go at 5.15 a.m.. Putting on my jacket and footwear, I quietly left my Room No. 2602 and took the elevator down to the hotel lobby, eventually arriving there by 5.25 a.m.. As reminded by the hotel reception, I promptly headed to the concierge counter, where the hotel concierge man escorted me to my waiting pre-arranged cab to Tokyo Station, which was already waiting for me outside the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

The driver then got out and offered to help load my baggage into the boot of his cab while I got in for the ride to Tokyo Station. Informing the driver that I was to be going on the Tokaido Shinkansen line today to Fukuoka, he informed me that the closest entrance to drop me off at would be the Yaesu Central Entrance. Soon enough, once everything had been loaded into the cab, I finally departed the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 5.30 a.m. for a short and quick pre-dawn road trip of just 20 minutes to the Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station located in the heart of the Marunouchi business district of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.

The main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

The lobby lounge in the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

The concierge counter in the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

The black cab that would soon take me to Tokyo Station from the Hilton Hotel Tokyo in the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Finally about to turn to the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, after departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling on the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Travelling past some downtown infrastructure in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, near Shinjuku Station during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Travelling along the windy roads by the Kanda River close to downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Travelling on the roads of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, near the Marunouchi business district during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Bypassing some office infrastructure in the Marunouchi business district of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Going around the bend to the Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station in the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Finally arriving at the Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station

After a short pre-dawn cab journey of just 20 minutes from the Hilton Hotel Tokyo located in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived outside the Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station at 5.50 a.m.. Paying my cab fare, the driver offered to help me unload my baggage from the boot of his cab. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings on board, I thanked the driver for his services before he left me to commence my early morning train journey to Fukuoka in the southern island of Kyushu.

I then entered the main station concourse and immediately headed to the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing gates. Arriving at the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen staffed ticketing gate, I quickly showed my Green-type Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer before going into the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse. While in the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse, I went to check the train departure information board to see which platform the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) would depart from.

According to the departure information board located in the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse, the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) would depart at 6.50 a.m. from Track No. 18. Since it was still early before my Shinkansen train to Fukuoka, I decided to buy something to eat from an open station kiosk and do some train-spotting on Tracks No. 14, 15, 16 and 17 first. I then went over to Tracks No. 18 and 19 at around 6.20 a.m. in preparation for my upcoming long early morning Shinkansen journey to Fukuoka.

NOZOMI (のぞみ) is the fastest train service operating on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. The service stops only at Shinagawa, Shin-yokohama, Nagoya and Kyoto Stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen line from Tokyo to Shin-osaka, and at certain stretch stations on the Sanyo Shinkansen line from Shin-osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka). The service is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), with the fastest journey duration taking 2 hours 25 minutes between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, and 4 hours 50 minutes between Tokyo and Hakata (Fukuoka).

The service commenced operations on 14 March 1992, using 300 series sets at a maximum top speed of 270 km/h (170 mph), until they were finally phased out from revenue service on 16 March 2012. From 22 March 1997, 500 series sets were introduced at a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), allowing the fastest travel duration from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka) to take 4 hours 49 minutes, until they were retired from these services on 28 February 2010. From 13 March 1999, 700 series sets were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 285 km/h (177 mph), with the 300 series sets retained on additional services.

From 1 July 2007, N700 series sets were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), like the 500 series sets. All through regular NOZOMI services bound for Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka) were operated by N700 series trains from 13 March 2010. From the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, all regularly scheduled NOZOMI services, including runs limited to the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, were operated by newer N700 series trains.

All NOZOMI services operated by N700 series trains are entirely non-smoking, with smoking permitted only in the segregated smoking areas available in Cars No. 3, 7, 10 and 15, of the 16-car formation. The NOZOMI service is not valid for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass, since the service is designated to stop mostly at major cities only on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines. To use a NOZOMI service, both the basic fare and Shinkansen express charge must be paid, along with the Green Car (first class) surcharge when using a Green Car (first class) seat.

The Sanyo Shinkansen (山陽新幹線) is a major Japanese high-speed Shinkansen railway line connecting the cities of Osaka in Honshu and Fukuoka in Kyushu, Japan. Operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West), it is the second high-speed Shinkansen line in the country and was opened in stages between 1972 and 1975. The line generally passes through rural areas and suburbs in Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka Prefectures, and provides competition with domestic airliners between Osaka and Fukuoka. The line has a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).

On 12 March 2011, a day after the March 11 Great East Japan Tsunami, more direct access to the other areas in the southern region of Kyushu started with the opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen line between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Shin-yatsushiro to complement the existing route from Shin-yatsushiro to Kagoshima-chuo. This eventually permitted new MIZUHO and SAKURA services to commence service using special 8-car N700 series sets painted in a distinct livery intended to evoke improved access and travel comfort between the two major islands of Honshu and Kyushu.

As of 15 March 2014, the 500 series, 700 series and N700 series sets running in both 8-car and 16-car formations run on the line on the various NOZOMI, MIZUHO, HIKARI, SAKURA and KODAMA services at maximum top speeds from 285 km/h (177 mph) to 300 km/h (186 mph). Green Car (first class) accommodation is not provided on HIKARI Rail Star services and most KODAMA services on the line, but is available in half of one car (Car No. 6) on the MIZUHO and SAKURA services. NOZOMI and MIZUHO trains cannot be used by foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass.

The Yaesu Central Entrance at Tokyo Station during the pre-dawn hours of the cold winter's morning

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen line ticketing gates in the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station near the Yaesu Central Entrance during the pre-dawn hours of the cold winter's morning

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the pre-dawn hours of the cold winter's morning

Tracks No. 14 and 15 serving some of the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station in the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

The logo of the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N5 (K5), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 1 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N5 (K5), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 1 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The departure information board for Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains departing from Tracks No. 14 and 15 at Tokyo Station during the pre-dawn hours of the cold winter's morning

The departure information board for Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains departing from Tracks No. 16 and 17 at Tokyo Station during the pre-dawn hours of the cold winter's morning

The logo of the 16-car JR Central N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. Z44 (X44), operating as the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 501 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 16 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. Z44 (X44), operating as the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 501 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 16 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C12, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 293 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 17 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C12, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 293 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 17 at Tokyo Station

Tracks No. 16 and 17 serving some of the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station in the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Tracks No. 18 and 19 serving some of the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N2, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N2, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 5 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

Tracks No. 18 and 19 serving some of the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station just as dawn begins to break over the station building

The departure information board for Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains departing from Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station, indicating that the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) is the first train to depart

Overlooking the other Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen tracks from Tracks No. 18 and 19 at Tokyo Station as dawn begins to break over the station

Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station shortly before the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) arrived at the station

After spending close to 15 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 18 and 19, a 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, which would operate as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), finally entered Tokyo Station at 6.37 a.m. on Track No. 18. Once the train doors were opened, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 8 and headed into Car No. 9, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, before settling down in my assigned Seat No. 14D for the long early morning trip duration of 5 hours 09 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Fukuoka.

The seat next to me, 14C, would remain vacant for the entire long early morning journey of 5 hours 09 minutes from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka). At exactly 6.50 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 7 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its very long early morning journey of 5 hours 09 minutes to the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Fukuoka located in the southern island of Kyushu. However, due to icy tracks between Nagoya and Kyoto, the train had to reduce speed, resulting in the service being delayed by approximately four minutes.

Fukuoka (福岡市) is a large major port city located on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. With a population of 1,520,783, as of 1 December 2014, it is the prefectural capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture, the largest and most populous city in the southern island of Kyushu and the sixth-largest city in the country. The city serves as a major and important gateway to Kyushu via Fukuoka Airport and its central railway terminal, Hakata Station, both located in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka. Fukuoka is well-known for its Hakata Ramen and its most lively Tenjin shopping district in Chuo-ku, Fukuoka.

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 東京駅に入線シーン

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), during the boarding process on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), during the boarding process on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

Getting ready to board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 18 at Hakata Station

A view of my seat, 14D, during the boarding process on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

Another front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), during the boarding process on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

Another rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), during the boarding process on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 18 at Tokyo Station

Awaiting departure from Tokyo Station

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 東京駅から新横浜駅間

Making a brief stop at Shin-yokohama Station

My beef tongue meal box (bento) as my breakfast purchased from the station kiosk at Tokyo Station before departure

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) for the Tokaido Shinkansen segment between Tokyo and Shin-osaka

Bypassing some housing areas in Asahi-ku, Yokohama, shortly after departing Shin-yokohama Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), from my seat between Shin-yokohama and Odawara Stations

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 for the Tokaido Shinkansen segment between Tokyo and Shin-osaka

Bypassing a large farming field in the suburban city of Atsugi

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Isehara, with Mount Fuji coming into view

A beautiful early morning view of Mount Fuji as the train speeds through the suburban city of Isehara

Crossing the Atsugi River between the suburban cities of Isehara and Hadano

Another beautiful early morning view of Mount Fuji as the train speeds through the suburban city of Hadano

Bypassing some hilly housing areas in the suburban town of Nakai

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 小田原 (通過) ~ 三島 (通過)

Bypassing some hilly housing areas in the suburban city of Mishima

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

A view of my seat, 14D, between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

Bypassing a factory workhouse in the suburban city of Fuji

Bypassing some workhouses and housing areas in the suburban city of Fuji

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

Passing through Shin-fuji Station

Crossing the Fuji River onto the city of Shizuoka

Crafting out my report for the in-bound segment between Tokyo and Hakata (Fukuoka) on my blog

Reading through the most hilarious quote in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on iBooks in my laptop ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

Bypassing some housing areas in a suburb of Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 静岡 (通過) ~ 浜松 (通過)

Bypassing a farming field in the suburban city of Hamamatsu

Crossing Lake Hamana bordering Shizuoka and Aichi Prefectures on a bright winter's morning

Bypassing a vegetable farming area in the sparse, rural city of Kosai

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Toyohashi

Passing through Toyohashi Station

Bypassing some warehouses in the suburban city of Toyohashi

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Anjo

Passing through Mikawa-anjo Station

Watching the most hilarious scene in "Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007)" on my laptop – Mr. Bean mimes the classical Italian song "O mio babbino caro" in a local French public market

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Chikusa-ku, Nagoya

The view of several downtown infrastructure in downtown Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, as the train approaches Nagoya Station

Making a brief stop at Nagoya Station

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 名古屋 (発車) ~ 岐阜羽島 (通過)

Bypassing some small office infrastructure in the suburban town of Wanouchi

Bypassing a large snow-covered field near the suburban city of Ogaki

Bypassing some warehouses and a snow forest near the suburban city of Ogaki

Bypassing a large snow-covered farming field between the border of Gifu and Shiga Prefectures

Bypassing some snow-covered warehouses in the suburban city of Maibara

Passing through Maibara Station

Bypassing a large snow-covered farming field in the suburban city of Maibara

Bypassing a large warehouse in the suburban city of Hikone

Bypassing some snow-covered housing areas in the suburban city of Omihachiman

Bypassing a snow-covered farming field in the suburban city of Kusatsu

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Yamashina-ku, Kyoto

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

A view of my seat, 14D, between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), from my seat between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

The view of the Hotel Granvia Kyoto as the train approaches Kyoto Station

Making a brief stop at Kyoto Station

Bypassing a JR Line depot near Nishi-oji Station shortly after departing Kyoto Station

Crossing the Katsura River onto the suburban city of Muko

Bypassing some clustered housing areas in the suburban town of Oyamazaki

Bypassing the Shinkansen Torikai Depot in the suburban city of Settsu

Several Shinkansen trains resting at the Shinkansen Torikai Depot in the suburban city of Settsu

Bypassing a housing apartment in downtown Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, as the train approaches Shin-osaka Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-osaka Station

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 新大阪駅から新神戸駅間

Making a brief stop at Shin-kobe Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), from my seat between Shin-kobe and Nishi-akashi Stations

Bypassing a railway yard in the suburban city of Akashi

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Akashi

Reviewing the on-board trolley refreshment service menu for the Sanyo Shinkansen line linking between Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka)

Passing through Nishi-akashi Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Kakogawa

Crossing the Kakogawa River between the suburban cities of Kakogawa and Himeji

Bypassing some suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Himeji

Making a brief stop at Himeji Station

A view of my seat, 14D, between Himeji and Aioi Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Himeji and Aioi Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Himeji and Aioi Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Aioi

Passing through Aioi Station

Bypassing some mountainside fields in the sparse, rural city of Ako

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), from my seat between Aioi and Okayama Stations

Bypassing a housing area in downtown Higashi-ku, Okayama

Bypassing a housing apartment in downtown Kita-ku, Okayama, as the train approaches Okayama Station

Making a brief stop at Okayama Station

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 岡山 (発車) ~ 福山 (通過)

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), from my seat between Fukuyama and Shin-onomichi Stations

Passing through Shin-onomichi Station

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka) for the Sanyo Shinkansen segment between Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka)

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 for the Sanyo Shinkansen segment between Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka)

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Mihara

Passing through Mihara Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Higashihiroshima

Passing through Higashi-hiroshima Station

Bypassing some sparse fields and housing areas in the suburban city of Higashihiroshima

Bypassing a mountainous forest between the cities of Higashihiroshima and Hiroshima

Bypassing several housing areas in Aki-ku, Hiroshima, as the train makes its final approach to Hiroshima Station

Making a brief stop at Hiroshima Station

Bypassing some housing areas in Minami-ku, Hiroshima, shortly after departing Hiroshima Station

About to cross the Ota River between Minami-ku and Naka-ku, Hiroshima

A view of my seat, 14D, between Hiroshima and Shin-iwakuni Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Hiroshima and Shin-iwakuni Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 7 bound for Hakata (Fukuoka), between Hiroshima and Shin-iwakuni Stations

Passing through Shin-iwakuni Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Iwakuni

Bypassing some suburban housing areas in the suburban city of Shunan near Tokuyama Station

Passing through Tokuyama Station

Bypassing some suburban housing areas in the suburban city of Shunan shortly after passing through Tokuyama Station

Bypassing a hilly mountain forest near the suburban city of Yamaguchi

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 新山口 (通過) ~ 小倉 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Kokura Station

N700系新幹線 N3編成 のぞみ7号 博多行き 小倉駅から終点博多駅間

After a very long early morning Shinkansen journey duration of 5 hours 13 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Hakata terminal station at 12.03 p.m. on Track No. 12, approximately four minutes behind schedule. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind on board, I alighted the train and headed down to the Shinkansen concourse prior to changing to another escalator down to the ticketing gates located near the Chikushi entrance to the station.

Arriving at the Shinkansen ticketing gates near the Chikushi entrance, I showed my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate and exited the station before setting Canal City Hakata as my first destination for my day trip in Fukuoka. With that, I went to the cab stand located outside the Chikushi entrance of Hakata Station and flagged the nearest cab down. The driver then got out of his cab and offered to help load my baggage into the boot of the cab while I got in. Soon enough, once everything was loaded, I finally departed Hakata Station at 12.15 p.m. for a short five-minute cab ride to Canal City Hakata.

Hakata Station (博多駅) is a major railway station located in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan. It is the central railway terminal serving the hustling and bustling major city of Fukuoka, and the largest and busiest railway terminal in the southern island of Kyushu. The station serves as the central gateway for passengers coming into Fukuoka from other parts of the country via railway, and a majority high-speed Shinkansen trains running in shorter 8-car formations offer through service to the Kyushu Shinkansen line as far as Kurume, Omuta, Kumamoto and Kagoshima-chuo Stations.

The station currently serves as the western terminus for the Sanyo Shinkansen line, and as the northern terminus for the Kyushu Shinkansen line. It also serves as a major interchange station for the Kagoshima Main Line, Nagasaki Main Line and Fukuoka City Subway Airport Line. Before the opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen line from Hakata to Shin-yatsushiro on 12 March 2011, the station underwent a major renovation process from 2009 to 2010, with the entire renovations completed on 3 March 2011 by the opening of a large shopping mall located directly above the station complex, JR Hakata City (JR博多シティ).

Canal City Hakata (キャナルシティ博多) is a major shopping and entertainment complex located in downtown Hakata-ku, Fukuoka. Opened on 20 April 1996, this shopping mall is well-known for being a "City within a city" and boasts a large number of restaurants, shops, cafeterias, game centres, cinemas and a theatre. Located in the very centre of Fukuoka's entertainment and shopping district, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city area. The mall houses the Grand Hyatt Hotel Fukuoka directly above its complex, and can be easily reached from Hakata Station via a five-minute taxi ride.

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving the southbound Kyushu Shinkansen trains bound for Kumamoto and Kagoshima-chuo and some of the eastbound Sanyo Shinkansen trains bound for Shin-osaka and Tokyo at Hakata Station during the early afternoon hours

The 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, now operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, now operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N3, now operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 30 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The departure information board for Sanyo & Kyushu Shinkansen trains departing from Tracks No. 11 and 12 at Hakata Station during the early afternoon hours

The Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Hakata Station during the early afternoon hours

Walking down the escalator down to the Shinkansen ticketing gates near the Chikushi entrance

The main station concourse located near the Chikushi entrance to Hakata Station

The Chikushi entrance to Hakata Station during the early afternoon hours

The black cab that would soon take me to Canal City Hakata from Hakata Station

Finally departing Hakata Station

About to cross underneath the Sanyo & Kyushu Shinkansen tracks near Hakata Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, towards Canal City Hakata on a bright winter's afternoon

Finally approaching Canal City Hakata on a bright winter's afternoon

After a short and quick cab ride of just five minutes from Hakata Station, I finally arrived at the cab stands located outside Canal City Hakata at 12.20 p.m.. Paying my cab fare, the driver offered to help unload my baggage from the boot of his cab, which I gladly accepted. Checking to see that I did not leave any of my belongings behind, I sincerely thanked the cab driver for his services and promptly went into the mall. Since I was feeling rather hungry already, I decided to eat first before commencing my Christmas shopping.

With that, I immediately headed over to the information board located near the escalators, and claimed a map detailing important information about the mall's floor layout. Knowing that most of the restaurants were located on the fourth floor, I took the escalators up to the fourth floor and looked at the restaurants carefully. Soon enough, I finally stumbled upon a local restaurant, known as Umaya (うまや), at 12.30 p.m.. I clearly remember having lunch here before in June 2014.

Entering the restaurant itself, I promptly requested for a non-smoking table for myself. Soon enough, a waitress offered to take care of my baggage at the counter, and directed me to an empty table before leaving me with the menus to make my reviews before placing my lunch orders. Once I was ready to eat, a waitress came by to my seat to take down my main meal order for lunch. I ordered a grilled beef tongue Teishoku meal set, a side order of grilled beef tongue and a glass of white wine. Soon enough, once all my meal orders were delivered, I had a nice and sumptuous beef tongue lunch at Umaya.

The main entrance to Canal City Hakata on a bright winter's afternoon

Gazing up to the upper levels of Canal City Hakata shortly after I entered the mall

The interior of the fourth floor housing most of the restaurants in Canal City Hakata

The exterior view of the Grand Hyatt Hotel Fukuoka as seen from Canal City Hakata on a bright winter's afternoon

Finally arriving at a notable local restaurant, Umaya Restaurant, where I had previously eaten for lunch in June 2014

The interior of Umaya Restaurant at Canal City Hakata during lunchtime hours

Reviewing the set menu at Canal City Hakata

A sumptuous grilled beef tongue Teishoku meal set with a glass of white wine for myself

After having a sumptuous and filling lunch of grilled beef tongue at Umaya Restaurant, the clock was finally showing 1.10 p.m.. Feeling rather stuffed already, I paid up my restaurant lunch bill and claimed my baggage before leaving the restaurant. Since I still had plenty of time left in Fukuoka, I decided to do some Christmas shopping around Canal City Hakata first. With that, I took the elevator all the way down to the first basement level of the mall and looked carefully through the shops to find a good one to shop at.

My mum previously informed me before the trip that we were in need for a good but sizeable Studio Ghibli Totoro statue for our house. Soon enough, I finally stumbled upon a local and notable department shop, known as La Boon, at 1.25 p.m.. Entering the department shop, I looked through the stores very carefully before eventually arriving at a notable Studio Ghibli shop, known as Donguri Republic (どんぐり共和国). Entering the store itself, I looked at the various items on display very carefully before making my selections.

At Donguri Republic itself, I purchased a sizeable Totoro coin bank, but this was to be used as a miniature statue for my living room back at home. Once I had purchased the intended Studio Ghibli Totoro item, I was beginning to feel like having some dessert. With that, I left the store at 1.35 p.m. and looked around the first basement level of the mall to see whether there were any ice cream parlours available. Soon enough, I finally stumbled upon a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlour at 1.40 p.m..

Entering the ice cream parlour itself, I immediately headed over to the main order counter and placed an order for two scoops of Chocolate Cookie-flavoured ice cream in a cup for myself. As soon as I had paid up for my ice cream, I immediately headed over to a nearby open table to have a rest for a while and enjoy my ice cream. At the same time, I got out my laptop to do some updating on my blog since it was still too early to be doing anything else around Canal City Hakata and throughout Fukuoka.

The main entrance to Umaya Restaurant on the fourth floor at Canal City Hakata during lunchtime hours

The exterior view of the Grand Hyatt Hotel Fukuoka as seen from Canal City Hakata on a somewhat cloudy winter's afternoon

The in-mall man-made canal located by the Grand Hyatt Hotel Fukuoka at Canal City Hakata

The overall view of the in-mall man-made canal at Canal City Hakata on the bridge to the Grand Hyatt Hotel Fukuoka

Finally arriving at a local souvenir department store, La Boon, in the first basement at Canal City Hakata

The exterior view of Donguri Republic (どんぐり共和国) in La Boon at Canal City Hakata

Finally arriving at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlour in the first basement at Canal City Hakata

A cup containing two scoops of Chocolate Cookie-flavoured ice cream from the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlour for myself at Canal City Hakata

After spending the early afternoon doing my Christmas shopping around Canal City Hakata, the clock was finally showing 2.05 p.m.. Knowing that my next destination would be JR Hakata City located directly above Hakata Station, I packed away my personal belongings and walked up the open-air staircase to the first level of Canal City Hakata. At the first level, I immediately headed to the nearest cab stand, which was located just outside the entrance to the mall.

Upon arriving at the cab stand located outside Canal City Hakata, I immediately flagged the nearest cab down, and informed the driver that my intended destination was JR Hakata City. The driver then got out and offered to help me load my baggage into the boot of his cab while I got on board for the journey to JR Hakata City. Soon enough, once everything had been loaded in, I finally departed Canal City Hakata at 2.10 p.m. for a short cab ride of just 10 minutes to JR Hakata City.

One last view of Canal City Hakata shortly before I headed out to the nearest cab stand located outside the entrance to the mall

The white cab that would soon take me to JR Hakata City from Canal City Hakata

Finally departing Canal City Hakata

Travelling along the busy roads of downtown Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, on the way to JR Hakata City

Turning into the cab stands located just outside JR Hakata City

Finally arriving outside JR Hakata City

After a short cab ride of just 10 minutes from Canal City Hakata, I finally arrived at the cab stands located outside JR Hakata City at 2.20 p.m.. Paying my cab fare, the driver offered to help me unload my baggage from the boot of his cab, which I gladly accepted. Checking to see that nothing had been left behind in the cab, I thanked the driver for his services and took the escalators up to the second floor before eventually heading into the main elevator lobby of the mall.

Reaching the elevator lobby, I decided to go all the way up to the 10th floor first and change to another set of escalators to the eleventh floor, as I wanted to enjoy the cool winter breeze of Fukuoka first. With that, I took the nearest elevator up to the 10th floor, arriving there at 1.35 p.m.. On the 10th floor, I walked to the escalators and went up to the 11th floor, where the open-air observation deck and mini-railway children's train ride were located, together with some open-air souvenir stores.

Once I had reached the 11th floor of JR Hakata City, I immediately went out into the open-air concourse and took a flight of stairs up to the observation area. At the observation area itself, I started to enjoy the cool winter breeze of Fukuoka, observing Hakata Bay, Fukuoka Airport and the rest of downtown Fukuoka at the same time. At the same time, I sat at an open-air table downstairs to have some rest since I was feeling slightly tired from my long early morning Shinkansen train journey from Tokyo.

The main entrance to JR Hakata City on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

Overlooking the cab stands and several downtown infrastructure from the second floor at JR Hakata City

The main entrance to Tokyu Hands at JR Hakata City on the second floor of the mall

The floor level information board by the elevators on the second floor at JR Hakata City

The entrance to Amu Plaza at JR Hakata City on the second floor

The tenth level housing some restaurants at JR Hakata City

The escalators linking to the open-air observation deck on the eleventh level on the tenth level at JR Hakata City

Finally arriving at the open-air observation floor on the 11th level at JR Hakata City

The view of Fukuoka Airport as seen from the observation deck at JR Hakata City on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

The view of Canal City Hakata as seen from the observation deck at JR Hakata City on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

The beautiful view of Hakata Bay as seen from the observation deck at JR Hakata City on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

The view of the ice-skating rink as seen from the open-air observation deck at JR Hakata City

The overall view of downtown Fukuoka as seen from the open-air observation deck at JR Hakata City

Another beautiful view of Hakata Bay as seen from the open-air observation deck at JR Hakata City on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

Another view of Fukuoka Airport as seen from the open-air observation deck at JR Hakata City on a relatively cloudy winter's afternoon

The view of the ice-skating rink from one of the open-air seating tables on the open-air 11th floor at JR Hakata City

After spending approximately 45 minutes of enjoying the cool winter breeze at the open-air observation area located on the 11th level of JR Hakata City, the clock was finally showing 3.25 p.m.. As I was beginning to feel rather hungry once again, I decided to have an early dinner before my long evening Shinkansen train journey back to Tokyo. Without wasting any time, I immediately took the escalators down to the tenth level, and changed to another set of escalators to access the ninth level, where more restaurants were located.

Soon enough, I finally stumbled upon a local restaurant specialising in grilled beef tongue, Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu (牛たん炭焼利久), at 3.35 p.m.. I remember eating at this particular restaurant very clearly in June 2013 and June 2014. Entering the restaurant, I immediately requested for a bar table by the kitchen. A waitress then offered to take care of my baggage at the cashier counter and directed me to an empty bar table located near the kitchen area before leaving me with the menus to make my reviews.

Once I was ready to eat, a waitress came by to my table to take down my dinner orders. I ordered myself a large grilled beef tongue Teishoku dinner set and a glass of white wine to accompany the meal. With my dinner orders delivered to my table in just 10 minutes, I took a bite out of the grilled beef tongue pieces. The grilled beef tongue tasted really succulent, with the taste melting just right inside my mouth. The white wine also went very well with my dinner, and I observed how skilful the chefs were in grilling the pieces of beef tongue.

About to take the escalators down to the tenth level from the 11th level at JR Hakata City

Looking through the various restaurants available on the tenth floor at JR Hakata City at Hakata Station

Looking through the various restaurants available on the ninth floor at JR Hakata City

Finally stumbling upon Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu (牛たん炭焼利久) on the ninth level at JR Hakata City at Hakata Station

The interior of Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu at JR Hakata City at Hakata Station

The set meal section of the food and beverage menu of Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu at JR Hakata City at Hakata Station

A few pieces of thickly-cut beef tongue grilling succulently on the charcoal barbecue griller at Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu

A glass of white wine for myself to accompany the upcoming main early dinner course

A small bowl of cold-cut beef tongue to start off the early dinner at Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu

Several pieces of thickly-sliced beef tongue grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller in the galley at Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu

A large grilled beef tongue Teishoku dinner set for myself at Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu

The interior of Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu at JR Hakata City at Hakata Station shortly before I headed back to the station

After having a sumptuous and filling early dinner of succulently grilled beef tongue at Gyutan Sumiyaki Rikyu, the clock was finally showing 4.20 p.m.. Knowing that it would soon be time to head back to Tokyo, I paid up my dinner bill and left the restaurant at 4.25 p.m. with my belongings before heading to the elevator lobby. For the evening return journey back to Tokyo, I would catch the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, which would be scheduled to depart Hakata Station at 5.48 p.m., and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 10.53 p.m..

Arriving at the main elevator lobby, I promptly took the nearest elevator all the way down to the first level of JR Hakata City, eventually arriving there by 4.30 p.m.. Walking through the main entrance to Hakata Station, I proceeded to the Shinkansen ticketing gates, where I quickly showed my 14-day Green-type Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate before entering the Shinkansen concourse. In the Shinkansen concourse itself, I went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo would depart from.

According to the train departure information board, the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo would be scheduled to depart at 5.48 p.m. from Track No. 12. Since it was still early before my long evening return journey back to Tokyo, I decided to do some train-spotting on Tracks No. 13 and 14 first before heading to Tracks No. 11 and 12. I then headed over to Tracks No. 11 and 12 at 5.20 p.m. in preparation for my upcoming long early evening Shinkansen train journey back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo in the Kanto region of the country.

The ninth floor housing most of the restaurants at JR Hakata City shortly before I made my way back down to Hakata Station

A beautiful Christmas miniature garden made out of green plants on the ninth floor at JR Hakata City

The elevator lobby linking to the other levels of JR Hakata City on the ninth floor

The elevator lobby linking to the upper floors on the first level at JR Hakata City

The main station concourse located near the entrance to JR Hakata City at Hakata Station during the early evening hours

The Shinkansen ticketing gates in the main station concourse at Hakata Station during the early evening hours

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

The departure information board for Sanyo Shinkansen trains departing from Tracks No. 13 and 14 at Hakata Station

The LED destination panel of the 8-car JR West 500 Series Shinkansen Set No. V9, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 754 bound for Okayama, on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The rear view of the reserved seating car on board the 8-car JR West 500 Series Shinkansen Set No. V9, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 754 bound for Okayama, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The front view of the reserved seating car on board the 8-car JR West 500 Series Shinkansen Set No. V9, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 754 bound for Okayama, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The logo of the 8-car JR West 500 Series Shinkansen Set No. V9, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 754 bound for Okayama, on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The 8-car JR West 500 Series Shinkansen Set No. V9, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 754 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N2, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 184 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 13 at Hakata Station

Tracks No. 13 and 14 serving some of the eastbound Sanyo Shinkansen trains bound for Shin-osaka and Tokyo at Hakata Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N2, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 184 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 13 at Hakata Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N2, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 184 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 13 at Hakata Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. N2, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 184 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 13 at Hakata Station

A 6-car JR Kyushu 800 Series Shinkansen Set No. U001, operating as the Shinkansen "TSUBAME" Superexpress No. 335 bound for Kumamoto, on Track No. 13 at Hakata Station

A 16-car JR Central N700A Series Shinkansen Set No. G12, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 54 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

Overlooking Tracks No. 15 and 16 at Hakata Station from Tracks No. 13 and 14 during the early evening hours

An 8-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. E13, operating on a Hakata-minami Line local service bound for Hakata-minami, on Track No. 15 at Hakata Station

A 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B5, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 186 bound for Tokyo, entering Hakata Station on Track No. 14

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B5, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 186 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B5, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 186 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B5, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 186 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B5, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 186 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Hakata Station

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving the southbound Kyushu Shinkansen trains bound for Kumamoto and Kagoshima-chuo and some of the eastbound Sanyo Shinkansen trains bound for Shin-osaka and Tokyo at Hakata Station during the early evening hours

The departure information board for Sanyo Shinkansen trains departing from Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z63, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 56 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The station name plate on Tracks No. 11 and 12 at Hakata Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z63, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 56 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

An 8-car JR West 500 Series Shinkansen Set No. V6, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 756 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 13 at Hakata Station

Track No. 12 at Hakata Station shortly before the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo arrived at the station

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 11 and 12, a 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), which would operate as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, finally entered Hakata Station at 5.35 p.m. on Track No. 12. Once the train doors were opened, I boarded the train via Car No. 9, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 7A for the long early evening return journey of 5 hours 05 minutes back to the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat next to me, 7B, would remain vacant for the entire long early evening return trip of 5 hours 05 minutes from Hakata (Fukuoka) to Tokyo. At exactly 5.48 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 58 finally pulled out of Hakata Station for its very long early evening journey of 5 hours 05 minutes to the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo located in the Kanto region of the country. I was then on my way for a long early evening return trip of 5 hours 05 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital city of Japan.

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 博多駅に入線シーン

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

A view of my seat, 7A, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The logo of the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

Getting ready to board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

Another front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

Another rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 12 at Hakata Station

Awaiting departure from Hakata Station

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 博多駅から小倉駅間

Making a brief stop at Kokura Station

My Green Car (first class) Shinkansen ticket for the return segment between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Tokyo

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 小倉 (発車) ~ 新山口 (通過)

Bypassing some suburban housing areas in the suburban city of Shunan at night

Passing through Tokuyama Station

Bypassing some suburban housing areas in the suburban city of Iwakuni at night

Passing through Shin-iwakuni Station

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 for the Sanyo Shinkansen segment between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Shin-osaka

Bypassing some housing areas by the Ota River between Naka-ku and Minami-ku, Hiroshima

Bypassing several urban infrastructure by a JR Line train yard in Minami-ku, Hiroshima, shortly after departing Hiroshima Station

Crafting out my essay report for the return segment to Tokyo on my blog

Reading through the most hilarious quote in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on iBooks in my laptop ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Higashihiroshima

Passing through Higashi-hiroshima Station

Travelling through a dark area in the suburban city of Higashihiroshima

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Higashi-hiroshima and Mihara Stations

A view of my seat, 7A, between Higashi-hiroshima and Mihara Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, between Higashi-hiroshima and Mihara Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, between Higashi-hiroshima and Mihara Stations

Passing through Mihara Station

Travelling through a dark area between the suburban cities of Mihara and Onomichi

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 福山 (通過) ~ 岡山 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Okayama Station

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 岡山駅から姫路駅間

Making a brief stop at Himeji Station

Crossing the Kakogawa River between the suburban cities of Himeji and Kakogawa at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Kakogawa at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Akashi at night

Passing through Nishi-akashi Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Nishi-akashi and Shin-kobe Stations

Making a brief stop at Shin-kobe Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Nishinomiya at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Amagasaki at night

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Nishiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, at night

Making a brief stop at Shin-osaka Station

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 新大阪駅から京都駅間

Making a brief stop at Kyoto Station

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Yamashina-ku, Kyoto, at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Otsu

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Kusatsu at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Omihachiman at night

A box of Jagariko potato sticks (じゃがりこ) and a small bottle of Coca-cola for myself purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service for the Tokaido Shinkansen segment between Shin-osaka and Tokyo

Passing through Maibara Station

A view of my seat, 7A, between Kyoto and Maibara Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, between Kyoto and Maibara Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, between Kyoto and Maibara Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Maibara at night

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Maibara and Gifu-hashima Stations

Bypassing some infrastructure in the suburban city of Ogaki at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Hashima at night

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Nagoya as the train approaches Nagoya Station

Making a brief stop at Nagoya Station

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 名古屋 (発車) ~ 豊橋 (通過)

Bypassing some suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Toyohashi late at night

Crossing Lake Hamana bordering Aichi and Shizuoka Prefectures at night

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 浜松 (通過) ~ 静岡 (通過)

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka, late at night

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Shizuoka and Shin-fuji Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka, late at night

Passing through Shin-fuji Station

Bypassing some housing areas close to the suburban city of Mishima at night

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 三島 (通過) ~ 小田原 (通過)

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Hadano at night

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, between Odawara and Shin-yokohama Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo, between Odawara and Shin-yokohama Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in Asahi-ku, Yokohama, as the train approaches Shin-yokohama Station

Making a brief stop at Shin-yokohama Station

N700系新幹線 N12編成 のぞみ58号 東京行き 新横浜駅から終点東京駅間

After a long early evening journey duration of 5 hours 05 minutes from the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu, I finally arrived back at the Tokyo terminal station at 10.53 p.m. on Track No. 16. Checking to see that I had not left any of my belongings behind on board, I alighted the train and took the escalators down to the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse before heading to the Shinkansen ticket gates located at the Yaesu North Entrance of the station.

By this time, most of the Shinkansen trains were taken out of service, as train service for the day had already ended. Upon reaching the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing gates near the Yaesu North Entrance, I showed my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate, and walked over to the Yaesu Central Entrance, where the cab stands were located. Reaching the Yaesu Central Entrance, I immediately headed over to the cab stand and hailed the nearest cab down.

The driver then got out of his cab and asked me where I was intending to head to at this late night hour. Informing him that I was about to head back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo, the driver offered to help me load my baggage into the boot of his cab, while I got on board for the late night road journey back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. Soon enough, once everything had been loaded into the cab, I finally departed Tokyo Station at 11.05 p.m. for a late night road trip of 15 minutes back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo located in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.

Tracks No. 16 and 17 with two out-of-service Shinkansen trains at Tokyo Station late at night

The 16-car JR West N700 (700A) Series Shinkansen Set No. N12 (K12), which previously operated as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 58 bound for Tokyo from Hakata (Fukuoka), on Track No. 16 at Tokyo Station

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the late night hours

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing gates located near the Yaesu North Entrance to Tokyo Station during the late night hours

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing concourse of Tokyo Station near the Yaesu North Entrance during the late night hours

The Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station during the late night hours

The cab stands located outside the Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station late at night

The white cab that would soon take me back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo from the Yaesu Central Entrance at Tokyo Station

Finally on the roads of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, shortly after departing Tokyo Station

Travelling on the roads of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, near the Marunouchi business district late at night

Travelling along the first phase of the Shuto Expressway located aft of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, late at night

Travelling along the Shuto Expressway close somewhere to downtown Toshima-ku, Tokyo, late at night

Travelling through a tunnel along the Shuto Expressway close to downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, late at night

Travelling on the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, during the late night hours on the way back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Going around the bend to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo late at night

Finally arriving back at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After a short late night road trip of just 15 minutes over the Shuto Expressway from Tokyo Station located in downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, I finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 11.20 p.m.. Paying my cab fare, the driver offered to help me in unloading my baggage from the boot of his cab. Checking to see that I did not leave any of my belongings behind, I thanked the driver for his services and immediately proceeded into the elevator lobby located in the main hotel lobby.

Once I arrived at the elevator lobby, I promptly took the nearest elevator up to the 26th floor and headed back to my Room No. 2602, eventually arriving back there before 11.30 p.m.. Entering the room itself, my younger brother welcomed me back and informed me that our parents had gone out to have a late dinner at a local sushi restaurant. He explained to me that while I was away on my long day trip to Fukuoka in Kyushu, he spent the day with my parents shopping around downtown Tokyo.

Since I was already feeling very tired from my long day trip to Fukuoka, I set my belongings aside and went to have a nice, hot shower before changing into my pyjamas for the night. I then set up all my electronic devices to be charged overnight, and spent some time talking to my younger brother about my day trip to Fukuoka, until our parents returned somewhere around slightly past midnight. By around one o' clock late that night, I finally turned in for a well-earned good night's rest.

Overall, I enjoyed my third day trip to Fukuoka, which was also my first time visiting Fukuoka at the end of the year, very much. I also enjoyed my long Shinkansen NOZOMI train ride to the city as well. Just like my previous NOZOMI train experiences, this was much better than the Korea Train Express (KTX) in South Korea and I would rate the NOZOMI service as one of the five-star Shinkansen train services I have ever been on. No Japan trip to the mainland Honshu would be complete without one or two rides on a Shinkansen NOZOMI train.

This officially brings the fourth segment of my 2014 Christmas special report about my end-of-year winter vacation to Japan in December 2014 to a formal conclusion. The fifth and last segment of the report will be published once I have managed to select the photographs and videos that are of the highest quality to make the report sound more interesting. Please do be patient as this requires time and effort to publish them.

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