Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Special Mid-Summer Birthday Vacation to Japan in June 2015 ~ Section 2

Welcome to the second segment of my special mid-summer birthday vacation to Japan in June 2015. This segment of the blog report will cover a total of two focus topics. They will mainly be spending my first day of the vacation visiting Kansai International Airport for the purpose of regional afternoon shopping, together with my first sightseeing day journey to Kanazawa located in the Hokuriku region via the newly opened Hokuriku Shinkansen line.

Part 1 ~ Spending My First Day Of Visiting Kansai International Airport

The next morning, which was Monday (1 June), I woke up at around 8.30 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. Getting up from bed, I went to have a nice, hot shower and changed into my attire before preparing my necessary belongings for the day. According to my annual Japanese railway itineraries, I had made a plan to make an mid-afternoon visit to Kansai International Airport on this first day, since my family had decided to stay around the downtown Osaka area to do some shopping.

As it was still rather early to do anything else, I decided to do some personal things on my laptop quietly first, and then leave the hotel at around 9.15 a.m. for Osaka Station located just across it. Given that I had yet to make my Green Car (first class) seat reservations in preparation for the trip, I decided to do so once I reached the nearest JR Ticket Office at Osaka Station. In order not to awaken my family members, I ensured very quietly to check that my electronics were charged for the trip to Kansai International Airport.

Osaka Station (大阪駅) is a major railway station located in the heart of the Umeda business district located in the hustle and bustle of downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan. It serves as the central railway terminal in the northern section of downtown Osaka, and is the fourth-busiest railway terminal in the world, together with being the largest and busiest railway terminal in the Keihanshin metropolitan area located in the Kansai region of the country. More than two million people transit through the station on a daily basis, especially during busy peak hours.

Operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West), Osaka Station currently serves as the western terminus for the JR Kyoto Line, and the eastern terminus for the JR Kobe Line, though most trains offer through service on the Tokaido Main Line to Kobe and Himeji. It also serves as a major interchange station with the Osaka Loop Line and Takarazuka Line (Fukuchiyama Line), and is directly connected with Umeda Station, Higashi-umeda Station, Nishi-umeda Station and Kita-shinchi Station.

The station serves as a mandatory stopping point for limited express trains heading to the San'in region, and as a starting point for limited express trains bound for the Hokuriku and Shin'etsu regions. Osaka Station underwent a major renovation process between 2007 and 2011, though Track No. 11 was re opened for regular passenger service on 20 December 2009. The renovations were completed on 4 May 2011, with the opening of a large shopping mall, Osaka Station City (大阪ステーションシティ), directly above the station complex.

After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 7 and 8, a 12-car 223 series EMU, operating as the 10.15 a.m. Special Rapid Service bound for Tsuruga via the Kosei Line, finally arrived at Osaka Station at 10.13 a.m. on Track No. 8. Once the train doors were opened, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 1, which was part of the train bound for Tsuruga, and settled in for the short morning rush journey duration of just 28 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto.

Once the clock struck precisely 10.15 a.m. sharp, all of the train doors were closed, and the Special Rapid Service train finally pulled out of Osaka Station for the remaining segment of its relatively long morning rush travel duration of 3 hours 03 minutes from Himeji to Tsuruga through the Kosei Line, with the last eight cars scheduled to terminate at Omi-imazu Station. I was then on my way for a very short and quick morning rush trip duration of 28 minutes to the historical capital city of Japan located slightly north of the Keihanshin metropolitan area.

After a short and quick morning rush travel duration of 28 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka, I finally arrived at Kyoto Station at 10.43 a.m. on Track No. 2. Checking to see that I did not leave any of my belongings behind, I alighted from the train and took the escalators up to the JR Line interchange concourse. Once I was in the JR Line interchange concourse, I immediately went to check the departure information board to see which platform number the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport would depart from.

According to the train departure information board in the JR Line interchange concourse, the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport would be scheduled to depart at 11.15 a.m. from Track No. 30. Without wasting time, I immediately took the escalator to the passageway leading to the San'in Main Line platforms, arriving at Tracks No. 30 to 34 at 10.50 a.m.. I then proceeded to Track No. 30 in preparation to catch the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport.

The Haruka (はるか) is the name of a dedicated limited express train service operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) between Kansai International Airport, Kyoto and Maibara in Japan. Dubbed the "Kansai Airport Limited Express" (関空特急) by JR West, the Haruka is the fastest train service linking Kansai International Airport with downtown Osaka and Kyoto, with a journey duration from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto taking 1 hour 15 minutes. The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced operations on 4 September 1994, in collaboration with the opening of Kansai International Airport, using a dedicated fleet of 3-car and 6-car 281 series EMUs at a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). Services are usually formed consisting of six cars, but the 3-car sets serve as additional add-ons for certain services requiring more than six cars. The service travels over the Tokaido Main Line (Kyoto Line), Osaka Loop Line, Hanwa Line and Kansai Airport Line, but uses the Umeda Freight Line between Shin-osaka Station and the Osaka Loop Line, leaving no services going to Osaka Station.

As of 14 March 2015, there are 24 daily return workings running in each direction, with most services stopping only at Tennoji and Shin-osaka Stations en route. Some services make additional stops at Hineno and Izumi-fuchu Stations during the early morning and evening rush hours or continue up to Maibara instead of terminating at Kyoto. Each service provides Green Car (first class) accommodation in Car No. 1 at the Kyoto & Maibara end. There are no extra charges required for the Haruka service for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass.

After spending almost 10 minutes worth of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 30 and 31, a 9-car 281 series EMU finally arrived at Kyoto Station at 11.01 a.m. on Track No. 30. The train had arrived from Kansai International Airport as the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 12 bound for Kyoto, and was to undergo extensive cleaning before it eventually became the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport. It took approximately 10 minutes to clean the entire interior of the train.

Once the entire cleaning process was completed, the in-car cleaning signs were removed at 11.11 a.m., allowing the passengers to board the train to Kansai International Airport. At that moment, I quickly boarded the train through Car No. 1, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 7A for the short early afternoon travel duration of 1 hour 19 minutes to Kansai International Airport located on the man-made artificial island surrounded by the waters of Osaka Bay.


281系 関空特急はるか21号 関西国際空港行き 京都駅に入線シーン

The 9-car 281 series EMU, now operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, undergoing an extensive cleaning process on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

The logo of the 9-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

Getting ready to board the 9-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

The 9-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 9-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, during the boarding process on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 9-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, during the boarding process on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

A view of my seat, 7A, during the boarding process on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 9-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 21 bound for Kansai International Airport, from my seat, during the boarding process on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

Awaiting departure from Kyoto Station

281系 関空特急はるか21号 関西国際空港行き 京都 (発車) ~ 高槻 (通過)

281系 関空特急はるか21号 関西国際空港行き 新大阪駅から天王寺駅間

281系 関空特急はるか21号 関西国際空港行き 北信太 (通過) ~ 関西空港 (到着)

Part 2 ~ Exploring The Sights Of Kanazawa Via The Hokuriku Shinkansen

The next morning, which was Tuesday (2 June), I woke up at precisely four o' clock after my mobile phone alarm blasted off early. Getting up from bed, I quietly went to have a shower and changed into my attire before preparing the remainder of my necessary belongings for the day. According to my Japanese train itineraries, I was to embark on a long Shinkansen train journey to Kanazawa via the newly-opened Hokuriku Shinkansen line, with a stopover in Tokyo.

For the in-bound trip to Kanazawa, I would be scheduled to catch the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, which would be scheduled to depart Shin-osaka Station at six o' clock, and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.23 a.m.. After arrival at Tokyo, I would have a long layover of approximately close to one hour before interchanging to the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 507 bound for Kanazawa, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 9.32 a.m., and arrive at the Kanazawa terminal station at 12.06 p.m..

I was getting more excited as this would be my first time ever to visit Kanazawa, and riding on the newly-opened Hokuriku Shinkansen line for the very first time. Since the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line from Nagano to Kanazawa on 14 March 2015, I had always wanted to hitch a ride on this new line on my future trips to Japan.

After a short early morning hotel cab ride of just 10 minutes from the InterContinental Hotel Osaka, I finally arrived at the Shinkansen entrance to Shin-osaka Station at 4.50 a.m.. While I checked to see that nothing had been left behind after paying my cab fare, the driver also helped to unload my baggage. Thanking the hotel cab driver for his services, I headed into the deserted Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing concourse, and then noticed that all the ticketing gates would only commence operations from 5.30 a.m. onwards.

While waiting for the Shinkansen ticketing gates to be opened, I decided to have a rest and sort out my belongings in the ticketing concourse first. Slightly more passengers gradually began to show up from five o' clock onwards. Soon enough, the Shinkansen ticketing gates were finally opened at 5.30 a.m.. Showing my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate to the ticketing officer, I went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo would depart from.

According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, which serves as the first eastbound train service from Shin-osaka to Tokyo, would be scheduled to depart at six o' clock from Track No. 26. Without wasting time, I immediately took the escalators to Tracks No. 25 and 26, where a 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), which would soon be operating as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, was waiting on Track No. 26. Boarding was to commence at 5.43 a.m., 17 minutes ahead of departure.

NOZOMI (のぞみ) is the fastest Shinkansen 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 some stretch stations on the Sanyo Shinkansen line from Shin-osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka). The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), with the fastest service taking 2 hours 22 minutes between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, and 4 hours 47 minutes between Tokyo and Hakata (Fukuoka).

The service commenced operations on 14 March 1992, initially using 300 series sets at a top speed of 270 km/h (170 mph), until they were finally phased out from revenue services on 16 March 2012. From 22 March 1997, 500 series sets were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), allowing the fastest journey duration from Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka) to take only 2 hours 17 minutes and 4 hours 49 minutes from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka). However, the last 500 series NOZOMI run took place on 28 February 2010, marking the withdrawal of 500 series sets from these services.

From 13 March 1999, 700 series sets were introduced on these services at a top speed of 285 km/h (177 mph), displacing the earlier 16-car 300 series sets used on through Tokyo-to-Hakata (Fukuoka) services. From 1 July 2007, N700 series sets were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), just like the earlier 500 series sets. All through regular NOZOMI services between Tokyo and Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka) were operated by 16-car N700 series sets from the start of the revised timetable on 13 March 2010.

From the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, all regularly scheduled NOZOMI services, including runs truncated to the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, were operated by N700 series sets. All services operated by N700 series sets are entirely non-smoking, with smoking permitted only in segregated smoking areas located in Cars No. 3, 7, 10 and 15. The NOZOMI service is not valid for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass. To use the service, both the basic fare and Shinkansen express charge must be paid, together with the Green Car (first class) surcharge when using a Green Car (first class) seat.


The cab drop-off area located outside the Shinkansen entrance to Shin-osaka Station as dawn breaks over the station

The Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the wee hours of the early morning

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing gates in the Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the wee hours of the early morning

The Shinkansen train departure information board in the Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the wee hours of the early morning

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen ticketing gates in the Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station being opened for passengers to board the first trains of the day

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Shin-osaka Station during the wee hours of the early morning

Finally arriving at Tracks No. 25 and 26 at Shin-osaka Station

The departure information board for eastbound Tokaido Shinkansen trains bound for Nagoya and Tokyo departing from Tracks No. 25 and 26 at Shin-osaka Station

The departure information board for eastbound Tokaido Shinkansen trains bound for Nagoya and Tokyo departing from Track No. 26, indicating that the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo would be the first eastbound train daily

The logo of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

Getting ready to board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z11 (X11), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 202 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 25 at Shin-osaka Station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z11 (X11), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 202 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 25 at Shin-osaka Station

Tracks No. 25 and 26 at Shin-osaka Station shortly before boarding for the first eastbound trains bound for Tokyo commenced

After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on both Tracks No. 25 and 26, the doors of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), which would operate as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, were finally opened at 5.43 a.m.. Without wasting anymore time, I boarded the train through Car No. 9, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, and went into my assigned Seat No. 5A for the very early morning journey duration of 2 hours 23 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat next to me, 5B, would remain vacant for the entire early morning journey duration of 2 hours 23 minutes from Shin-osaka to Tokyo. Once the clock struck exactly six o' clock sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 200 finally pulled out of Shin-osaka Station for its early morning journey of 2 hours 23 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo located in the centre of the Kanto region of the country. I was then on my way for an early morning travel duration of 2 hours 23 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital city of Japan.


The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

A view of my seat, 5A, during the boarding process on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 26 at Shin-osaka Station

Reading through the most hilarious quote in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on iBooks in my laptop, where Harry's Uncle Vernon throws a temper tantrum after Harry tells Dudley to say 'please' to get more breakfast ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

Awaiting departure from Shin-osaka Station

N700系新幹線 Z42編成 のぞみ200号 東京行き 新大阪駅から京都駅間

Making a brief stop at Kyoto Station

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

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Yamashina-ku, Kyoto

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

Bypassing a large rice paddy farming field in the suburban city of Kusatsu

Bypassing a large open meadow in the suburban city of Omihachiman

Bypassing some clustered housing settlements in the sparse, rural city of Hikone

Passing through Maibara Station

Bypassing a large rice paddy farming field in the suburban city of Maibara

A view of my seat, 5A, between Maibara and Gifu-hashima Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, between Maibara and Gifu-hashima Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, between Maibara and Gifu-hashima Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Maibara and Gifu-hashima Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Ogaki

Passing through Gifu-hashima Station

Bypassing some houses and a farming field in the suburban city of Hashima

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 Z42編成 のぞみ200号 東京行き 名古屋 (発車) ~ 豊橋 (通過)

N700系新幹線 Z42編成 のぞみ200号 東京行き 浜松 (通過) ~ 静岡 (通過)

N700系新幹線 Z42編成 のぞみ200号 東京行き 三島 (通過) ~ 熱海 (通過)

N700系新幹線 Z42編成 のぞみ200号 東京行き 新横浜駅から終点東京駅間

After an early morning journey duration of 2 hours 23 minutes from the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka in western Japan, I finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.23 a.m. on Track No. 14. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind on board, I alighted the train and took the escalators down to the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse, proceeding to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen interchange ticketing gates at the same time to show my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate.

Entering the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen concourse at 8.30 a.m., I quickly went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 507 bound for Kanazawa would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 507 bound for Kanazawa would be scheduled to depart at 9.32 a.m. from Track No. 21. Though it was still early prior to my connecting Shinkansen train to Kanazawa, I took the escalators up to Tracks No. 21 and 22 at 8.35 a.m. to do some Shinkansen train-spotting.

KAGAYAKI (かがやき) is the name of a high-speed Shinkansen train service operated jointly by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and West Japan Railway Company (JR West) via the Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Kanazawa in Japan. It is currently the fastest train service operating on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, with the fastest travel timing linking between Tokyo and Kanazawa taking 2 hours 28 minutes. The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph).

The service commenced operations on 14 March 2015, in collaboration with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line between Nagano and Kanazawa, using a dedicated fleet of 12-car E7 series and W7 series sets, each operating at a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph). These trains feature Gran Class accommodation in Car No. 12, located at the Kanazawa end, seating 18 passengers in a 2-1 configuration, making the E7 series and W7 series sets the second and third Shinkansen trains in Japan to feature such luxurious accommodations after the E5 series sets on the Tohoku Shinkansen line.

As of 14 March 2015, there are a total of 10 daily return workings operated in each direction, with most services making stops only at Omiya, Nagano and Toyama Stations en route. All seats are reserved and non-smoking, due to the popularity and high consumer demand for the fast train service between the Greater Tokyo Area and the Hokuriku region. While there are no extra charges for the KAGAYAKI for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass, the use of luxury Gran Class accommodation requires the Shinkansen express charge and Gran Class surcharge.

The Hokuriku Shinkansen (北陸新幹線) is a Japanese high-speed Shinkansen railway line linking the Greater Tokyo Area in the Kanto region with Kanazawa located in the Hokuriku region of Honshu, Japan. As the name implies, the line passes through the more sparsely populated areas located in the Hokuriku region, and runs parallel to the coastline of the Sea of Japan between Joetsu-myoko and Itoigawa Stations in Niigata Prefecture. The line has a maximum top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph).

The line was opened on 1 October 1997 initially between Tokyo and Nagano, with the line being known as the Nagano Shinkansen (長野新幹線), with ASAMA services commencing using 8-car E2 series sets at a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph). These trains sport pearl white for the upper body and navy blue for the lower body, separated by a bright red stripe and a pink and blue wing-shaped logo. From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2014, new 12-car E7 series sets commenced service at top speeds of 260 km/h (160 mph).

From the start of the revised timetable on 14 March 2015, the extension between Nagano and Kanazawa was finally opened, with the line's official name changed to the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. New 12-car E7 series and W7 series sets also commenced operations on the newly-introduced KAGAYAKI, HAKUTAKA and TSURUGI services at top speeds of up to 260 km/h (160 mph). Besides being operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), the line is also jointly operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) beyond Joetsu-myoko Station.

As of 14 March 2015, the 8-car E2 series sets, 12-car E7 series sets and W7 series sets operate on the various KAGAYAKI, HAKUTAKA, ASAMA and TSURUGI services at top speeds of up to 260 km/h (160 mph), with the TSURUGI service functioning as a shuttle service between Toyama and Kanazawa, and the ASAMA service still operating as far as Nagano. With the 12-car E7 series and W7 series sets being capable of going as far as Kanazawa, the existing 8-car E2 series sets still retained on some ASAMA services as far as Nagano.

Tokyo Station (東京駅) is a large major railway terminal complex located in the centre of the Marunouchi business district in the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is the central intercity rail terminal serving the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo, and one of the busiest rail terminals in the Greater Tokyo Area, with more than 4,000 trains departing and arriving at the station on a daily basis. Serving as the starting point for Japan's national flagship high-speed Shinkansen trains, it underwent a renovation process from mid-2007 to late 2012, with the renovations finally completed in October 2012 after the old Marunouchi station building was re-opened. The station houses a Daimaru Department Store directly above its complex.

Other than serving as a start point for most Shinkansen trains, the station also serves as a major terminal station for the Chuo Main Line, Tokaido Main Line, Ueno-Tokyo Line (Tohoku • Takasaki • Joban Line), Yokosuka Line, Sobu Main Line and Keiyo Line. Tokyo also serves as an interchange station for the Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line, and the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. From 14 March 2015, the Ueno-Tokyo Line was opened, allowing through services to the Joban Line, Tohoku Main Line (Utsunomiya Line) and Takasaki Line to commence and reducing the travel duration to Omiya Station by 11 minutes.


Looking back at the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), which previously operated as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

Tracks No. 14 and 15 serving some of the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen trains bound for Nagoya, Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka) at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The logo of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z42 (X42), which previously operated as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 200 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

The Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen concourse at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

A 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U13, operating as the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 43 bound for Morioka, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

A 10-car E5 Series Shinkansen Set No. U13, coupled with a 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z23 and operating as the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 43 bound for Morioka, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

A 7-car E6 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z23, operating as the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 43 bound for Morioka, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

The logo of an out-of-service 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W10, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 500 bound for Tokyo from Kanazawa, on Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station

An out-of-service 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W10, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 500 bound for Tokyo from Kanazawa, on Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station

A 10-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. J51, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen "YAMABIKO" Superexpress No. 129 bound for Sendai, arriving at Tokyo Station on Track No. 22

A 7-car E3 Series Shinkansen Set No. L67, which would operate as the Shinkansen "TSUBASA" Superexpress No. 129 bound for Yamagata, arriving at Tokyo Station on Track No. 22

An 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 605 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station. I clearly remember riding on this particular train twice in June 2014 and December 2014

The logo of the 8-car E2 Series Shinkansen Set No. N7, now operating as the Shinkansen "ASAMA" Superexpress No. 605 bound for Nagano, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

A 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F1, operating as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 523 bound for Kanazawa, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F1, operating as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 523 bound for Kanazawa, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F1, operating as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 523 bound for Kanazawa, on Track No. 20 at Tokyo Station

The departure information board for Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen trains departing from Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station

Track No. 21 at Tokyo Station shortly before the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 507 bound for Kanazawa arrived at the station

After spending close to 45 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 20 and 21, a 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W5 finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 9.20 a.m. on Track No. 21. The train had arrived from Kanazawa as the Shinkansen HAKUTAKA Superexpress No. 552 bound for Tokyo, and was to undergo an extensive cleaning process before becoming the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 507 bound for Kanazawa. It took less than 10 minutes to clean the inside of the train.

Once the whole inside of the train was cleaned up completely, the train doors were opened again at 9.27 a.m., allowing the passengers to board the train for their morning journeys on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 11, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 8A for the morning travel duration of 2 hours 34 minutes to the mid-sized urban port city of Kanazawa located in the Hokuriku region of the country.

At this point, I could not wait for my first ride on the newly-opened Hokuriku Shinkansen line to begin, with the seat next to me, 8B, remaining empty for the entire morning journey from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Once the clock struck exactly 9.32 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 507 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its early morning journey of 2 hour 34 minutes to Kanazawa. I was then on my way for an early morning journey of 2 hours 34 minutes to the mid-sized urban port city of Kanazawa in the Hokuriku region.










After a morning journey duration of 2 hours 34 minutes from the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo in the Kanto region, I finally arrived at the Kanazawa terminal station at 12.07 p.m. on Track No. 13, approximately a minute behind schedule, due to some faulting incident on a train ahead at Toyama Station. Checking to see that I had not left anything on board, I alighted from the train and headed down the escalator to the Shinkansen concourse before heading over to the Shinkansen ticketing gates.

Kanazawa Station (金沢駅) is a major railway station located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. It is the main railway station serving the city of Kanazawa, and also the largest and busiest railway terminal in Ishikawa Prefecture and the Hokuriku region. The station is known for its Tsuzumi drum-shaped gate located at its east entrance, and serves as a major interchange station for the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, Hokuriku Main Line, Nanao Line (although the line officially starts at Nanao) and IR Ishikawa Railway Line.

The station was opened for passenger service on 1 April 1898, initially serving the Hokuriku Main Line and Nanao Line, with the station built to its current state by the late 1990s. From 14 March 2015, the station became the northwestern terminus for the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, allowing travel durations to Tokyo to take 2 hours 30 minutes. From the same date, the Hokuriku Main Line beyond Kanazawa was transferred to three different third-sector railway companies, resulting in Kanazawa becoming the terminus for the Hokuriku Main Line.

Kenroku-en (兼六園) is an old private nature garden located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan.

For the evening return trip to back to Osaka, I would catch the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 512 bound for Tokyo, which would be scheduled to depart Kanazawa Station at 5.52 p.m., and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.24 p.m.. After arrival at Tokyo, I would have a 35-minute layover before connecting to the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 265 bound for Shin-osaka, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 9.23 p.m., and arrive back at the Shin-osaka terminal station at 11.45 p.m..

After spending 1 hour 50 minutes of train-spotting and anticipated waiting on both Tracks No. 11 and 12, a 12-car E7 Series Shinkansen Set No. F16, which would operate as the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 512 bound for Tokyo, finally entered Kanazawa Station at 5.43 p.m. on Track No. 12. Once the train doors were opened, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 11, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 13D for the upcoming early evening return trip duration of 2 hours 32 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat next to me, 13C, would remain vacant for the entire early evening return journey of 2 hours 32 minutes between Kanazawa and Tokyo. At exactly 5.52 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen KAGAYAKI Superexpress No. 512 finally pulled out of Kanazawa Station for its early evening journey duration of 2 hours 32 minutes to the very lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo in the Kanto region. I was then on my way for an early evening return travel duration of 2 hours 32 minutes back to the very lively hustle and bustle of the national capital city of Japan.

After a quick early evening journey duration of 2 hours 32 minutes from the mid-sized urban port city of Kanazawa in the Hokuriku region, I finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.24 p.m. on Track No. 20. Checking that I had not left anything behind, I alighted from the train and took the escalator down to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen concourse before heading to the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen interchange ticket gates. Showing my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate, I quickly went to check to see which platform the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 265 bound for Shin-osaka would depart from.

According to the departure information board, the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 265 bound for Shin-osaka, which serves as the last westbound Shinkansen train service from Tokyo to Shin-osaka, would be scheduled to depart at 9.23 p.m. from Track No. 14. Without wasting anymore time, I took the escalator up to Tracks No. 14 and 15 at 8.40 p.m. in preparation for the late evening return trip back to Osaka. I then did some of my normal Shinkansen train-spotting activities while waiting for the last westbound Shinkansen train service to Shin-osaka.

After spending approximately 20 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 14 and 15, a 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z28 (X28), which would soon operate as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 265 bound for Shin-osaka, finally arrived at Tokyo Station at nine o' clock on Track No. 14. 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 headed to my assigned Seat No. 11D for the evening return journey duration of 2 hours 22 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka in western Japan.

The seat next to me, 11C, would remain vacant for the entire late evening return journey of 2 hours 22 minutes between Tokyo and Shin-osaka. Once the clock struck exactly 9.23 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 265 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its late evening return journey of 2 hours 22 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka in western Japan. I was then on my way for a quick late evening return trip of 2 hours 22 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka located in the centre of the Keihanshin metropolitan area.

Overall, my first day trip to Kanazawa and my first ride on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line via the KAGAYAKI service have both proven to be very pleasant experiences. Just as with the NOZOMI service on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines and the HAYABUSA service on the Tohoku Shinkansen line, the KAGAYAKI service deserves five stars, and was better than the Korea Train Express (KTX) in South Korea. I shall not hesitate to go for another rail trip on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line to Kanazawa again when I get the chance to do so.

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