Thursday, February 09, 2012
Thank You Shinkansen 300 Series
This is a country where people take their trains seriously. Special events are held for the many Steam Locomotive (SL) trains that still run, and when a Shinkansen model, the 300 Series, is about to be retired, fans go out of their way to celebrate.
The 300 Series was introduced in 1990 and has over 20 years of distinguished service which is worth commemorating - with a lunch box! The bento box costs 1100 Yen (10 Euro or 14 USD or whatever the lousy exchange rate is these days, as the Yen is stronger than ever, does anyone understand why?).
Tickets on the Shinkansen however are not cheap and they ought to introduce reduced fares, for example for people who book well in advance.
It also makes no sense that only foreign tourists can use the JR Rail Pass to ride these clever trains. What about all the foreigners that live here permanently?
A one-way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto is around 13,000 Yen (126 Euro or 170 USD).
My first trip to Kyoto was in the winter of 1989, when my brother came to visit. We went to Kyoto, stayed at the Hiraiwa Ryokan, and had a great time. Except, back then around the New Years holiday, banks were closed for several days. I had to pay cash for the ryokan, and had next to nothing for a few cold days in the ancient capital. I think Johan remembers this better than I do, but a couple of kind Kyoto University students introduced us to a cheap okonomiyaki place, that I still remember we joked was "economy-yaki" and by the time the banks finally opened, we enjoyed a very good meal. We tried to hitchhike back to Tokyo, but failed, and ended up taking the Shinkansen (probably the 100 Series) instead.
March 16, 2012 is the last run for the 300 Series, and as of February 1 they are gradually being replaced, according to Railfan.com. The 700 Series trains have a great track record and are more efficient. Update: According to Railfan, the 700 Series is 25% more energy efficient than the 300 Series, due to better streamlining and newer airconditioning systems.
Shinkansen rules, I'm using their services quite a lot each year on trips all over Japan, and I can vouch for their passenger friendly services and amazing punctuality. This is how a train service should be run. Accident-free, reliable and supported by the people.
Images from MSN/Sankei
Just for the mood, here is a cover of an enka ballad from 1976 by Alice, "While listening to the sound of a distant steam whistle," with a C571 Steam Locomotive that still runs in Yamaguchi prefecture:
Blogs I Like
- Ad B: Japan Navigator
- Adventures of a (Swedish) Salariman in Tokyo
- Amy: Blue Lotus
- Boing Boing: Wonderful Things
- Brendan: UNU OurWorld 2.0
- Hiroko & Rick: Itadakimasu
- Jared B: Tokyo Green Space
- Joan: Popcorn Homestead
- Jon: Toshogu or As I See Japan... From L.A.
- Justin B: The Rational Pessimist (Climate & Risk)
- Kat: Food Adventures in Japan
- Ken: KenElwood in semi-rural Japan
- Mari: Watashi to Tokyo
- MTC: Shisaku
- Otakimura: In The Pines
- P: Pacific Islander
- Peko Peko: Kyoto Foodie
- Richard H: Spike Japan
- Risa & Kirk: Savory Japan
- Robert: Pure Land Mountain
- Shizuoka Gourmet
- Ten Thousand Things
- Tom: Kitchen Garden in Japan
Links I Like
- News: About Sweden in English
- News: BBC
- News: Der Spiegel (Germany) in English
- News: Deutche Welle
- News: FT Asia (UK, EU)
- News: Kyoto Journal (Japan)
- News: NHK World Society & Others (Japan)
- News: People's Daily (China)
- News: Telegraph (UK)
- News: The Local (Sweden)
- News: Yomiuri Online (Japan)
- News: Yonhap (Korea)
- NGOs/News: Organic Consumers Association (US)
- NGOs: Amnesty
- NGOs: Consumers Union (US) Food
- NGOs: Consumers Union of Japan
- NGOs: Greenpeace
- NGOs: Greenz.jp
- NGOs: Japan for Sustainability
- NGOs: Japan Organic Agriculture Association
- NGOs: Japan Vegetarian Society
- Shops: Alishan Organic Center
- Shops: Eco to Waza (GreenJapan)
- Shops: Warabe Mura
- Stuff: Japan Probe