Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 Christmas Special: End-of-Year Christmas Winter Vacation to Japan in December 2015 ~ Section 3

Welcome to the third section of this year's Christmas special report detailing my end-of-year winter vacation to Japan in December 2015. There will be two main focus topics that will be covered in this third segment of the entire 2015 Christmas special report. They shall mainly be spending a westward day of sightseeing at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and dining in downtown Osaka in the Keihanshin metropolitan area located in western Japan, and the afternoon journey from the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand.

Part 1 ~ Spending A Westward Day Of Sightseeing And Dining In Osaka

In the wee hours of the next morning, which was Tuesday (8 December), I woke up early at around 4.30 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. Since it was still too early to do anything, I did some personal online surfing on my laptop in the living room very quietly and headed downstairs to the hot spring bathroom for a nice, hot bath at five o' clock. Upon having a bath, I went back upstairs to the living room to change into my attire. Today, I was to be undertaking a westbound day trip to Osaka, according to my railway plans.

As for the in-bound early morning journey to Osaka, I would be scheduled to catch the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, which would be expected to leave Echigo-yuzawa Station at 7.08 a.m., and arrive at Tokyo Station at 8.40 a.m.. After arrival at Tokyo, I would have a relatively long layover of approximately 50 minutes before connecting to the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo Station at 9.53 a.m., and arrive at the Shin-osaka terminal station at 12.30 p.m..

I was lucky since I had managed to make my seat reservations a couple of days before the trip, and that I had also arranged for a cab to take me from the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa to Echigo-yuzawa Station the previous day. Soon enough, I had all my belongings ready in preparation for the long early morning trip to Osaka at 5.45 a.m., with every single portable electronic device ready too. My dad, who woke up at around six o' clock later, also offered to open and unlock the front entrance once he had seen me off.

Soon enough, my pre-arranged cab to Echigo-yuzawa Station ultimately arrived at the front entrance to the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa at 6.10 a.m.. With my dad seeing me off at the front entrance, the driver got out of the cab and offered to load my baggage into the cab boot, while I got in for the early morning trip to Echigo-yuzawa Station. Soon enough, in just few seconds, I finally departed the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa for a short early morning cab trip of just five minutes to Echigo-yuzawa Station.

My pre-arranged cab to Echigo-yuzawa Station waiting outside the front entrance to the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

Finally departing the area close to the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

Travelling past some lodges on route to Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

Finally arriving at the West Entrance to Echigo-yuzawa Station

After a short pre-dawn early morning cab trip of not more than five minutes from the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa, I finally arrived at the West Entrance to Echigo-yuzawa Station at 6.15 a.m.. Checking to see that I had left nothing behind in my seating area, I paid up my fare while the driver got out to help me unload my baggage from the cab boot. Thanking the cab driver for his services, I went into the station concourse and headed to the Shinkansen ticketing gates to show my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed Shinkansen ticketing gate.

I also went to check which platform the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo would depart from. According to the departure information screens, the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo would depart at 7.08 a.m. from Track No. 11. With that, I took the escalators up to Tracks No. 11 and 12 at 6.20 a.m., finding two coupled 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Sets No. P7 and P21, operating as the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, waiting on Track No. 11. Boarding was also to commence at 6.51 a.m., approximately 17 minutes before the scheduled departure timing.

TANIGAWA (たにがわ) is a major high-speed train service operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Tokyo and Echigo-yuzawa via the Joetsu Shinkansen line in Japan. Stopping at every station en route, it is the slowest service on the Joetsu Shinkansen line, and provides high-speed commuter service between downtown Tokyo and Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture. A typical trip from Tokyo to Echigo-yuzawa takes 1 hour 28 minutes, with the service beginning and ending at the seasonal Gala-yuzawa Station during the winter seasons. The service is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph).

The service commenced operations on 1 October 1997, initially using 10-car 200 series sets at a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph), until they were retired from regular passenger service on 15 March 2013. E1 series sets were also used on certain services, which were classified as Max TANIGAWA services, until they were retired from revenue service on 28 September 2012. From 20 December 1997, E4 series sets were introduced on certain services as Max TANIGAWA services at a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph), with certain services using two sets being coupled together to form as 16 cars.

From 26 January 2013, E2 series sets were introduced on these services at a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph), replacing the remaining 200 series sets used on regular services on the Joetsu Shinkansen line by 15 March 2013. Certain services also feature non-reserved seating, except Green Car (first class) seats, during the early morning and late night hours to cater to commuters residing in the areas between Tokyo and Niigata Prefectures. There are no extra charges required for the TANIGAWA service for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass.

The main ticketing concourse at Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

The Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

The Shinkansen ticketing gates at Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

The Shinkansen concourse leading to the platforms at Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

The overall view of the Shinkansen platforms at Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

Tracks No. 11 and 12 serving the Joetsu Shinkansen trains bound for Niigata and Gala-yuzawa at Echigo-yuzawa Station at the crack of dawn

The 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

The 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P21, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

The two 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Sets No. P7 and P21, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, joined together on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

The LED destination panel of the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

Getting ready to board the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

After spending almost half an hour of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 11 and 12, the train doors of the two coupled 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Sets No. P7 and P21, operating as the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, were ultimately opened at 6.51 a.m.. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 7, and headed into the Green Car (first class) located on the upper deck, before settling into my assigned Seat No. 25D for the short and quick early morning trip of 1 hour 32 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat next to me, 25C, would remain empty for the entire early morning trip of 1 hour 32 minutes from Echigo-yuzawa to Tokyo. At exactly 7.08 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 402 ultimately pulled out of Echigo-yuzawa Station for its early morning trip of 1 hour 32 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo. I was then on my way for a short and quick early morning trip of 1 hour 32 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 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

A view of my seat, 27D, during the boarding process on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

The overall view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 11 at Echigo-yuzawa Station

Awaiting departure from Echigo-yuzawa Station

E4系新幹線 P7編成 Maxたにがわ402号 東京行き 越後湯沢駅から上毛高原駅間

Making a brief stop at Jomo-kogen Station

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

Bypassing an open farming field in the sparse, rural town of Higashiagatsuma

About to intersect with the Hokuriku Shinkansen tracks as the train gets nearer to Takasaki Station

Intersecting with the Hokuriku Shinkansen tracks near Takasaki Station

Making a brief stop at Kumagaya Station

Bypassing some housing apartments in the suburban city of Takasaki shortly after departing Takasaki Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Honjo as the train approaches Honjo-waseda Station

Making a brief stop at Honjo-waseda Station

A 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W1, operating as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 500 bound for Tokyo from Kanazawa, bypassing my train at Honjo-waseda Station

A view of my seat, 27D, between Honjo-waseda and Kumagaya Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, between Honjo-waseda and Kumagaya Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, between Honjo-waseda and Kumagaya Stations

The overall view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Honjo-waseda and Kumagaya Stations

Bypassing some housing areas by a warehouse in the suburban city of Kumagaya

Making a brief stop at Kumagaya Station

The overall view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, from my seat between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

A view of my seat, 27D, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 402 bound for Tokyo, between Kumagaya and Omiya Stations

Bypassing some housing settlements by a large farming field in the suburban city of Okegawa

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Kita-ku, Saitama, as the train gets nearer to the Tohoku Shinkansen intersection tracks

Intersecting with the Tohoku Shinkansen tracks near Omiya Station

Making a brief stop at Omiya Station

E4系新幹線 P7編成 Maxたにがわ402号 東京行き 大宮駅から上野駅間

Making a brief stop at Ueno Station

E4系新幹線 P7編成 Maxたにがわ402号 東京行き 上野駅から終点東京駅間

After a short and quick early morning trip of 1 hour 32 minutes from the popular winter ski resort town of Yuzawa, I finally arrived at the Tokyo terminal station at 8.40 a.m. on Track No. 23. Checking to see that I had left nothing behind, I alighted from the train and took the escalator to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen concourse before I headed to the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen interchange ticketing gates to show my one-week Green-type Japan Rail Pass at the staffed Shinkansen interchange ticketing gate.

Entering the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse at 8.45 a.m., I headed to check which platform the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka would be scheduled to depart from. According to the departure information screens, the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka would depart at 9.53 a.m. from Track No. 15. Given that it was still early, I headed to the nearby station kiosk to purchase a grilled beef tongue meal box first before taking the escalators up to Tracks No. 14 and 15 to catch my train to Osaka, eventually reaching the platforms at 8.50 a.m..

NOZOMI (のぞみ) is the fastest high-speed train service operating on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. The service generally stops only at Shinagawa, Shin-yokohama, Nagoya and Kyoto Stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, and at a few stretch stations on the Sanyo Shinkansen line between Shin-osaka and Hakata (Fukuoka). The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), with the fastest services taking 2 hours 22 minutes between Tokyo and Shin-osaka, and 4 hours 47 minutes between Tokyo and Hakata (Fukuoka).

The service commenced passengers operations on 14 March 1992, using 300 series sets at a maximum top speed of 270 km/h (170 mph), until they were finally retired from passenger service by 16 March 2012. From 22 March 1997, 500 series sets were introduced on these services at a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), allowing the fastest trips from Shin-osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka) to take 2 hours 17 minutes, and 4 hours 49 minutes from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka). However, between 2008 and 2010, these sets were downgraded to eight cars for Sanyo Shinkansen KODAMA services, and were retired from premium NOZOMI services on 28 February 2010.

From 13 March 1999, 700 series sets were introduced on these services at a top speed of 285 km/h (177 mph), replacing the earlier 300 series sets used on through services from Tokyo to Hakata (Fukuoka). 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, with all through regular NOZOMI services bound for Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka) operated by 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 operations 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 in segregated smoking areas in Cars No. 3, 7, 10 and 15. The NOZOMI service is not valid for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass, and requires both the basic fare and Shinkansen express charge, along with the Green Car (first class) surcharge when using a Green Car (first class) seat.

The Tokaido Shinkansen (東海道新幹線) is a major Japanese high-speed Shinkansen rail line connecting the ultra-modern metropolitan cities of Tokyo and Osaka in Honshu, Japan. Operated by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), it is the oldest Shinkansen line in Japan, and the most heavily-travelled high-speed railway line in the world, with some 5.3 billion passengers using on the line on a daily basis from 1964 to 2012. Passing through the sparsely-populated areas in Central Japan, the line has a maximum top speed of 285 km/h (177 mph).

The line was opened for service on 1 October 1964, in collaboration with the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with the first generation trains running at speeds ranging between 210 km/h (130 mph) and 270 km/h (170 mph). From 1 October 2003, Shinagawa Station was added to the line to relieve overcrowding at the neighbouring Tokyo Station, boosting the number of daily NOZOMI services on the line. From the start of the revised timetable on 15 March 2008, Shinagawa and Shin-yokohama Stations became mandatory stopping points for all Tokaido Shinkansen services.

The line celebrated its 50th anniversary on 1 October 2014, with its maximum top speed also raised from 270 km/h (170 mph) to 285 km/h (177 mph) from the start of the revised timeatble on 14 March 2015. As of 14 March 2015, th 16-car 700 series and N700 series sets operate on the various NOZOMI, HIKARI and KODAMA services at speeds ranging between 270 km/h (170 mph) to 285 km/h (177 mph) on the entire line. NOZOMI services are not viable for tourists travelling on the Tokaido Shinkansen line with a Japan Rail Pass.


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

The logo of the 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Set No. P7, now operating as the Shinkansen "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 309 bound for Echigo-yuzawa, on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

The two 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Sets No. P7 and P21, now operating as the Shinkansen "Max TOKI" & "Max TANIGAWA" Superexpress No. 309 bound for Niigata and Echigo-yuzawa, joined together on Track No. 23 at Tokyo Station

An out-of-service 12-car W7 Series Shinkansen Set No. W1, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "KAGAYAKI" Superexpress No. 500 bound for Tokyo from Kanazawa, on Track No. 21 at the Tokyo terminal station

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

The Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse of Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

A kiosk selling boxed meals, snacks and beverages in the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse at Tokyo Station during the early morning rush hour

Finally arriving at Tracks No. 14 and 15 at Tokyo Station

The logo of a 16-car JR Central N700A Series Shinkansen Set No. G15, operating as the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 465 bound for Okayama, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central N700A Series Shinkansen Set No. G15, operating as the Shinkansen "HIKARI" Superexpress No. 465 bound for Okayama, on Track No. 14 at Tokyo Station

The logo of a 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B11, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 641 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B11, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 641 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

A 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C43, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 215 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 16 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C43, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 215 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 16 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C43, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 215 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 16 at Tokyo Station

The train departure information board for Tokaido Shinkansen trains departing from Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station, indicating that the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka would be the second train to depart from Track No. 15

The LED destination panel of a 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C45, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 708 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at the Tokyo terminal station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C45, operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 708 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 14 at the Tokyo terminal station

The logo of a 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z33 (X33), operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 643 bound for Nagoya, on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station. I seem to remember riding on this particular train as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 60 bound for Tokyo from Shin-osaka in May & June 2010

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central N700 Series Shinkansen Set No. Z33 (X33), operating as the Shinkansen "KODAMA" Superexpress No. 643 bound for Nagoya, on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station shortly before the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka arrived at the station

After spending approximately 40 minutes of anticipated waiting on both Tracks No. 14 and 15, a 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, finally entered Tokyo Station at 9.30 a.m. on Track No. 15. Once the train doors were opened, I promptly boarded the train via Car No. 7 and went into Car No. 8, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, before settling down into my assigned Seat No. 17D for the early afternoon trip of 2 hours 37 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka.

The seat adjacent to me, 17C, would remain vacant for the entire afternoon trip of 2 hours 37 minutes from Tokyo to Shin-osaka. Once the clock struck exactly 9.53 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 317 finally pulled out of Tokyo Station for its early afternoon trip of 2 hours 37 minutes to the busy and lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka located in western Japan. I was then on my way for an early afternoon journey duration of 2 hours 37 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka located in the centre of the Keihanshin metropolitan area.

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ317号 新大阪行き 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 Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

Getting ready to board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

Another front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

Another rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

A view of my seat, 17D, during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 15 at Tokyo Station

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

Reading through the most hilarious sentence in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" via iBooks, where Harry's Uncle Vernon throws a temper tantrum at the breakfast table after Harry tells Dudley to say 'please' to obtain more bacon as a form of manners 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 Tokyo Station

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ317号 新大阪行き 東京駅から新横浜駅間

Making a brief stop at Shin-yokohama Station

A grilled beef tongue bento meal box for myself

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

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

Bypassing a large rice paddy farming field in the suburban town of Nakai

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban town of Oiso

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ317号 新大阪行き 小田原 (通過) ~ 三島 (通過)

Bypassing a forest and some small shrines in the suburban city of Mishima

A view of my seat, 17D, between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, from my seat between Mishima and Shin-fuji Stations

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

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Fuji

Passing through Shin-fuji Station

Crossing the Fuji River on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

A beautiful view of Mount Fuji on a bright and clear winter's afternoon as the train crosses the Fuji River

A bottle of Coca-cola and a box of Jagariko (じゃがりこ) potato sticks, together with a bottle of mineral water, for myself

Bypassing some suburban housing areas in downtown Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ317号 新大阪行き 静岡 (通過) ~ 浜松 (通過)

Bypassing a green farming field near the suburban city of Hamamatsu

Crossing Lake Hamana between the border of Shizuoka and Aichi Prefectures

A view of my seat, 17D, between Hamamatsu and Toyohashi Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Hamamatsu and Toyohashi Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Hamamatsu and Toyohashi Stations

Bypassing some suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Kosai

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Toyohashi

Passing through Toyohashi Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, from my seat between Toyohashi and Mikawa-anjo Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Toyokawa

Bypassing a large farming field between the suburban cities of Okazaki and Anjo

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Anjo

Passing through Mikawa-anjo Station

Bypassing a large farming field in the suburban city of Anjo

A view of my seat, 17D, between Mikawa-anjo and Nagoya Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Mikawa-anjo and Nagoya Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Mikawa-anjo and Nagoya Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, from my seat between Mikawa-anjo and Nagoya Stations

Bypassing several suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Kariya

Several tall infrastructure located in downtown Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, as the train approaches Nagoya Station

Making a brief stop at Nagoya Station

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ317号 新大阪行き 名古屋 (発車) ~ 米原 (通過)

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Maibara

Bypassing a large farming field in the suburban city of Hikone

Bypassing a large farming field in the suburban city of Omihachiman

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Yasu

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Otsu

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

A view of my seat, 17D, between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka, from my seat between Maibara and Kyoto Stations

The view of the Kyoto Tower as the trains approaches Kyoto Station

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

Making a brief stop at Kyoto Station

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ317号 新大阪行き 京都駅から終点新大阪駅間

After an early afternoon journey of 2 hours 37 minutes from the busy and lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Shin-osaka terminal station at 12.30 p.m. on Track No. 22. Checking to see that nothing had been left behind in the cabin, I quickly alighted from the train and took the escalators down to the Shinkansen concourse of the station before heading to the Shinkansen ticketing gates, reaching there by 12.35 p.m.. It was there that I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed ticketing gate.

Exiting the Shinkansen ticketing concourse, I went to the cab stands situated on the other side of the station building, where I rolled up behind some other passengers to get a nearby cab, given that my very first destination in Osaka would be the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, having last visited the aquarium nine years ago. Once my turn to hail a cab came, I quickly told the driver to take me to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. With my baggage loaded into the cab boot, I finally departed at Shin-osaka Station at 12.40 p.m. for an afternoon trip of half an hour to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku near Osaka Bay.

Shin-osaka Station (新大阪駅) is a major interchange railway terminal complex situated in downtown Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, Japan. It serves one of the main railway terminals serving Osaka and the Keihanshin metropolitan area, making it one of the busiest railway stations in western Japan. The station serves as the western terminus for the Tokaido Shinkansen line, and the eastern terminus for the Sanyo Shinkansen line, with train services for the Kyushu Shinkansen also beginning and ending here in shorter 8-car formations.

The station was opened for passenger service on 1 October 1964, in collaboration with the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen line, due to construction issues for Shinkansen trains coming into the city centre. Other than serving the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines, the station also serves as an interchange station for the Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) and the Osaka Municipal Subway Midosuji Line. Most Shinkansen trains from offer direct service to the Sanyo Shinkansen at Shin-osaka, also continuing as far as Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka).

An additional eastbound Shinkansen platform serving Tokaido Shinkansen trains for Tokyo, Track No. 27, was opened to ease overcrowding at the existing platforms from 16 March 2013. Other than serving the Shinkansen lines, most limited express trains bound for the Kii Peninsula and the San'in region also start and terminate here. The station also serves as a mandatory stop point for the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka trains linking to Kansai International Airport. The station is expected to serve the Osaka Higashi Line from 2018.

The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館) is a large public aquarium located near Osaka Bay in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, Japan. Located just adjacent to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, it is one of the largest public aquariums in the world and is accessible via a short five-minute walk from Osakako Station on the Osaka Municipal Subway Chuo Line. Opened in 1990, its largest tank holds 5,400 cubic metres of water, also housing approximately 29,000 animals, notably with two whale sharks and several manta rays in its largest tank.

Tracks No. 21 and 22 serving some of the Tokaido, Sanyo & Kyushu Shinkansen trains bound for Okayama, Hiroshima, Hakata (Fukuoka) and Kagoshima-chuo at Shin-osaka Station during the early afternoon rush hour

Looking back at the out-of-service 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka from Tokyo, on Track No. 22 at the Shin-osaka terminal station

The logo of the out-of-service 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, which previously operated as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 317 bound for Shin-osaka from Tokyo, on Track No. 22 at the Shin-osaka terminal station

The train departure information board for the westbound Shinkansen trains bound for Okayama, Hiroshima and Kyushu on Tracks No. 21 and 22 at Shin-osaka Station during the early afternoon rush hour

An out-of-service 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B1, which previously operated as a chartered school trip service, on Track No. 20 at the Shin-osaka terminal station

The logo of the out-of-service 16-car JR West 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. B1, which previously operated as a chartered school trip service, on Track No. 20 at the Shin-osaka terminal station

The Shinkansen concourse of Shin-osaka Station leading to the platforms during the early afternoon rush hour

The Shinkansen ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The cab stands located outside the Shinkansen entrance to Shin-osaka Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The black cab that would soon take me to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan from Shin-osaka Station

Finally departing Shin-osaka Station

Travelling across the Hanshin Expressway near downtown Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, shortly after departing Shin-osaka Station

Crossing the Yodo River between downtown Yodogawa-ku and Kita-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling across a flyover to the Hanwa Expressway in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, while approaching a toll gate

Travelling past some downtown infrastructure in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, on the Hanshin Expressway on a clear and bright winter's afternoon

Travelling across the curved sections of the Hanwa Expressway near downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

Travelling across the diverging flyover from the Hanwa Expressway to downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, close to the direction leading to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Travelling along the roads of downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, with the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan coming into the background

Finally arriving at the massive steps leading to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

After a bright early afternoon cab ride of approximately 40 minutes from Shin-osaka Station in downtown Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, I finally arrived at the drop-off point near the big steps to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan at 1.10 p.m.. Paying my cab fare, I checked my seating area to see that nothing had been left behind while the cab driver helped to unload my baggage from the boot. Thanking the cab driver for her kind and warm services, I took the big steps up to the ticketing booth of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, arriving there by 1.15 p.m..

I then went to purchase a one-day adult ticket to visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan for the afternoon. Since I was excited for my visit to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan for the first time in nine years, I headed to the aquarium's front main entrance, where my one-day ticket was automatically scanned before I took the elevator up to the second floor to commence my aquarium tour at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. I then spent the rest of the entire afternoon at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, viewing various sea creatures on display in their various tanks.

In the main atrium of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan itself, there were various sea creatures and freshwater marine animals on display in their tanks, including Asian small-clawed otters and freshwater fish, with good views of Osaka Bay. The highlight of my aquarium day would then be the large fish tank holding 5,400 cubic metres of seawater, observing two very large whale sharks and the arctic North Pole section, as if I was like being in a kingdom under the sea. It was then that I suddenly realised that the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan was better than the COEX Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea.

About to take the big steps up to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's morning

The exterior view of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's afternoon

The exterior view of the Tempozan Ferris Wheel in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's afternoon

My one-day adult ticket to visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The interior of the passageway leading to the upper aquarium tank levels on the second floor at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

A beautiful view of Osaka Bay facing the Port of Osaka from the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

The miniature of the miniature underwater tunnel displaying small reef sharks in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Two small nurse sharks swimming in the miniature underwater tunnel display in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Taking the long escalators up to the upper levels of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Overlooking Osaka Bay near the Port of Osaka as I make my way up to the upper levels of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Stopping at the Asian small-clawed otter enclosure in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The aquatic creature sign displaying information about the Asian small-clawed otters in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Three Asian small-clawed otters in their aquarium enclosure in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

An aquarium worker about to feed the Asian small-clawed otters in their aquarium closure with fish

Stopping at the sea lions and seals section of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Two furry seals resting in their enclosure in the sea lions and seals section of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Several penguins waddling about in their glass tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

A large aquarium tank housing some small fish in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Several varieties of fish swimming about in their aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

A large whale shark swimming below me in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The massive saltwater aquarium fish tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

A manta ray swimming beside me in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Another massive whale shark swimming gracefully beside me with its belly slightly upwards in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

One of the massive whale sharks swimming beside me in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The two massive whale sharks swimming gracefully in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

A school of several small fish swimming close to the two massive whale sharks in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

One of the massive whale sharks swimming gracefully on its own in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The massive saltwater aquarium fish tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan as I continue my tour across the aquarium to the lower levels

One of the massive whale sharks swimming gracefully with some smaller fishes in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The signboard by the massive saltwater aquarium tank indicating that this particular tank holds 5,400 tons of seawater in the Osak Aquarium Kaiyukan

One final view of the massive whale shark swimming gracefully in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The two manta rays swimming close to the whale shark in the massive saltwater aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The three Japanese spider crabs sitting about in their aquarium tank in the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Taking the escalator up to the Arctic Circle section of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The beautiful view of Osaka Bay from the Arctic Circle section of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's afternoon

Stopping at the Arctic Circle section of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan as my last aquarium stop for my day visit

After spending the afternoon of experiencing a wonderful and wanderous Kingdom Under the Sea at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, the clock was finally showing 2.20 p.m.. Taking the elevator back down to the first floor given that my entire aquarium tour for the day was already completed, I exited the aquarium through the main ticketing gates and went to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel before taking the escalators down to the cab stands located just adjacent to the Tempozan Harbor Village.

Hailing the nearest cab down, I immediately informed the driver, who could speak English, that my next intended destination was Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) since I was to be getting a early Christmas present for my parents in celebration of the upcoming Christmas festive season. The driver then assisted me in loading my baggage into the boot of his cab while I got in for the trip to Hankyu San-Bangai in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, near Osaka Station. With everything loaded in, I finally departed the Tempozan Harbor Village at 2.35 p.m. for a mid-afternoon cab trip of 35 minutes to Hankyu San-Bangai in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, near Osaka Station.

The ticketing booths and entrance to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's afternoon shortly before I departed for Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka

The exterior view of the Tempozan Ferris Wheel in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's afternoon shortly before I departed for Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka

The exterior view of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a clear and bright winter's afternoon shortly before I departed for Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka

The black cab that would soon take me to Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, from the Tempozan Harbor Village in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka

Finally departing the Tempozan Harbor Village in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka

Travelling along the roads of downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Fukushima-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

Travelling along the roads of downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, on a bright and clear winter's afternoon

About to bypass underneath Osaka Station in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka

Bypassing some shopping malls and luxury hotels in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka, near Osaka Station

Finally arriving at Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) in downtown Kita-ku, Osaka

After a short afternoon cab trip of 35 minutes from the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan located in downtown Minato-ku, Osaka, I finally arrived at the cab stands at Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街) at 3.10 p.m.. Paying my cab fare, the driver helped to unload my baggage from the cab boot, while I checked to see that I had not left anything behind on board. Thanking the driver for his kind and warm services, I looked through the various stores available carefully before selecting the store that would be the most suited for my Christmas shopping.

Soon enough, I managed to stumble upon a notable local Studio Ghibli merchandise store, known as Donguri Republic (どんぐり共和国). Entering the store itself, I looked across the various merchandise available before selecting the Christmas presents that would be the most suited for my parents' Christmas presents. At Donguri Republic itself, I purchased a few Studio Ghibli-themed jigsaw puzzles and Totoro purses. Upon purchasing my Christmas merchandise at Hankyu San-Bangai (阪急三番街), I was starting to become hungry for some early dinner.

With that moment, I walked across the busy pedestrian street of the Umeda business district and went into Osaka Grand Front before taking the elevator up to the overhead pedestrian bridge linking from Osaka Grand Front to Osaka Station City. Reaching Osaka Station City, I quickly took the nearest elevator up to the tenth floor, where much of the restaurants in the shopping mall were located, eventually arriving there by 4.35 p.m.. Once I was on the tenth floor, I browsed through the many restaurants available before selecting the one that would attract my tastes and preferences.

After spending approximately 1 hour 25 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 23 and 24, a 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, finally entered Shin-osaka Station at 6.50 p.m. on Track No. 24. Once the train doors were opened, I boarded the train via Car No. 8, which was one of the Green Car (first class) coaches, and settled down into my assigned Seat No. 1A for the early evening return trip of 2 hours 33 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo.

The seat next to me, 1B, would remain vacant for the early evening return trip of 2 hours 33 minutes from Shin-osaka to Tokyo. Once the clock struck precisely 7.10 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen NOZOMI Superexpress No. 408 finally pulled out of Shin-osaka Station for its early evening trip of 2 hours 33 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo in eastern Japan. I was then on my way for an early evening return trip of 2 hours 33 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of the national capital city of Japan.

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ408号 東京行き 新大阪駅に入線シーン

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

The logo of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

The LED destination panel of the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

Getting ready to board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

Another front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

Another rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, during the boarding process on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

A view of my seat, 1A, during the boarding process on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 16-car JR Central 700 Series Shinkansen Set No. C48, operating as the Shinkansen "NOZOMI" Superexpress No. 408 bound for Tokyo, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

Planning out the return trip on my blog on Track No. 24 at Shin-osaka Station

Reading through the most hilarious sentence in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" via iBooks, where Harry's Uncle Vernon throws a temper tantrum at the breakfast table after Harry tells Dudley to say 'please' to obtain more bacon as a form of manners 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

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ408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 Yamashina-ku, Kyoto, late at night

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Otsu late at night

Bypassing some housing areas and suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Kusatsu

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Omihachiman

Bypassing some housing areas and suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Hikone

Passing through Maibara Station

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

Bypassing a rural farming area near the suburban city of Ogaki at night

Bypassing some suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Hashima late at night near Gifu-hashima Station

Passing through Gifu-hashima Station

Bypassing some suburban infrastructure in the suburban city of Hashima late at night shortly after passing through Gifu-hashima Station

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, as the train approaches Nagoya Station at night

Making a brief stop at Nagoya Station

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ408号 東京行き 名古屋 (発車) ~ 豊橋 (通過)

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ408号 東京行き 浜松 (通過) ~ 静岡 (通過)

700系新幹線 C48編成 のぞみ408号 東京行き 新横浜駅から終点東京駅間

After an early evening return trip of 2 hours 33 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka, I finally arrived back at the Tokyo terminal station at 9.43 p.m. on Track No. 16. Checking that I had not left anything behind on board, I promptly alighted from the train and took the escalators back down to the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen concourse before heading to the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen interchange ticket gates. At the Shinkansen interchange ticketing gates, I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed interchange ticketing gate.

Upon entering the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen concourse at 9.50 p.m., I went to see which platform number the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 417 bound for Echigo-yuzawa would depart from. According to the departure information screens in the Tohoku, Joetsu & Hokuriku Shinkansen concourse itself, the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 417 bound for Echigo-yuzawa would depart at 10.24 p.m. from Track No. 20. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly took the escalators up to Tracks No. 20 and 21 to catch the last train to Echigo-yuzawa, eventually reaching there by 9.55 p.m..

After spending approximately 20 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 20 and 21, two 8-car E4 Series Shinkansen Sets No. P5 and P15, which would soon operate as the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 417 bound for Echigo-yuzawa, ultimately entered Tokyo Station at 10.16 p.m. on Track No. 20. Once the train doors were opened, I boarded the last train to Echigo-yuzawa via Car No. 7, and went up to the Green Car (first class) cabin, before settling down in my assigned Seat No. 25A for the late evening return trip of 1 hour 28 minutes back to the popular winter ski resort town of Yuzawa.

The seat next to me, 25B, would remain vacant for the entire evening return trip of 1 hour 28 minutes from Tokyo to Echigo-yuzawa. At exactly 10.24 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Shinkansen Max TANIGAWA Superexpress No. 417 ultimately pulled out of Tokyo Station for its short late evening trip of just 1 hour 28 minutes to the sparse, rural and popular winter ski resort town of Yuzawa. I was then on my way for a short, quick evening return trip of 1 hour 28 minutes to the sparse, rural and popular winter skiing resort town of Yuzawa.

Part 2 ~ The Journey To The InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

After spending three days of trains and relaxations in the popular skiing winter resort town of Yuzawa, it was finally time to head to Yokohama to spend the remainder of the holiday. On the early morning of Wednesday (9 December), I woke up at around 8.30 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. Packing up the remainder of my belongings, I went to have a nice, hot shower and changed into my attire for the day. Noticing that I was still tired from my railway trips for the past three days, including the previous day, my parents decided that I should follow them in the car to Yokohama.

This was to give me a break from my railway schedule and to help me get some rest before my luxurious northbound journey to Aomori the next day. I was lucky since I had not made any reservations for the journey to Yokohama. Packing the remainder of our baggage, we checked the entire second floor area to see that nothing had been left unpacked area before laying our baggage out in the first floor near the front entrance to the lodge. We then had some light beverages near the kitchen area so that we would be more hydrated for the long road drive to Yokohama.

The view of the ski elevator leading to the ski mountain peak from the second floor living room in the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

The view of the open skiing hill at the ski mountain base from the second floor living room in the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

After spending the rest of the entire early morning packing up our baggage for the road trip to Yokohama, we were ready to depart the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa at 9.30 a.m.. My dad then went to get our rented car to the front main entrance of the lodge with our car, while we all brought our baggage out to the front door to have them loaded in for the trip to Yokohama. Once my dad had arrived at the front entrance to the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa, we helped to load our baggage into the car boot before boarding for the trip to the ultra-modern satellite port city of Yokohama.

Once everything had been loaded into the car boot of our rented silver Europcar, we finally left the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa at 9.55 a.m. for a bright and long early afternoon road trip of 3 hours 40 minutes to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand, stopping at some rest stations for lunch on route. In conclusion, the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa was decent on the first two levels, though the last two levels of the lodge were quite filthy and musty. Though it was alright, I think we came too early since there was no snow upon our arrival.

Our rented silver Europcar car waiting outside the front entrance to the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

Overlooking the Joetsu Shinkansen viaduct just before we departed the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

Finally departing the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

Bypassing the Yuzawa Grand Hotel shortly after departing the Onsen Ryokan Koizumiya Yuzawa

About to cross underneath the Joetsu Shinkansen viaduct near Echigo-yuzawa Station

Intersecting with the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway shortly after departing Yuzawa

Bypassing a mountain forest in the popular winter ski resort town of Yuzawa on the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

Travelling between the mountains in the popular winter ski town of Yuzawa on a bright winter's day

Travelling across the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway on route between Yuzawa and Nakanojo

Stopping at a rest station near the sparse, rural town of Nakanojo along the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

The exterior view of the rest station in the sparse, rural town of Nakanojo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

The main entrance to the rest station in the sparse, rural town of Nakanojo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

Bypassing some sparse housing areas in the suburban town of Higashiagatsuma

Travelling along the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway near the suburban city of Honjo

Stopping at a rest station in the suburban city of Honjo by the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

The main entrance to the rest station in the suburban city of Honjo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

The interior of the rest station in the suburban city of Honjo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

A bowl of char siew ramen noodles in the rest station near the suburban city of Honjo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

A cup of Starbucks Coffee hot cocoa for myself outside the rest station near the suburban city of Honjo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

The car parking area located outside the rest station in the suburban city of Honjo near the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

Travelling along the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway again shortly after departing the rest station in the suburban city of Honjo

Overlooking the Joetsu Shinkansen viaduct close to the suburban city of Honjo

Bypassing a mountainous forest in the suburban city of Okegawa on the Niigata-Tokyo Expressway

Bypassing a neighbourhood in downtown Nerima-ku, Tokyo, on the way to the Tomei Expressway to Yokohama

Bypassing a small neighbourhood in downtown Suginami-ku, Tokyo, on the way to the Tomei Expressway on route to Yokohama

Bypassing some suburban housing areas in downtown Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, on the way to the Tomei Expressway to Yokohama

Travelling across the Tama River between downtown Tokyo and Kawasaki

Travelling along the Tomei Expressway close to downtown Yokohama

Bypassing Yokohama Station across the expressway flyover as we enter Yokohama

About to turn to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand past the Yokohama Landmark Tower

The InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand coming into view on a clear winter's afternoon

Finally arriving at the front main entrance to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

After a long bright early afternoon road trip of 3 hours 40 minutes from the popular winter resort town of Yuzawa, we finally arrived at the front main entrance to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand at 1.35 p.m.. The hotel butler offered to open our car doors to help us get down while two baggage porters arrived with a baggage trolley to assist us with our baggage. While my dad arranged for the hotel to park our rented car, I followed my mum and younger brother up to the check-in reception counter on the second floor.

At the main hotel reception check-in counter itself, we checked in for the remainder of our vacation in Japan. Upon completing the entire check-in process, the check-in reception lady informed us that we were to be allocated to Rooms No. 2501 and 2502 located on the 25th floor respectively, with Room No. 2501 still undergoing cleaning. With that, we took the the elevator up to Room No. 2502 on the 25th floor, eventually arriving there by 1.55 p.m.. The room had a king-sized bed with a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay.

Once the adjacent Room No. 2501 was ready for our use, we opened the connecting door, only to sense a foul smell of smoke, which my parents detested as we were vulnerable to having asthma attacks. My dad then called the hotel reception lady to complain about the problem, and she came up within just a few minutes. Noticing that Room No. 2501 was a smoking room, the hotel reception lady apologised to us and offered to re-locate us to the 26th floor, where non-smoking rooms were available.

She also informed us that the baggage porters had been notified about the issue and our baggage would be re-delivered to us once we had settled into our new rooms on the 26th floor. With that, we thanked the hotel receptionist for her services, and she escorted us to the 26th floor, where we were re-assigned to Rooms No. 2601 and 2603. As we could not smell anymore smoke, we settled comfortably into our assigned Rooms for a well-earned rest for the entire afternoon, with our baggage being brought up to us soon enough, so we could sort our attire for the coming days in Yokohama.

For my Room No. 2603, there were two twin individual beds with a bathroom, while for my parents' Room No. 2601, there was a master bedroom with two toilets, a living room and a large marble bathroom. Both our rooms also offered scenic and beautiful views of Tokyo Bay. Since we were hungry for a quality tempura dinner later that evening, I was lucky as I had arranged with the hotel to reserve a dinner table for us at 8.30 p.m. at Ten'ichi (天一) restaurant at the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store while checking in.

The grand entrance hall in the first floor at the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand during lunchtime hours

The main hotel check-in reception counter on the second floor at the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand during lunchtime hours

A view of Tokyo Bay from the hotel check-in reception counter in the second level of the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

A view of our initial room, Room No. 2502, on a bright winter's afternoon, though we changed to the 26th floor due to the smell of smoke from the adjacent Room No. 2501 next door

The view of my current room, Room No. 2603, where my younger brother and I would sleep in the afternoon

The overall beautiful view of Tokyo Bay from my Room No. 2603 on a bright winter's afternoon

A beautiful view of Tokyo Bay from my Room No. 2603 as dusk begins to fall across Yokohama

A view of the master bedroom in my parents' Room No. 2603 at dusk

Overlooking downtown Yokohama from my parents' Room No. 2603 at dusk

The marble bathroom in my parents' Room No. 2603 at dusk

The living room in my parents' Room No. 2603 at dusk

A beautiful view of Tokyo Bay from my Room No. 2603 as night begins to fall over Yokohama

After spending the rest of the entire afternoon having a well-earned rest from our long road trip from Yuzawa, the clock was finally showing 6.15 p.m.. Since we were desiring to look around downtown Yokohama, we took the elevator down to the main entrance hall, where my dad went to the concierge for the butler to retrieve our rented Europcar for us. Our first destination in Yokohama for that evening was to do some shopping around the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store first before heading to Ten'ichi for dinner.

Soon enough, one of the hotel butlers finally showed up with our rented Europcar at 6.35 p.m.. Thanking the hotel butler for taking care of our car, we promptly boarded the car for the short road trip to the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store located in downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Once we were all on board, we finally departed the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand at 6.40 p.m. for a short early evening road drive of just 20 minutes to the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store in downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama.

The large Christmas tree in the grand entrance hall at the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand at night

The grand entrance hall in the first floor at the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand at night

Our rented silver Europcar car waiting outside the front entrance to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

Finally departing the compound near the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

Travelling along the roads near the Minato Mirai 21 district in downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama, on the way to the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

Finally arriving at the car parking lot close to an alley of shops and restaurants near the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

After a short early evening road trip of 20 minutes from the InterContinental Hotel, we finally arrived at a car parking area by a shop and restaurant alley located close to the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store at seven o' clock. Parking our car, my dad went to pay the fare for parking in, while we got our belongings before alighting the car. Locking our car, we walked across the alleys past some restaurants and shops before eventually reaching the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store at 7.05 p.m..

Entering the main department store itself, we spent the first hour shopping on the various levels, where my mum looked through some fragrant perfumes, whereas I followed my dad and younger brother up the escalators to the sixth floor, where the baggage and backpack section was located. There, my dad bought himself a new backpack since he gave me his older red one for my own use. Meeting with my mum on the first floor at eight o' clock, we took the elevator all the way up to the eighth floor, where the restaurants were located, and walked across to find Ten'ichi (天一).

Walking across the alley by some restaurants and gaming arcades on route to the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

About to cross a narrow road to the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

A lineup of restaurants and cafeterias in the eighth floor at the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

Walking across the eighth floor of the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store on the way to Ten'ichi (天一) tempura restaurant

After walking across the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store to the eighth level for approximately 10 minutes, we finally arrived at the entrance to Ten'ichi tempura restaurant at 8.10 p.m.. A waitress then came to check our reservation for 8.10 p.m., and upon being positively identified, we were directed to our reserved table near the cooker counter. With our belongings safely stowed, we were left with the menus to make our reviews before we placed our main meal orders for the upcoming deep-fried tempura dinner later on.

Soon enough, one of the waitresses came by to take down our main meal orders for dinner. We ordered an assorted tempura set fresh from the counter, together with some glasses of drinks, such as white wine and red wine. That evening, we had a wonderful and sumptuous family dinner of high-end deep-fried tempura, and we were unable to resist ordering more seconds fresh from the counter, with my most favourite part of the meal being the Japanese whiting fish (kisu; キス). This would be one of the best Japanese tempura dinners I would never forget.

The interior view of Ten'ichi (天一) tempura restaurant in the eighth floor of the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

A piece of deep-fried prawn (ebi; 海老) tempura on my tempura plate

A glass of white wine to accompany my tempura dinner

A piece of Japanese whiting fish (kisu; キス) tempura on my tempura plate

A piece of deep-fried asparagus tempura on my tempura plate

A piece of deep-fried mushroom tempura on my tempura plate

Another piece of deep-fried Japanese whiting fish (kisu; キス) tempura on my tempura plate

The open counter deep fryer galley in Ten'ichi (天一) tempura restaurant on the eighth floor at the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

A piece of deep-fried scallop tempura on my tempura plate

A piece of deep-fried shishamo tempura on my tempura plate

My third piece of deep-fried Japanese whiting fish (kisu; キス) tempura on my tempura plate

Another piece of deep-fried scallop tempura on my tempura plate

A piece of deep-fried conger eel (anago; 穴子) tempura on my tempura plate

The open counter deep fryer galley in Ten'ichi (天一) tempura restaurant on the eighth floor at the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store shortly after we had finished our dinner

After having a sumptuous high-end deep-fried tempura family dinner at the Ten'ichi tempura restaurant at the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store, the clock was finally showing 9.15 p.m.. Since we were feeling stuffed to the brim, we paid our dinner bill and proceeded to the elevator lobby near the eighth floor restaurant level. Taking the nearest elevator back down to the first floor, we went outdoors near Yokohama Station to access the car parking area located behind the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store as the store's business hours were already finished for the night.

Upon reaching the car parking area behind the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store by 9.35 p.m., my dad paid the parking fare, while we boarded our rented silver Europcar for the late evening road trip back to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand just near the Minato Mirai 21 district of downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Once we were on board the car, we departed the car parking area behind the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store at 9.40 p.m. for a short late night road drive of 15 minutes back to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand near the Minato Mirai 21 district of downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama.

The view of downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama, near the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store and Yokohama Station at night

The exterior view of the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers in downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama, at night

Walking across the narrow alley to the car parking area located behind the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

The car parking area located behind the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store at night

Finally departing the car parking area located behind the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store

Travelling along the roads of downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama, at night on the way back to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

Travelling along the roads near the Minato Mirai 21 district in downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama, on the way back to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

Finally arriving back at the front main entrance to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand

The grand entrance hall in the first floor at the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand late at night

After a late night road trip of 15 minutes from the Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store in downtown Nishi-ku, Yokohama, we finally arrived back at the front main entrance to the InterContinental Hotel Yokohama Grand at 9.55 p.m.. Taking all our belongings from the car, my dad went to arrange for the butler to park our car at the hotel's car parking basement while we headed to the grand entrance hall before heading to the elevator lobby. Taking the elevator back up to the 26th floor, we were finally back in our Rooms No. 2601 and 2603 at 10.05 p.m..

Since I was to be undertaking a luxurious northbound Shinkansen trip to Aomori the next morning, I went to have a bath, and changed into my pyjamas before preparing whatever necessary belongings required and setting up all my electronics to be charged overnight. I then arranged with the hotel reception to give me a wake-up call at 5.30 a.m., and arrange for a cab to take me to Yokohama Station at 6.30 a.m. the next morning, also setting up my mobile phone alarm to 5.30 a.m. Once everything was done, I finally turned in at 11.15 p.m. for a well-earneg good night's sleep.

This officially brings the third segment of my 2015 Christmas special vacation report about my end-of-year winter vacation to Japan in December 2015 to a formal conclusion. All the remaining two sections of the trip report will be posted up once I have selected the highest quality photographs and videos for them. Please do be patient as these require some time and effort in gradual stages on my part to ensure that these remaining two sections sound interesting to the entire Blogger community.

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