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Category: Japan 2018

  • Fireballs and a laser: QF34 home

    Stepping aboard the Haruka Express, it is time to begin our journey home. If only the train could take me all the way, but it is merely a carriage to the main event. I sit back and try to enjoy the journey. The waning day, undecided between cloud and clear skies, gives rise to a… Read more

  • It’s Nara. Oh deer!

    The final day in Japan is usually the worst. Leaving the hotel as late as possible, last minute shopping and a whole lot of anxiety about the flight ahead meaning no appetite and a desire to curl up and sleep. I don’t want that day, so I suggest we go to Nara, a single half-hour… Read more

  • From Tokyo to Tennoji

    It is now time to return to Osaka. We farewell our beloved Shinjuku Prince hotel and join the morning crush of crowds at the station. Squeezing into the Yamanote Line at the very rear carriage, I watch the tracks flowing behind us as we head to the Shinagawa interchange. The concourse at Shinagawa is impressive,… Read more

  • Fire, earthquakes, robots and arcades

    “Kasai! Pin! Hose! Lever!” We shout “Fire!” to the other occupants, then pull the pin on the fire extinguisher, lift the hose out of the hold, pointing it to the fire on the screen, then squeeze the lever until the fire disappears. This is the Life Safety Learning Centre in Ikebukuro. We’d just made it,… Read more

  • The quest for the ticket gate: Hakodate to Tokyo

    It is time to leave Hokkaido. With a big city awaiting we motivate ourselves to wake early and head down to Hakodate’s train station. Nothing much is open, so breakfast, such that it is, is purchased from the kiosk and we board the connecting train to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, the gateway to the Shinkansen. The cloud has… Read more

  • Kushiro to Hakodate

    In the month leading up to this trip Japan suffered a series of natural disasters. The powerful winds and rain of Typhoon Jebi flooded Kansai International Airport, shutting down all flights and isolating the artificial island from the mainland. Then, on September 7 a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck southern Hokkaido, causing landslides and damaging electrical… Read more

  • Kawayu Onsen to Kushiro

    Somewhere along the way on this trip we lost the inclination to wake early. We were planning to catch the early train to Kushiro, then change for Nemuro, where we would eat crab and sushi from the original Hanamaru. I’d been to Nemuro last year, but I promised B fresh seafood… Alex keeps asking when… Read more

  • Abashiri to Kawayu Onsen: Cliones and sulphur volcanoes

    Go to jail, go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 Yen. This is a first for me, driving a car overseas! Before we left I picked up an international driving permit. We were planning to visit the Shiretoko Peninsula and had tried to organise buses, but our emails probably got… Read more

  • Furano to Abashiri: Flowers and fish

    After too little sleep Alex calls me up to admire the sunrise. I can’t actually see the sunrise, but the morning mists over the mountains are pretty. B wants to see some of the regional attractions, but also doesn’t want to get to the final destination, Abashiri, too late. Not like my visit to Abashiri… Read more

  • Detouring from Sapporo to Furano

    There is something ineffably magic and romantic about catching a train that other forms of transport cannot hope to replicate. So it is of great sadness to me when a railway line closes. I know I’m not alone with this sentiment and it is in evidence during my adventures today. It is not just the… Read more