The long railroad to the north

22 sushi pink Will our grand send off

        help us through the train night 

        or exhaust us both?  

Commotion on track 13So here we are finally after faffing around at the Shinkansen gates expecting to be whooshed to Hokkaido while we slept but are redirected to Track 13 – not a bullet train line. All the paparazzi are still lurking about and a guard comes running down the platform to get us underway.

guard on track 13

He checks the signage – as do we – and the insignia on the train. LEX Sapporo sign  train badge

Both look fine but this is our train.

our skinkannot Not the post modern express we’d hoped to help us through the night – rather less elegant inside than that in Some like it Hot as it happens. The Hokutosei seems to use rolling stock from the fifties.

corridor good  berth WS

However, we installed ourselves, the train set off and after organizing our bags in this tiny space we set off for the dining car. Oh, oh, no. Reservations only and must be made three days in advance. Why did nobody tell us this when we booked our berth at considerable expense above our JR Passes? A cart came by with some provisions and we had a few bits and pieces so we were able to construct an amuse bouche and then dinner.

amuse bouche  dinner

Fish biscuit amuse bouche                                               Dinner

After this wondrous repast and a few rounds of “Take Two” there being no electricity for blogging except by standing in the washing area – and dear reader some lines have to be drawn. So anticipating an early (06:35) arrival in Hakodate we prepared for bed. As we finished our ablutions the train stopped. We looked through the window to see a solitary figure on the platform opposite photographing us. Ironically, or perhaps necessarily, we were at Fukushima and expressed our solidarity as best we could.

Mike ready for bed  Dee sleeping - not

Not a great deal of sleep was had by either of us before dawn broke and we emerged from the Seiku the world’s longest undersea tunnel (53 Km; 33 miles) into Hokkaido. We soon had our first glimpse of Mt Hakodate, arrived at the station and saw the train depart for Sapporo. Off for a day of enforced sightseeing as we can’t check in till 4 pm.

first sight of Mt Hakodate Together in Hakodate leaving for Sapporo

As the song says “Oh what a night!” But not quite inn the same way. Do the sums: Osaka – Tokyo 570 km in 3 hours; Tokyo- Hakodate 830 km in 11 and a half hours.

One thought on “The long railroad to the north

  1. We’re really enjoying your account of the trip Mike, even the bits you are less than enthusiastic about! Enjoy. love to Dee. Bill

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