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Clare's adventures

Bullets and buses

JAPAN | Sunday, 10 August 2014 | Views [334]

Bullet train beauty!

Bullet train beauty!

As you would expect, the Japanese train system is excellent - extremely clean, punctual and frequent. We love the bullet trains (Shinkansen) that whisk you through the country at top speed (we estimated our one yesterday was going at least 200 mph). The announcements are in Japanese and English, which is great. They look so cool, like formula one racing cars. And I have worked out just enough Japanese to ask for two tickets! 

As much as we love the trains, I fear the buses. The round-town ones are great, but the tricky thing is trying to decipher where you are and have you reached your stop yet, as outside the main tourist areas it is all written in Japanese characters. So we are getting experts at trying to spot "that funny sign which starts with a man wearing two hats" or "the one which looks like a chest of drawers with a bird on top"! And with my eyesight...!! And sometimes the buses have curtains and people draw them if it's sunny!!! No oooooo!!!

The inter-city buses are also superb, but only if you can work out how to book one! Most have only a Japanese website. You have to register as a member, in Japanese, before you can book a ticket. We usually get stumped as soon as we open the page! Another way is to buy tickets at a machine in a convenience store. Again, in Japanese! Aaargh!!!! Of course, you can't just go to a ticket office and buy a ticket, unless you are actually in the city you want to go from (by which time the seats may all be booked) Heeeeeeeelllllpppp!!! We have been stuck in a town with no way out before now! However, at a hostel, a very kind Japanese lady helped us buy a couple of tickets on the website, explaining that it was even complicated for Japanese people! The 
loveliness of the helpful Japanese people is immeasurable!!!! Thank you!!!!
(Note to self - if we return to Japan in the future, learn how to read, write and speak Japanese first!)

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