Friday, July 13, 2018

Trainhopping from South to North of Japan: Kobe to Hirosaki in One Day

Hirosaki (Aomori Prefecture) is the “Kyoto of the North”. It took me 4 train changes and 13 long hours to travel from the Kansai region, south of Japan, all the way to the northernmost tip of Honshu Island. 

Aomori is the jump-off point for travels to the island of Hokkaido. The JR booking staff in Kobe had doubts about the itinerary because in one stop, I only had 10 minutes to find my next train. In Japan, sometimes looking for your platform can be a challenge. “You have to run fast,” he reminded me.

But I made it. It was an “amazing race” moment. But thanks to the reliability of Japanese trains. They’re a stickler to schedule. If anything, it would be the human factor that would de-rail the plan – me! I needed to be sharp, precise, decisive and fast. I had to be strong too because there was an 18 kilogram luggage – plus a backpack to consider.

Slept through the Tokyo-to-Aomori leg. Upon arrival in Hirosaki, it took me 5 minutes to check into my hotel. Toyoko Inn was just 2 minutes walk from the station exit. I amazingly felt rested. I love the comfort of Japanese trains. They’re clean, have good legroom, and seats are very comfortable. Plus, noise is moderated. Taking calls in the train is frowned upon. You have to go to the empty entrance area to do so.

I took a cab to the castle grounds. There was still light at past 6 PM. Hirosaki is considered the remote north. You have to get a limited 30-minute train ride from Aomori. Hirosaki Castle was beautiful under the fading sun. 

On my hike back to my hotel, I got lost. What should have been 15 minutes took 2 hours. And no one could help because it was a virtual ghost town, like Imaishi. I might as well be in a post-apocalyptic movie set. It wasn’t like I could knock on homes and say, “Can you point the way to the hotel?” It would weird people out. Apparently I was the only living soul walking the streets.

This was my 13-hour race to Zombietown!

Beautiful corner in Hirosaki Park (Aomori Prefecture)


Ola said...

Sounds like a Real adventure!

eye in the sky said...

It was, Ola. An exhausting but enjoyable adventure.