The Northland Train (北陸)
After work ended on my last day of my Turtle Talk project, I begged a ride to Maihama station, sprinted onto the Keiyo Line Express train to Tokyo Station, and made a mad dash for the Shinkansen tracks, where my friend was waiting for me with a ticket. The great thing about Japan is that you can show up 5 minutes before a high speed train trip and have no issues catching the train (don’t try this in Europe, elsewhere in Asia, and definitely not in America). Thus began my first and only journey on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, one of the newest Shinkansen lines.
Before this trip, I had only been on the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and back twice. The train was basically the same on the inside as its Tokaido cousins, with 3-Aisle-2 seating. As we left the city through Ueno station and beyond, the sun set as we popped in and out of tunnels. Then we turned slightly Westward and towards the mountains of central Japan, the journey became primarily underground with only brief moments of seeing lights in the distance. As usual, I enjoyed a bento box on the train.
After a few hours on the train, we got off in the gleaming new station (service started 2015) at Toyama Shinkansen and transferred to a train on the Ainokaze Toyama line. Surprisingly (for Japan—although completely normal in the US) there was a Diesel-powered locomotive on the adjacent platform as we were waiting. Another 30 minutes of waiting and journeying on the train and we arrived at Takaoka Station, a short walk from the Ryokan my friend had booked for the night.
We talked for a bit and settled in for the evening, a long project finished for me, a week of work finished, and a mad dash across Japan just starting.