Kyoto Railway Museum

As our train approached Kyoto station this morning I spotted a steam train pulling a collection of open sided passenger carriages. Also at that moment Alex asked to return to the train museum at Nagoya to play with their ticket gate exhibit. 

I suggested that we change our plans and go to the Kyoto Railway Museum instead. 

It was a fairly long and hot walk from the main Kyoto station to the museum, though the last part was through a pleasant park. The steam train reappeared, obviously just shunting passengers up and down a straight track. The smell of burning coal and hot oil evoked memories of the many tourist steam engines in my past. 

Ultimately we didn’t catch that steam train, but we did spend hours in the huge museum. There was an excellent range of displays, different enough from the SCMaglev and Railway Park in Nagoya to make the dual visits worth it. For starters, Kyoto’s had a Series 500 Shinkansen on display, along with a huge roundhouse of steam locomotives. 

There were also excellent working displays on all sorts of operations, including signalling and points, electric and diesel engines and boom gates. And fortunately for Alex (and unfortunately for us) a working ticket dispenser and gate. He printed 27 tickets and spent over half an hour doing circuits of the gate. It drove us mad!

Zoom zoom to Osaka

As we passed Hiroshima the amusingly named Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium (for Hiroshima is their home town) was filled to capacity with fans of their beloved Carp baseball team. 

More lights at Osaka after I emerged from the subway at Namba, after transferring off the Shinkansen. Dotombori Street and Shinsaibashi Suji were filled with Asian tourists with selfy sticks and Japanese touts. Makes me long for somewhere quiet.

That’s probably the end of the giant journeys for the short remainder of this trip, at least until the flight home. Oh well, I collected my compass points and travelled as far as I could by Shinkansen. 

Goodnight! 

Shinkansen 

I didn’t realise it but last night marked the first time I have travelled the entire Shinkansen network as it currently stands, apart from the tiny spur to Gala-Yuzawa. I was only missing the bit between Kumamoto and Shin-Yatsuhiro as it was still under construction when we visited in 2009.

I’ve done the Yamagata and Niigata Shinkansen lines previously and we’ve travelled the Hokuriku and Akita Shinkansen lines as recently as the past year. 

This trip I’ve gone as far north – Shin Hakodate Hokuto – as you can to as far south – Kagoshima-Chuo – as you can go. 

It’s an amazing fast train network. If only we had anything like it in Australia. 

And right now I’m riding it back to Shin-Osaka. I managed to check into an earlier Sakura Shinkansen, though it meant buying a bento on board for some food. 

The Shinkansen may not be as fun or as interestingly scenic as a slow local train, but when you are as exhausted as I am, the cool comfort is very welcome. 

And so the circuit will be complete and I will be back to where I started this rail adventure from. Family fun time now. 

To Kagoshima 

One last train for tonight: The Sakura Shinkansen to Kagoshima-Chuo leaving from Shin-Tosu station. 

Series 500 Shinkansen 

The 500 Series Shinkansen is, in my opinion, the best looking of these super fast trains. Unfortunately they are stuck on “slow” Kodama services now, so I’m unlikely to catch one on this trip. However, I did spot the Neon Genesis Evangelion liveried train as we raced through Himeji station, then got a chance to properly admire one at Shin-Yamaguchi. 

The Chugoku region of Japan is another favourite and it’s a pity not to have the time to explore it further this time. Preference on one of the KiHa 120s that run through the rural lines. 

Today’s train plan

And it doesn’t even include the first bit from Shinjuku to Shinagawa on the Yamanote Line at 6 something and the Hikari Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka at 6.34 AM.

Catching the cherry south

It was hot at Shin-Osaka station but I had to queue early to get my spot in the unreserved first car of the Sakura Shinkansen to Hakata. 

The outside of the train is a rather boring pale blue, but I like the wooden highlights inside. 

Despite the clouds I did catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji on the Hikari in. 

Unfortunately I’ve managed to run out of space on my camera – backing up is proving to be a pain. Cleared some space, but I think a new SD card is in order next stop. 

Glad I didn’t wait to catch this train at Shin-Kobe as Hyperdia suggested. Wouldn’t have got a window seat.