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Train to Kagoshima

As I had a 7 day Japan rail pass, I decided to get some value out of it and head down to the city of Kagoshima in the far south of the country.

After changing trains a couple of times I was on an express, going past old people working the fields by hand, as we approached the town of Shin-Yatsushiro. There, on the edge of town, suspended above the plain of green rice fields, was a futuristic, shining chrome and glass station. Our train terminated there and we all transferred onto a beautiful, brand new, white shinkansen that was sitting alongside. It was like we were going into space. It was the nicest train I'd ever been on - and I obviously wasn't the only one who thought that. The other passengers were all standing around with their mouths open & taking photographs. The interior was fantastic, with expensively upholstered, shaped wooden seats, and bamboo blinds. The railway staff on the platform remained bowed while the train pulled out of the station - if I'd had a corgi with me I would have felt like the queen.

Japan is busily extending it's bullet train lines all the way from Tokyo to the very south, and this line had just opened some months ago. One of the main differences between travelling on trains in other parts of the world and Japan is that here they don't bother laying railway tracks around hills and mountains - they just put a tunnel straight through. So, on the trip down to Kagoshima we were underground about a third of the time, but it was a really fast trip. At Expo, Japan Railways had been displaying their new maglev shinkansen which had just done 500km/h in trials.

I arrived and sorted out a room in a ryokan, or Japanese guesthouse, then jumped on the ferry. Kagoshima overlooks Japan's most active volcanoe, Sakurajima, and that was where I was headed. It used to be an island but during one of it's more recent eruptions the lava it threw out filled in the 70m deep channel on one of it's sides.

I was about 1000km south of Tokyo now and there were palm trees and flowers blooming everywhere. As I was walking along, I suddenly realised something. After ten days of being in Tokyo and Kyoto looking at tourist sights, I had finally come to a piece of the real Japan - and that made me happy.

Comments

I did the Maglev in SHanghai. 480km/h, pretty impressive... I was thinking, that you couldn't get from city to airport that fast in a car. Then I thought, wait a minute... Even if I had my PPL and would fly I couldn't cross that distance that fast!!!! (assuming I fly a piper or cessna or some other single combustion engine powered mono-wing) Fcuk me freddy!

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