Moving On To Hiroshima

Aboard the Shinkansen 'Hikari'

After eating the so-called "breakfast of champions" at Tsukiji Market, I hurriedly went back at 7:30 AM via subway to Asakusa and checked out from the hotel. This being a morning rush-hour, I faced the prospect of being squeezed with the riding masses, bags and all. I had a train to catch bound for Hiroshima but thanks to the ever-reliable Hyperdia, I was able to find out which subway line would give me less connections. Thank God, despite the crowd, I managed to get into Tokyo Station in one piece, excited at my first ever ride on the Shinkansen or "bullet train".

Tagalog ad on the subway: para sa mga Pinay na buntis
Tokyo Station
Bento boxes for sale

I've said it before and I'll say it again: using Japan Rail Pass is a cost-effective way for anyone traveling extensively around Japan. A round trip "Ordinary" ticket between Tokyo and Hiroshima alone currently cost 22,680 yen ($292), but for $340, this gets you an "Ordinary" pass for 7 days of unlimited travel on the extensive JR network of trains, buses, the Tokyo Monorail (for Haneda Airport) and the Miyajima ferry. 

The rail pass is valid on all Shinkansen trains except Nozomi and Mizuho, considered the fastest among "bullet trains" (since they only have a few stops between destinations). It doesn't matter really to me - the Hikari train taking me to Hiroshima is still assuredly fast with a maximum speed of 270 kms/hour.

My seat with plenty of leg space

With my rail pass (which is bought before arriving into the country), all I had to do was either 1) show up at the station and get a seat in the non-reserved section of the train or like what I did,  2) made reservations the day before at the station for a window seat at the train's reserved section (which is normally an extra charge if you buy single tickets). Doing the latter is way better of course and a real no-brainer for those already with the rail pass. 

Train crew always make a bow before and after entering each car!
My lunch: Tonkatsu & Unagi with rice

Before walking into the train platform, I bought a bento box for lunch just as everyone else seems to be doing from one of the many shops inside the station. Price varies from 800-3,000 yen depending on what's included but just looking at the samples on display already made me hungry. They all look so good it was difficult choosing but I eventually got one with Tonkatsu and Unagi  which cost about 1,200 yen. I've got about 4 hours of travel time on the train, which is plenty of time for a leisurely meal.

My connecting Hikari 'Rail Star' train in Kobe
At Kobe Station

The Shinkansen have two seat types - the Ordinary and the more expensive Green Car - but even the Ordinary is already quite comfortable with plenty of leg space that makes economy class on airplanes look cramped. Seating arrangement is 2x3 with all-forward facing seats. Everything is immaculately clean, including wash rooms and lavatories. Overhead bin space is generous. With polite Japanese as fellow passengers, there's really nothing to complain about. In fact, save for onboard announcements, the train is eerily quiet as most passengers kept to themselves without ever using mobile phones or hardly even talking to their seatmates. 

Cloud-covered Mt. Fuji
Rice paddies
Baseball match

From Tokyo, the Hikari train left at exactly 9:03 AM and zoomed all the way to Kobe, a distance of almost 590 kilometers, in just 3 hours and 15 minutes (with stops in Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto & Osaka). At the station in Kobe, I waited for my next train, another Hikari, which promptly arrived 17 minutes later. I got onboard and was once again whisked in speedy fashion to my final destination, leaving Kobe at 12:35 PM and arriving in Hiroshima at 1:54 PM. I'm really floored by the promptness of Japanese trains - you can even set your time with them!

Queuing for the ride
Paying on the tram: by tapping a prepaid card or in cash
The Peace Memorial Park and A-Bomb Dome as seen from my hotel room
Closer view of the A-Bomb Dome from Sunroute hotel's restaurant

To get to Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima where I was booked, I needed to ride on Tram No. 1. I asked around at the station in really s-l-o-w English. A very kind janitor stopped what he was doing, escorted me and didn't stop walking with me until he was practically pointing at the nose of the tram. This ebullient display of kindness is one of the most endearing traits of the Japanese. All I could do was simply say "arigato" and give him a big bow.

Once on the tram, my thoughts were now finally on Hiroshima the City - a city that I came to know back in high school as one that was devastated by the Atomic bomb during World War II. While Japan's northeast had to endure a nuclear meltdown resulting from the recent earthquake, here I was in this city that has risen literally from the ashes of war.


  1. Wow, you take such stunning photos. Japan looks awesome, soo clean! And lunch looks delicious! Thanks for sharing! - Mar

  2. Another good one with a great choice of photos. Glad I found your blog when looking for Madventures

  3. very cheap compared to 1-way passes, but still, mahal talaga. P14,000++ for train pass palang. matinding ipunan ang Japan trip! =)

    btw, i smiled on the 1st photo. galing ng timing!

  4. Ah, you got a glimpse of Kobe, where I spent almost five years when I was a teenager! One thing I regret now is the fact that I haven't had a chance to travel within Japan: vacation time from school was usually spent just chilling at home, and I was younger back then, and still had no appreciation for travel.

  5. now im in full envy. this part i missed. so nice that buildings has already filled the area including the site near the a-bomb dome.

    i miss that coke can. i forgot to brought home one. i only brought with me those small coke can.

  6. wow, the train ride alone is an adventure in luxury :)

    i like that coke bottle. i hope you saved it for souvenir :)

  7. Mar,
    thanks too for visiting. That Bento box lunch was very good, puts to shame my packed lunch to work.

    serendipity, I guess, hehehe! glad you like the photos here!

    napamura lang talaga ang budget ko Chyng dahil sa free ticket ko to Japan (ok... with $46 tax!) but I admit it can cost more, really more. Buti na lang, the hotels have cut down on prices dahil di pa masyadong bumabalik ang mga turista.

    I meant to ask you that so now I know where you've spent a part of your teenage life. Was really hoping to see Kobe but my time was limited. Ikaw rin, who knows, babalik ka doon?

    dong ho,
    It's really amazing to see a modern Hiroshima when one thinks about the utter destruction it suffered 66 years ago.

    Photo Cache,
    Train rides excite me and this one is already up there among the most unforgettable. No, I never thought of bringing that coke bottle for a souvenir *sigh*

  8. Riding one of Japan's bullet trains is already an adventure for me, I wonder if their bullet trains had those high tech fancy toilet seats as well :)

  9. Nainggit na naman ako sayo hehehe, I miss Japan talaga. I've never been to Hiroshima, we used to live in Aomori (northern part) so it would be too expensive for us to travel there hehehe....but I love their shinkansen ang bilis talaga lol....hey are you still in Japan? Did you buy the banana cake (forgot the name) in Tokyo? I love those, it's shape like banana talaga.

  10. Argh, I wonder what happened to my comment. Hihi, anyways... nakakalula mga prices. Chyng's right, matinding ipunan ito. Awesome views from the train ride.

  11. Hi Nomadic! It seems that everybody is on holidays... Here it’s true, but someone has to stay... ;)

    I remember how excited I was when in 1983 I first travelled the Shinkansen...

    Blogtrotter Two is preparing to leave St. Florent. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!!

  12. dennis, i am always lost of superlatives with your posts, haha! you know that i like tokyo and this post is just beyond amazing. nakasakay lang ako ng mala-bullet train from shinagawa to narita airport pauwi sa pinas and yes, the experience of riding their trains is really something.

    i fell in love with tokyo and would like to go there again with my family but i cannot see myself living there with all their earthquakes and tsunamis, can you?

  13. lakwatsera de primera,
    not really the ones with bidet but they have very clean and well-functioning Japanese-style toilets (squat type) with rolls of paper and liquid soap!

    Ang mahal nga kaya I took advantage of the rail pass. I'm back from the trip already - this was last month. Never had the banana cake but I ate Kasutera cake and it's so yummy!

    Pinay Travel Junkie,
    Japan really poses a challenge for those with a shoestring budget but as it is, the rail pass is the only 'cheap' option for extensive rail journeys.

    The first time is always the most memorable haha! Like everything in life :) Enjoy your 'staycation' before your next trip!

    I admit to loving Japan just like you do but certainly not earthquakes and tsunamis. There was actually an earthquake on my 2nd day but never felt it because I was on the train - buti na lang or else di na ako makatulog haha!

  14. Dennis, I do want to go back to Japan. Pero may kakompetensya, you know, the desire to visit 100 countries before I die (it's 19 right now, turning 20 this Monday). Given that goal, I probably would want to visit countries where I haven't been to yet, over Japan. But then I want to go back too. I dunno, I guess the best solution is to submit an abstract to a conference held in Japan and get accepted so I have another reason to go back than simply to visit again, and then extend the trip by a few days. We'll see, the annual meeting for the Cognitive Science Society will be in Sapporo in 2012! :)

  15. Jeruen,
    Buti ka pa, you have that option in order to revisit Japan - perhaps this means your trip or part of it will be subsidized? Like you, I do wish to visit and experience as many countries as I can afford but at the same time, there are also those that's calling my name again (i.e. Peru, Chile, Morocco)


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