We met many friendly Japanese who came up to us and gave us sightseeing tips: in Nagoya, in Nara, in Tokyo. We met volunteer guides in Ueno Park and in Tokyo Edo Museum. Thank you!
We flew with a budget airline for the first time - JetStar - and it was quite a pleasant experience compared to a full-service airline. People who wanted airline food, bought airline food, people who needed to check-in many bags paid per bag and per weight, people who wanted extra in-flight entertainment leased iPads loaded with movies and games. People who wanted a window seat - like me, paid for the privilege. I especially liked the food part - in full service airlines the serving of the food is a logistical nightmare for the crew and passengers - it takes long, corridors are blocked, you are woken up just when you have managed to fall asleep, it is very uncomfortable to eat with your elbows in your belly, the trays with rubbish block your exit for a long time after the meal. In a budget airline the whole thing is a breeze. The few passengers who ordered meals get served, and we are done.
The only unpleasant surprise was that the window seat that I picked online didn't have a good view - the wings of the plane were in the way - I thought the wings were in a different place when I was booking the seats on the website. Next time, I will look more carefully and maybe check seatguru.com to confirm the layout of the plane.
|Nara - old ladies and little girls, beware of the deer!|
|Kyoto - looking pretty in kimonos.|
|Kyoto - the temple behind the big gate.|
|Buy and pray. The proceeds go to the temple.|
|"Trees" of unwanted horoscopes.|
|Between Nagoya and Osaka - a grim block of flats. Brrr.|
|What I did on the train.|
|A big rubbish bin.|
|Legoland Discovery Center|
|A piece of art - a manhole in Tokyo with a fire-turtle.|
|Tokyo Ueno Zoo - otter exhibit.|
|A view towards Mt Fuji from the Tokyo Government Building.|
|The document of surrender of Japan in WW II.|
|Modern and green Tokyo city scape near Shinagawa station.|
|Gundam robot statue (I hope) in Tokyo.|
|There are many types of high speed trains in Japan - the Shinkansen.|
|Shinkansen Series 0|
|Tokyo Osaka route|
A few thoughts about JR passes: they are very good value: a return trip between Tokyo and Osaka costs as much as a 7 day pass, but they are quite inconvenient to obtain and use: usually you fill a form and order them online, then vouchers are mailed to you (you can buy vouchers at some airports - Cairns for example), then you need to go to a JR office when you arrive in Japan, where you need to fill another form, wait in line - up to an hour when there are 4 people in front of you, present the voucher, and your passport, and get the pass. The pass does not fit in a wallet - it is a size of a booklet. You need to present it to a railway official every time you enter and leave a station - you cannot use automatic gates. The pass is not valid for Nozomi and Mizuho trains, which are the most common at peak times. You may need to wait for a Hikari train up to 1 hour. Still, JR pass is a bargain. Use hyperdia.com or maps.google.com to check train times and prices.
JR recommends getting seat reservations for Shinkansen trips: the problem is that when you arrive at a station 15 minutes before departure there may not be enough time to get it, or you may be told that there are no more seats available. Don't despair, go to the platform, find the section where cars with unreserved seats stop and get in line. There is a very good chance that you will have a seat.
|Current frequency in Japan|
|Line up of JR Central Shinkansen - Railway Museum in Nagoya.|
|Evolution of EMUs.|
Shinkansen, like many other Japanese products, was an evolution of earlier designs, which can be seen in this picture.
|Funny thing - locks for umbrellas.|
|Nagoya - a newly re-created part of the castle. Beautiful.|
|Mt Fuji captured from Shinkansen|
|In Gold Coast we have quiet cars, in Osaka they have Women Only cars.|
|Different kinds of paint, same body part.|
|Re-built Hiroshima Castle.|
|Did you know about dummy A-bombs? I did not.|
|Before the A-bomb.|
|After the A-bomb.|
|An old tram in Hiroshima.|
|Beware of people with bicycles in Hiroshima! Why is this guy chasing me?|
|A block of flats with a parking lot under and around it.|
|A Korean bronze shoe from the 6th century AD - Tokyo National Museum.|
|Buddha triad - 12th-13th century, Cambodia.|