Add a little boogie!
Our first train ride this morning was in the unreserved section – so lots of people and I was lucky enough to sit next to the biggest guttural sniffer I’ve ever come across. The sniffing in Japan is out of control! I’ve done a bit of research into our cultural differences and it appears that to some Japanese people, blowing your nose in public is deemed as impolite, so sniffing is a quick fix until you are able to get somewhere private for the nose blowing. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case for all people as there are toilets on the train and my seat buddy made a conscience choice to sniff as if he were grinding coffee in this nostrils.
Anyway….. the conductor came to look at our tickets and we realised that instead of getting off at the next stop and waiting an hour for our next train, that we could actually stay on this train and go all the way through…… we decided to get off the train.
So with our hour wait at Kiso-Fukushima we crossed the road from the station to the row of little shops and had a gohei-mochi and a coffee – Now this was a new way of ordering that we hadn’t come across before. Thank goodness there were instructions in English!
You use the ticket ordering machine, put your money in and press the buttons for what you want, then hand the tickets to a lady at the ordering counter who then gives you a number, then you sit and wait until your number is called and she hands you a tray, then when you are finished you must clean up your table and take the tray to the ‘cleaning’ area.
Then back to the station for our next train journey – we had reserved seats for this train, so a much less crowded carriage, only 6 people and 4 of the were foreigners and no sniffers!
I watched the train drivers swap over and there is a real ceremony to it. The incoming drivers – there are two of them, stand side on to the train, one behind the other with their brief cases on the ground by their side. Then the outgoing main driver steps out and faces the incoming driver. They salut each other and bow and then both reach down into their briefcase and pull out a clipboard. They talk and tick a few boxes, then they salut and bow again then they pick up their briefcases and Mr Outgoing walks off and Mr Incoming and his offsider step onto the train. They all wear a very smart uniform, white gloves and their train driver hat – which looks like a pilot’s hat – now that’s what I call a difference in culture. It was so lovely to watch, but can you imagine this sort of shenanigans going on in Australia?
As we have travelled around, we are quite certain that their should be some sort in enquiry into the state of the architecture here. There are some old buildings, but then right next to them are newer, but still old buildings that were possibly designed by Mike Brady. They all look a bit like this…
I’m finding it difficult to decide whether I should just be appreciating a different way of life or calling the police!
We passed a fair bit of terrain that look like this – wide open spaces surrounded by snow capped mountains. There’s millions of people that live in Japan, but they obviously only live in the cities, because there is a LOT of space, but not a lot of people.
Our last train ride of the day was on the Shinkansen Bullet Train! There was a lot of excitement in the air. At a cool 320kms per hour, we managed to traverse half the country in about an hour and a half.
It would have been shorter, but we had to make a left hand turn once we reached the west coast and that took some slowing down.