Thursday, January 22, 2009

First day of the trip.

I heard about 18 きっぷ (or 18 ticket), which gives unlimited usage of local JR trains for 5 days for a low fee of 11,500 (about $125 at today's rate).  I can use a ticket any day and ride as many trains as I wanted for essentially $25 a day.  I could have used this to see the sights around Tokyo and it would have saved me money if I traveled a lot and exited the stations often, but I wanted to do something else.  I wanted to go to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, and then back home.
Osaka was the first stop, as I thought it would be nice to go there and then leisurely head back and do the heavy traveling on the first day.  By airplane, a trip to Osaka is a little more than an hour.  By shinkansen (bullet train) it's about 2 and a half hours.  By local trains, it's 8 and a half hours.
Here is the route I took on the first day of my trip.  I think I'm missing some stops, because it was a  LONG day of traveling  Starting in Mitaka, I met my traveling companion around 8 AM and left.
It of course was a regular Tuesday morning rush hour for most people.
From there, we went to the always overcrowded Shinjuku station.  It doesn't look like it, but it was pretty crowded.  This platform was just after a train left.
We boarded ye olde Yamanote line...
Then we stopped for a fast breakfast in Shinagawa.
We boarded our first train that took us outside of the Tokyo area.
 And rode it until the end of the line which was Atami.

After a short stop, we went to Numanzu.
There was a stopover here, and not a whole lot to talk about, but a cute town.  I seemed to have missed taking a picture of the train.  Oh well.
Then came Shimizu.
Shimizu was not a required stop, but was the hometown of the popular comic book and TV Charcter Chibi Maruko-Chan.  It was also known for great tea, and we were getting a bit sick of riding trains, so a well timed break was in order.  Look forward to seeing pictures from that town later.
I was kind of disappointed at the trains I was riding.  Not that they were bad, but they were bland.  I was expecting some crazy trains.  They were all pretty normal.  When I went to the hippie festival I rode some crazy trains, and this was WAY further out than that.
Anyway, feeling refreshed, we got back onto yet another boring train.
We had to change yet again in Toyohashi.
And we boarded yet another boring train.  Although I'm complaining now they were boring, I should be grateful that they were all comfortable.
Here's a map. 
Then it was off to Ogaki.
And finally, an interesting train!  It was pretty comfortable too.

 After Ogaki, we had to change trains at Maibara.
 While waiting at Maibara, there was a guy on the pay phone shouting very loudly and angrily.  First off, I hardly ever see anyone using the pay phone, and when I do, it's only for a little while, rarely a conversation.  Also, this guy was MAD!  I'm not sure what, but it was starting to creep me and my travel companion out.  Apparently he shouted "So, I'm a homosexual pervert, SO WHAT?!?"  In Tokyo, I would have been a little worried, but out here, a family, including a kid that was about 12 were laughing at him and saying "He's drunk.  Hahaha."  It was then I really felt the cultural difference between Kansai and Kanto (Tokyo) people.
The train that finally came was a bit interesting too. 
 Thankfully, the loud drunk didn't get on our train, or was quiet when he did.  either way, it was the last train before...

OSAKA!!!!  After a LONG day of traveling, I was FINALLY THERE!
Okay, we had to get on another train to get to our hotel, but this was close enough.  I didn't take pictures of the last train and stop because I was tired and I kind of felt like the last stop didn't matter as much, because I was IN Osaka.  It was close to 10:30 at this point.  An 8 and a half hour trip became 14 and a half hours.  That's what happens when you take your time.  It was great, though.
So, that was the trip.  I'm pretty sure I left at least one stop off and I'm sure there are some factual errors, but whatever.  Later on, I'm going to post pictures from this day, but that's the route for day one.
In total, this trip would have cost almost 9,000 yen, but thanks to my ticket, it only cost me 11,500 for the whole 5 day pass.
Stay tuned for more pictures and stories. 

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