Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Going to Mount Fuji on the Bullet Train

The next day we woke up we decided to go on the bullet train and then go to Mt. Fuji. But before that we would go to eat something and see some homes. For a fact did you know that the staple diet of the local inhabitants of Tokyo is rice, sushi, fresh fish, tofu and tempura? At the restaurant we ate some popular traditionall dishes, like Sushi, Unagi, Kenchin Vegetable Soup, and Seaweed and Potato Patties. My favourite dish was the Sushi, and Seaweed and Potato Patties. After we were both full we went to see the difference of houses from the south of Japan compared to mid-Japan. The houses that we saw were called shinden-zukuri. This type of house, stood in the midst of a large garden, and its rooms were connected with long hallways. This feature allowed people to enjoy seasonal events and the beauty of nature. Michael and I agreed that if we ever stayed in Japan we would get a home like this.

A few hours later...
We looked on the Internet and bought tickets for both of us. A ride for the two of us was 27,210 yen ($399). We both did a bit of research on the bullet train. Did you know that there are about 151,320,000 annual passengers on the bullet train? The bullet train also is known as the Shinkansen. Japan train travel offers the fastest point to point service of any rail line in the world. The history of the bullet train is cool. First in the 1930's there was a talk of building a new train line specifically for rapid transport between major cities. But, because of World War 2 the Japanese government delayed plans. It wasn't until after World War 2 that Japan began to think about restarting work on the Shinkansen. The approval was given in the late 1950's. In 2011 a new series of bullet train able to reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). Beyond new conventional trains, Japan Railways is interested in moving to Maglev trains. Maglevs are quieter than conventional track lines and can move at extremely high speeds safely. Knowing all of this amazing, and cool information I couldn't wait till we went on the bullet train.

We printed our tickets and checked out of the hotel and waited for a taxi. When the taxi came we put all of our stuff in and went to the train station. At first when Michael and I entered the train station we were surprised by the amount of people inside. There
was barely enough space to walk. Luckily the signs were translated into English and didn't lose our way through the crowd. When we got to the platform we were 5 minutes early.
But the train was a bit ahead of time (because it is the bullet train, no wonder). When we boarded the train, it looked a lot like an aircraft. But the windows were bigger and there was way more leg room. Inside the seats were a dark blue and the wall was a beige colour. About 5 minutes after we boarded the train started to move. It felt slow, but when we checked the speedometer at the front of car it said 250 km/h. If you look outside it looked so amazing because of all the building zooming past us. Then the conductor asked for our tickets. Michael took the tickets and gave it to him. He scanned the ticket and gave it back. About halfway through the ride a host came and gave us drinks. It was a long ride to Mt. Fuji.

We decided to climb Mt. Fuji, not all of it, but at least 1000 meters. Enough to tell people climbed that we climbed Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan. What we didn't know, was that there were 4 routes. So we needed to randomly choose a route. We went up the Kawaguchiko route. At the Kawaguchiko 5th station (the starting point) we bought some hiking sticks. It was tough, but there were some stops along the way where we could go to the washroom. Also there was someone outside each station with a branding iron who would burn an insignia on your hiking stick for small price as proof that you reached that station. In total, it took us a total of 2 hours to reach about 1000 meters, and 1 hour to get back down. Climbing part of Mt. Fuji was one of the best experiences of my life.
(The video is better with sound).

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