Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Special Mid-Summer Birthday Vacation to Japan in June 2015 ~ Section 4

Welcome to the third segment of my special mid-summer birthday vacation to Japan in June 2015. This segment of the report will cover a total of three sections. They will mainly be my mini-shopping trip to Narita International Airport cum Family Day in Tokyo and another mini-shopping trip to Kansai International Airport cum high-end tempura dinner in Kyoto, together with the Shinkansen journey to Fukuoka and the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Fukuoka.

Part 1 ~ Narita International Airport Cum Family Day In Downtown Tokyo

My dad and younger brother, on the other hand, had plans to explore the most notable and lively shopping district of Akihabara located in the heart of downtown Tokyo. In order to gain access to Tokyo in the morning, they would be scheduled to catch the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 514 bound for Tokyo, which would leave Shin-osaka Station at 9.16 a.m., and arrive at the Tokyo terminal station at 12.10 p.m.. They were in luck as I had made the reservations for them in advance at Universal City Station two days earlier.

HIKARI (ひかり) is a major high-speed Shinkansen train service operating on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. Slower than the limited-stop NOZOMI service, but faster than the all-stations KODAMA service, the HIKARI is the fastest train service on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines that can be used with the Japan Rail Pass. The service generally stops along the tourist stretches between major cities on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines, and is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).

The service commenced operations on 1 October 1964, in collaboration with the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen line, using 0 series sets at a maximum top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), until they were finally retired on 14 December 2008 after 44 years worth of passenger service. From 1985 and 1992, 100 series sets and 300 series sets were introduced on these services at speeds ranging from 230 km/h (143 mph) to 270 km/h (170 mph) until they were both decommissioned from regular passenger service on 16 March 2012.

From 1 October 2000, 700 series sets were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 285 km/h (177 mph), gradually displacing the older 100 series sets and 300 series sets used. From 15 March 2008, N700 series sets were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), starting with a one-way early morning working from Shin-yokohama to Hiroshima. There is no smoking permitted on these services, with segregated smoking areas available in Cars No. 3, 7, 10 and 15 of the 16-car formation.

On 11 March 2000, a special promotional service, known as HIKARI Rail Star (ひかりレールスター), was introduced by West Japan Railway Company (JR West). This service is limited to the Sanyo Shinkansen line, and is designed to compete with domestic airliners between Osaka and Fukuoka. It uses special 8-car 700 series sets at a top speed of 285 km/h (177 mph), and sport a grey body with a black stripe running across the windows, separated by a sunny yellow stripe running just below the window linings.

Though there is no Green Car (first class) accommodation available on these services, the reserved seating cars are arranged in a 2-2 configuration. However, with the opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen line between Hakata (Fukuoka) and Shin-yatsushiro, many HIKARI Rail Star services are gradually being replaced with newer SAKURA services, which can provide more through service Kagoshima. From the start of the revised timetable on 17 March 2012, HIKARI Rail Star services using the special 8-car 700 sets became entirely non-smoking.

After spending about 35 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 23 and 24, a 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B9, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 506 bound for Tokyo, finally entered Shin-osaka Station at 6.16 a.m. on Track No. 23. Once the train doors were opened, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 8, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, and settled in my assigned Seat No. 1A at the rear of the cabin for the long early morning journey duration of 3 hours 13 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat adjacent to me, 1B, would remain vacant for the entire long early morning journey duration of 3 hours 13 minutes from Shin-osaka to Tokyo. Once the clock struck exactly 6.27 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 506 finally pulled out of Shin-osaka Station for its early morning journey duration of 3 hours 13 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo located in the Kanto region of the country. I was then on my way for an early morning travel duration of 3 hours 13 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital city of Japan.

After spending approximately 1 hour 05 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 16 and 17, a 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C32 finally arrived at Tokyo Station at 7.47 p.m. on Track No. 17. The train had just arrived from Shin-osaka as the Shinkansen KODAMA Superexpress No. 670 bound for Tokyo earlier, and was to undergo extensive cleaning prior to becoming the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 533 bound for Shin-osaka. It took approximately less than 15 minutes to clean the entire train's interior cabin.

Once the whole in-car cleaning process was completed, the train doors were finally opened at eight o' clock, allowing the passengers to board the train to Shin-osaka. Without wasting anymore time, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 7 and went into Car No. 8, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, before settling into my assigned Seat No. 7D for the rainy evening return journey duration of 3 hours 13 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka in western Japan.

The seat next to me, 7C, would remain empty for the entire evening return trip from Tokyo to Shin-osaka. Once the clock struck exactly 8.03 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen HIKARI Superexpress No. 533 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its long and rainy early evening return journey duration of 3 hours 13 minutes to the hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka located in western Japan. I was then on my way for a long evening return journey duration of 3 hours 13 minutes back to the hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka.

Part 2 ~ Another Mini-Shopping Trip To Kansai International Airport

After spending approximately 45 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 30 and 31, a 6-car 281 series EMU finally arrived at Kyoto Station at 2.02 p.m. on Track No. 30. The train had arrived from Kansai International Airport as the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 84 bound for Kyoto earlier, and was to undergo an extensive cleaning process before becoming the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 27 bound for Kansai International Airport. The entire cleaning process took approximately less than 10 minutes.

After spending approximately half an hour of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 3 and 4, a 6-car 281 series EMU finally arrived at Kansai Airport Station at 6.06 p.m. on Track No. 4. The train had arrived from Kyoto as the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 33 bound for Kansai International Airport earlier, and was to undergo extensive cleaning before eventually becoming the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 bound for Kyoto. It took about less than 10 minutes to clean the entire train.

Once the entire cleaning process was completed, the train-cleaning signs were removed at 6.14 p.m., allowing all the passengers to board the train bound for Kyoto. Without wasting anymore time, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 1, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 8C for the early evening journey duration of 1 hour 15 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto located to the north of Osaka in the Keihanshin metropolitan area.

I was to be the only passenger in the Green Car (first class) cabin for the entire journey from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto. Once the clock struck exactly 6.16 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 finally pulled out of Kansai Airport Station for its short early evening journey duration of 1 hour 16 minutes to the hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto. I was then on my way for a short early evening journey duration of 1 hour 16 minutes to the historical capital city of Japan.

Tenichi (天一).

Part 3 ~ The Journey To The ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Fukuoka

After spending about 15 minutes worth of anticipated waiting on Track No. 20, an 8-car JR Kyushu N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. R4, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen SAKURA Superexpress No. 549 bound for Kagoshima-chuo, finally arrived at Shin-osaka Station at 9.10 a.m. on Track No. 20. Once all the train doors were opened, we boarded the train via Car No. 6, and went into the Green Car (first class) cabin. Stowing our baggage at the rear of the train, we settled into our assigned Seats No. 12C, 12D, 13C and 13D for the morning journey of 2 hours 46 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Fukuoka.

I was to be seated with my younger brother, who was seated in Seat No. 13C, for the entire morning journey duration of 2 hours 46 minutes from Shin-osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka). Once the clock struck exactly 9.18 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen SAKURA Superexpress No. 549 finally pulled out of Shin-osaka Station for its long morning travel duration of 4 hours 23 minutes to the mid-sized urban port city of Kagoshima located at the southern tip of the southern island of Kyushu. We were then on our way for a morning journey duration of 2 hours 46 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Fukuoka.

12.04 p.m. on Track No. 15.

Rooms No. 1403 and 1424

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