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Tony - Japan 2024 Planning


Tony Galiani

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Tony Galiani

Well we are checked in for our flight and, in theory, my e-Sim is downloaded.  I have 1000 yen on my eSuica but thinking maybe I should add more before I go.  Both excited and a bit nervous - will we be doing the airport dash tomorrow to make our connection?  I will do some updates once we are over there.

 

I am also trying out a slightly different luggage plan - medium rolling backpack for most stuff and another personal bag with some items.  Looks like this should work but winter gear takes up a lot of room.  Biggest concern is that I may have limited space to bring back goodies - still trying to decide what to do about that.  We have a neat folding bag that takes up hardly any space in our luggage but can be opened up to carry a bunch of stuff.  Might bring that along though we typically don't do checked bags so there's that.  Don't have a huge shopping list but, who knows, I may succumb to Jeff's Squirrel Syndrome!

 

Last trip I did not purchase any books and regretted that so planning to pick up a few at the very least.

 

Ciao,

Tony

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Looking forward to your photos Tony.

 

For compact winter clothes, Uniqlo is unbeatable, but the ones in Japan tend not to stock anything above XL size/34 waist.

Edited by mojo
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Have a great trip Tony.

 

I always take a big suitcase half full 🙂 But we try to condense the times we change accomodation to as few as possible.

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tossedman

Have a great trip Tony! Hopefully it's just as exciting as Fredericton!

 

Cheers!

 

Todd

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Looking forward to your diary and photos about your trip.  We're all living vicariously through you!  😄

 

Safe travels!

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Tony Galiani

Long travel day but we are now ensconced in our hotel in Tokyo.  It has been an interesting travel day!

 

Our connection in DC went well but then we only got as far as the runway for our flight to Tokyo before the check engine light came on and we were back to the gate.  Took about two hours for the repair so we finally got into Haneda not quite two hours behind schedule - and ended up at a remote stand to be bused in.  Something I normally dread but of course this is Japan so it was pretty slick and we were in the arrival terminal quickly.  The bus drivers were actually coming out to the jet stairs and offering to help carry luggage which was pretty nice.

 

I had prepared the QR code for entry which worked well with only one minor glitch - I thought it was for the family but it is for individuals so Mira did not have one.  However, being used to having back up plans I had filled out landing cards for us so was able to use Mira's and get through immigration pretty easily.

 

My eSim worked fine but the Princess of Procrastination had not loaded up her eSuica so a bit of delay while she found WiFi and got sorted out.  Then on into Tokyo via the Monorail and Yammanote line.

 

We picked up our Shinkansen tickets for Hakodate so are all set to head up there tomorrow morning.  Looking forward to it.  Not sure if I will be able to do pictures or not - I normally use my server at the university to download pictures but can't do that from here.  Have some ideas about posting pictures so we shall see.  Didn't take any on the way in - we were somewhat tired and trains and monorail were pretty crowded.

 

Ciao,

Tony

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Glad you arrived safely and with minimal hassle Tony. That "check engine" light though, what a scam. Mine came on, I opened up the bonnet, and the engine was still there.

 

Don't worry too much about pictures. One advantage of waiting until you get home to post them is that you get to re-live your holiday again.

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Tony Galiani

@mojo Funny about that check engine light.  I keep a VW Beetle as I like driving a manual transmission - something that is almost extinct in the US.  Just a few weeks ago the Beetle's check engine light came on - the engine was still there but the fix cost quite a bit for whatever module needed to be replaced.  As my local mechanic (a family business I have used for years) told me, my VW would be trouble free for a lifetime - or three years - whichever came first!

 

Anyway, currently in the breakfast room of my hotel enjoying their breakfast buffet.  At home, it's get up, get the dogs out, feed the cats, feed the stray cats (when will I ever learn) and so on.  Here I can just relax and enjoy breakfast and have things I don't normally have a home such as Keema curry.  Getting reading to go back for round 2.

 

Then on to Tokyo Station for our ride north.  Couldn't get window seats on the Shinkansen to Hokkaido but happy we got our seats.  Might pick up a bento for the ride.

 

I will plan on posting pics after I return but realized I could take photos with my iPad so including one to see how this works.

 

Cheers,

Tony

IMG_0064.jpeg

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Tony Galiani

We made it to Hokadate pretty easily though after spending 20 out of the past 36 hours in some sort of metal tube, we were eager to be out and about.  So after putting on my winter gear - my Canadian "Icelandic" socks, my flannel lined pants and so on - we headed out to go the top of Mount Hakodate.

 

We walked from the hotel to the ropeway station and had the same experience we often have when going through customs at the Canadian border.  We drive up on an almost deserted highway, turn that final curve to the customs port - and there are twenty cars in front of us.  As if they were waiting for us by the road and dashed out when they saw us coming.  We turned the final corner to the ropeway station and there were ranks of buses and lots of people heading up there.  So into the queue and a relatively short wait to go up to the top and enjoy the view for a while.

 

Then the return and it was as if everyone decided to leave at once.  The line to the ropeway started outside the building, turned away from it, turned back to it, then through a series of back and forth segments, finally into the building, then left into a viewing theater at the top, down the ramp to the bottom of the viewing theater, more back and forth, up a short flight of stairs, then a short distance to go down another flight of stairs - getting close now! - then by another viewing window - down a ramp and into the holding area for the next car.  It was pretty crazy but fun in an odd way.  No one was stressing out, the queue was orderly and we just had to get into the spirit of things and were laughing at the situation.

 

On to Lucky Pierrot only to find that they are cash only.  So no burgers for us.  Found another place in the area for dinner.

 

At this point, I should mention I won the room lottery - room overlooks the train station.  So up bright and early and when I open the shades, I notice two trains in the station - though it is still somewhat dark at 5:30 AM.  A South Hokkaido Railway KiHa,  a two car KiHa JR Hokkaido train and then two more trains pulled in - the Super Hakuto Limited Express to Sapporo and and electric train that shuttles to Shin-Hakodate to connect with the Shinkansen.  They all left by a little past 6:00 AM.  When I checked before I headed down to breakfast at 7:00 AM, there were two more trains in the station - another shuttle from Shin-Hakodate and another JR Hokkaido KiHa in the old JNR colors.  My office at home is next to the main route across the state which carries about six or eight passenger trains - in the entire day.

 

Finishing our breakfast and heading out again - hopefully a train ride to the national park about 40 minutes north of Hakodate.  In the meanwhile, some pics from our Room With a View (without apologies to E.M. Forster).

 

Cheers,

Tony

 

IMG_0070.thumb.jpeg.b076bccebae5b0dbe5467ea670ff5ba4.jpegIMG_0068.thumb.jpeg.1a4a6f429009fff99bfe3615c9797c0d.jpeg

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Looks good Tony! Enjoy your holiday, and well done on the Room with a View. Oooh, KiHa's!

 

Alastair

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Tony Galiani

@ED75-775 - here are a few more KiHas for your viewing pleasure.  I have seen most of the South Hokkaido Rwy fleet at this point.  Have ridden the Super Hokuto a couple of times as well.

Cheers, Tony

IMG_0073.thumb.jpeg.7934b0e11825fcf4565218438557ab6d.jpegIMG_0069.thumb.jpeg.949a0f6a8753e00cdd25ed515647376c.jpeg

Edited by disturbman
photo formating
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Tony Galiani

Saturday our first stop was the breakfast room - keeping our priorities in order, then on to the JR ticket office to pick up tickets for our ride up to Onumakoen, to go to the Ice and Snow Festival at Onuma Quasi National Park, as well as tickets for our ride to Aomori on Sunday.

 

Purchased unreserved seats as we were not sure exactly when we would want to return.  It turned out that festival, though about 2% of the scale of the Sapporo festival, was pretty nice.  We spent the first bit looking at the ice and snow sculptures and - with our two words of Japanese and sign language - helping take some pictures for couples in front of the Godzilla sculpture.  Actually, it was only his head and I want Jeff to know it was a pretty good size!

It had a very nice vibe with an all ages attendance which is nice to see.  Eventually, we decided to try some of the trails, doing the short one first and then the long seven bridge trail.  This last one took us over an hour due to the snow but that was not a problem.  The nice thing about that trail is that it runs along the west side of the park which happens to be near the JR line.  So we had nature and trains which worked out nicely.

Heading back turned out to be standing room only though fortunately the ride was not too long.  Standing was not too bad except the ride got a bit rough at a couple of points.  The train was five minutes late into Onumakoen and it felt like the driver was trying to make up time for the connection to the Shinkansen at Shin-Hakodate.

 

Back in Hakodate, we went to the Tully's in the JR Station for some restorative lattes.  It was really pleasant just sitting there and listening to the jazz in the background - they had on some really good music but not too loud.  Then my wife wanted to get some souvenirs in the shops there so I spared myself and went upstairs to read and train watch - win-win.

 

It started snowing late afternoon just about the time we decided to head out for some dinner and to watch the fireworks.  We had finally found an ATM that accepted international cards so had cash and could go to Lucky Pierrot.  Indulged in an unhealthy fast food dinner of burgers and fries while listening to rock and roll oldies - I remember Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman as one of them. 

 

We were close to the harbor so went down to see the fireworks along with quite a few other people.  Except 8:00 PM came and went with no show.  After about 20 minutes people started drifting away as it looked like no show due to the snow so we headed back to the hotel.  About halfway back, we hear the fireworks start and, since we were walking along the harbor, were able to see them.  A nice show in the snowy air.  Then back to the hotel where we pretty much collapsed.  Don't know what distance we walked but we were out and about quite a few hours over the course of the day.

 

Ciao,

Tony

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28 minutes ago, Tony Galiani said:

helping take some pictures for couples in front of the Godzilla sculpture.  Actually, it was only his head and I want Jeff to know it was a pretty good size!

Wow I want to see a picture of you guys with ice ice goji! Jealous of this!

 

jeff

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Tony Galiani

@cteno4 - We have one on Mira's phone.  Once we figure out how to get it to me, I will make sure you see a copy.  But it might not be til we are back.  Not sure if Goji's head is as big as you might like but it is bigger than me.

Tony

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I enjoyed my walk around Onumakoen, but it wasn’t in the snow, dunno how I’d go with that. 
 

And have you found the concrete power pole yet Tony? 😉

 

Also if you like seafood the market across from your hotel is pretty amazing for breakfast. 

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Tony Galiani

Have traveled from Hakodate to Aomori and we are now in Tokyo where I plan to catch up on my posts - as soon as I sort out my first crisis of the trip!

 

I arrived in Tokyo wearing my flannel lined jeans, my boots and heavy duty socks and my double layer L.L. Bean winter jacket.

Weather tomorrow - and most of the rest of this week - is predicted to be over 60 degrees F or 17 degrees C!

 

I am fully equipped with flannel shirts, long sleeve tee shirts and more wool socks.  Ran to Uni Qlo to buy a short sleeve tee shirt but finding lighter socks in 35 cm size will likely be a challenge.  I can disassemble my jacket to wear a lighter layer so that will help but I never expected it to be this warm on the trip - last night we were in Hirosaki in the cold and it was snowing!

 

Ciao,

Tony

 

 

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Tony Galiani

Just some random thoughts from the last few days .....

 

What is it with the gigantic suitcases everyone here seems to be bringing on to the trains?  We are traveling with a small carry-on rolling back pack each plus one small bag (which in my case is not even full).  (Though I suppose it might be full once I get to a few model train stores ...) But every train we get on has quite a few people with large spinner bags which I am estimating to be at least 1 meter in height.  On the train back from Onumakoen one young woman had the aisle partially blocked with her expanded size spinner - there were so many bags in the storage section that quite a few people had bags in the aisle.  Doesn't  seen like a lot of fun to me to be messing with these.

 

I can be slow on the uptake and was wondering why the yard at Hakodate Station was so large - more than 20 sidings plus a locomotive turntable.  But then I realized - after seeing the Seikan ferry nearby - that Hakodate must have been the main entry port for Hokkaido before the Seikan tunnel.  I see that the ferrys would carry trains and with all train traffic coming through, Hakodate must have been a very busy place.  It seems still busy today - trains run all through the day, starting with two local services around 6:00 AM immediately followed by a Super Hakuto to Sapporo and a Hakodate Liner to Shin-Hakodate.  I realize this was a holiday weekend but the volume of traffic was very high for the Limited Expresses and the Hakodate Liner.  This leads me to wonder what will happen when the Shinkansen runs through to Sapporo as, if I understand correctly, that often means the end of other lines.  But that would impact the freight service - we saw lots of freight activity when we went on our train rides in the area - and I wonder about what happens to the Limited Expresses which run along the cost.  Currently, there are twelve a day.

 

Most of the train movements we saw were the various services in and out of Hakodate Station.  Did see a DE-10 shunting one of the Hakodate Liners and reorganizing the stock for the Super Hakuto.  The oddest move I saw was when the DE-10 ran light engine into the last track of the station, sat for a few minutes and then returned back to the yard.  A silly thought but I was wondering if they were running over to pick up lunch!

 

Ciao,

Tony

 

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