Trip in Japan Day 4 - Shinkansens and Green Seat Carriages
Today we were going to move base to Nagoya because it was in between the other places we wanted to visit next. It was also going to be our first time on the Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) which was exciting because they looked awesome to travel on.
They also made the JR Pass worthwhile since you could go on them as much as you wanted and, a single economy trip such as this one from Tokyo, Shinagawa to Nagoya can cost as much as 11,000 JPY (74GBP) which was already a quarter of the 14 day pass we went for.
The JR Pass is valid for Shinkansen rides too and you have the choice of reserving seats or not. For unreserved seats, you just have to queue and hope you get a seat. Since we had a green pass, we thought we'd make good use of it and that meant booking a seat every time.
Shinkansen - Bullet Trains
Shinagawa Station was a busy place. The Shinkansen platforms were on the same side as the JR train platforms. After passing through the local train gates, we had to pass through another set of gates to get to the Shinkansens but instead of using our tickets at the gates like natives do, we go through the manned gates and flash our pass to go through.
Not only that, if the staff aren't pre-occupied with someone else they always bow to you and say, "arigatou gozaimasu (thank you)." Kind of makes you feel special, eh? =P
The pass doesn't let you on the fastest Nozomi [Hope] trains though - unless you paid an extra fee. We could only go on the second fastest, Hikari [Light] and Kodama [Little Ball] trains. Kodama was the slowest you could get on.
All 3 trains are actually the same N700 model train except the Nozomi stops at the least number of stations so it can run slightly faster than the Hikari. We arrived at Nagoya around 15 minutes later than the Nozomi so not that big a difference.
We actually missed the train we had reserved seats on... Fortunately green seat carriages aren't that busy so we could just go and get new tickets. A waste of the reserved seats but... Little could be done.
Platforms clearly marked as usual so you can head to the spot where your carriage will stop at.
It was going to be a 2 hour Shinkansen ride from Shinagawa to Nagoya.
As I mentioned before, there is quite a lot of debate about whether green seats was really worth the extra money - most arguing you're just getting a bit of extra leg room.
For us, it was about getting the extra peace. Obviously most people such as students who are most likely to mess around a lot will be sticking to economy due to the extra cost. It also meant fewer people and easier to travel around with luggage.
The cost difference wasn't that big anyway compared to say paying for a business class flight instead of economy. How often were you going to be taking a holiday in Japan?
There's actually another class that's higher than "Green Seats" and that was "Gran Class" where it's even more spacious - like being in a bar and having your own sofa.
But this was great as it was. Nice and peaceful, clean and spacious. Lots of leg room - enough to put your luggage there if you wanted to. Some people with smaller luggage cases did just that.
You also had your own charging port and a reading light on the head rest itself. The light was positioned so that even if you rest your head back you don't actually hit it.
Train staff handed out towel refreshments in all Green Seat carriages.
Then there was a smokers room which was more like a gas chamber since people were breathing each other's smoke ^^;
Was still a while before we reached Nagoya and despite reserving seats on the side where you can see Mount Fuji, it was a cloudy day so we couldn't see it =/
All Shinkansens apart from the slowest Kodama have some catering on the carriages but, I had a buttered honey roll from the conbini. There was a sticker that you could collect to exchange for a limited edition Rirakku Kuma bowl...
Well, the Shinkansen was definitely comfortable since there is no room for people to stand in the reserved carriages. No being packed like sardines during rush hour...
Soon, we were at Nagoya and it was raining again like the day we arrived in Japan...
Not sure what the sculpture was outside.
As we made our way down to the subway, we saw these Chikan [Pervert] posters. Apparently it's a big problem for women being sexually harassed on the overcrowded trains. Haven't seen any women only carriages yet.
Clash on Titans seemed big in Japan... Or they're spending a tonne of money marketing it like this. Never actually played the game but friend said it took the devs a lot of games before hitting the gold mine as usual.
UNIZO Inn Nagoya Sakae Higashi Review
The new hotel looked quite old but it had another Lawsons store literally just next to it so quite convenient.
Small cafe also next door which is where you had breakfast if you opted in for it.
The hotel only had one small elevator. Luckily it wasn't very busy.
Everything shouted old ^^;
Our new hotel rooms were smaller than back in Shibuya.
Pretty much your standard room.
The bathroom was quite odd because it was elevated...
The shower shared the water source with the sink so you had this valve you had to shift to control where the water supply went.
Furniture was old too.
I think the only thing modern was the internet which seem to be really fast in the hotels. If you had a laptop with you you could get 100Mbps through a LAN cable which is about 24MB/s.
Across from the hotel seemed to be some kind of club and the people can be very loud but fortunately you can't hear them with the window closed.
I really didn't mind the small room or old furniture. It was clean. However, there were some inconveniences...
The power was cut as soon as you took out the block that was attached to the key so if you wanted to leave gadgets charging like your camera when you go out for something to eat. Luckily we found there were spare sockets where the fridge was that stayed on.
They also requested you leave your key with reception every time you left the building...
But those weren't the biggest problems.
We found out our rooms were like saunas and there was no thermostat to control the temperature. You can see how dated the controls are next to the bed - just analogue dials and the air conditioning was either disabled or not working.
Worse still, the windows were locked and we couldn't open them. We complained to the staff and they offered to have security open the emergency exit windows for us. We weren't going to get a room change until the next day.
So, we just had persevere for the night.
Well, at least the food was good. This was what the cafe served for dinner.
The rest of the day was a rest day for us, just chilling and getting laundry done. It was quite fun using the machines since I've never used them before. They needed 100 Yen coins which I saved up because I had read somewhere they'd come in handy.
There was only one washing machine and there was a sign that said laundry only allowed between 7am - 10pm but it was covered up. Might have been because the machines were on the same floor as some rooms but now they've added a heavy, almost sound proof door.
Good thing because we were out quite late.
Interesting thing was you don't actually put in the detergent until the clothes have almost finished washing whereas in the UK, you just put it in right at the start. I guess here, you put detergent directly on your clothes whereas with home washing machines in the UK, there is a little container to put the detergent in.
Maybe that's why the procedure was different. Oh well, as long as the clothes are clean ^^
Won't be until tomorrow before we start touring again. Or should I say, "Shight seeing".