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  • Day662

    Sleepy Kanazawa

    July 4, 2019 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    We left Tokyo on a bullet train headed for Kanazawa, a "sleepy" town on the west coast of Japan. Tokyo is on one side of the big Japanese island, Honshu, and Kanazawa is on the other side. The trains travel around 270-300 km/h or 168-186 mph. The tracks have to be exceptionally level and straight for those sorts of speeds, hence why regular train tracks wouldn't do. They had to engineer new ones for the bullet, or shinkansen, trains. (try saying 'shinkansen' out loud--it's fun!). They rock less and are much smoother than regular trains--i.e. I didn't get motion sick at all despite the fact that Japan apparently insists on using the wimpiest, bare minimum air conditioning.
    In Japan, the first bullet trains began in 1964. Regular trains can use the tracks, but the shinkansens can't get up to their high-speeds on the regular train tracks. So, most stations in cities with the shinkansen stop will have an area and platforms for the bullet trains and a separate area and platforms for the regular trains. If the city has a subway, those trains are in yet another area, down some levels.

    I splurged on the "first class" train tickets because i knew we'd be doing a lot of train travel to explore the country and after all, it is our anniversary/honeymoon/birthday bash so why not let poor Jonathan's kneecaps remain intact for at least one trip? lolol.

    The trains were immaculate. I cannot tell you how old they are because, apparently, Japanese bodies do not actually wear and tear the finishings such as carpet or paint. Yes, the cabins are carpeted. 0_o Unlike Tokyo streets and subways, it is not a cultural no-no to eat and drink on these trains and still--they are so clean. What gives? (Side note--also there are cleaning crews that clean after the train reaches its terminal destination before it heads back out again. When they are finished, the exit the train together, line up, and bow in front of all the waiting passengers).

    We arrived in "sleepy" Kanazawa that afternoon and that's when I discovered this so-called "sleepy" town actually had a population of about 370,000 people. Oh, right. Sleepy. That's what I'd call it. We chose it because we were trying to avoid the tourist cultural mecca of Kyoto that I'd read could be very busy. Kanazawa was supposed to be just as culturally rich with historical and traditional Japanese shrines, temples, and designs---but, you know, "sleepy". lol.

    This is why facts are so great sometimes. Sleepy to a Japanese citizen would be 370k people, but sleepy to me is more like....20k. If I'd known the numbers, I could have applied my adjective appropriate for me. Or the word "clean". I say the trains are clean, but what does that mean? It means that the carpet has no stains or worn spots. There are no dings on the wooden accented armrests and seatbacks. And, of course, not one piece of missed trash.

    Next day is exploring Kanazawa and then on to my faves----UNESCO World Heritage Sites (They're the nerdy best and fun!!).
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