Intermezzo to Tokyo

First I would like to apologise for being silent for more than a month. It has been busy at work and honestly I was a bit lazy posting updates. The reason for this is my upcoming trip to Kyoto, where I will be attending a conference. I will hopefully find a few minutes each day to post some updates during that time. For now there is another occasion I would like to report on.

Today a professor from India is arriving at Ueno station and I will help him to change trains to go to Mito. Sure, I might not be the most qualified person to do that as I am seriously lacking language skills, but I was available and Japan’s train system is simple enough for me to navigate. Here I am on my way to Ueno now, I had to get up quite early to make everything work. The lady at the counter in Mito station was incredibly helpful. Indeed I was able to purchase the ticket for both ways in one go. Since I am taking the express train, I have to reserve seats. There is no such thing overbooking in Japan. She seemed seriously surprised that I wanted to return just about an hour later than I arrived. I do understand that, because the tickets total to about eight thousand yen, which is a lot for just a short round trip. But that is actually not what I wanted to talk about.

At Ueno I will welcome our guest at the Shinkansen platform. In Japan you need a ticket to enter the platform’s and surrounding areas. For this occasion you can buy the so called nyūjōken (入場券, にゅうじょうけん), a platform ticket. It lets you enter the restricted area and costs between one and two hundred yen. And here is what it looks like for Ueno.

This makes it easy to witness the Shinkansen without actually riding it; and these trains are pretty darn awesome. Since I was a bit in a hurry, I was only able to snap a quick picture.

It’s like two trains kissing.

The nyūjōken also makes it very convenient to meet someone directly at the platform. If you know the seat reservation in advance, you also know exactly where you have to stand in order to not miss anyone. Ueno can be quite confusing. Not as confusing as Shinjuku, which is more like a town then a station, but still you can get lost easily.

The time I spent in Tokyo today was so short, I only took some time to grab a very small lunch. It’s always a bit surprising that it’s hotter in Tokyo. Today almost thirty degrees, which is a bit too much for me to be honest. Thank god it will get worse in Kyoto. Any way, it’s always a pleasure riding the express train. It’s not as fast as the Shinkansen, but equally as comfortable. I was a bit surprised, that at eight o’clock the train was almost completely booked. I really expected rush hour to be over. Suffice to say that Japanese trains are well coordinated and almost never late, the transfer went without delay. It was a bonus that the professor was traveling light. Before I go, here is the Tokiwa express entering the station.

(I guess I just wanted to test the video feature at this point.)

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