With the plans for our expedition to Kyoto organised for January 2nd - 4th 2009, well under way I realised that I had better get a move on and actually buy the train tickets. Amy and I wanted to ride the Shinkansen, or bullet train (called this because the train looks unsurprisingly like a bullet!) and get there in style. Lawrence and Okano, one of our Japanese friends from Shiramizu would be driving to Kyoto in Okano’s car.
Amy was working today so it was left to me to get the train tickets, the closest station that I could get the Shinkansen tickets from is (I believe) Omiya so I caught an early, well early for me train.
I thought I would try and do the job right and not be some ignorant foreigner. I could have easily grunted a few words in semi English-Japanese like ‘Tokyo’ ‘Shinkansen’ ‘Kyoto’ ‘ichi-gatsu (January)’. It only takes a little effort to actually make coherent and polite sentences, and I think it makes all the difference. Anyway, I looked through a few (?) Japanese language books for the best and easiest way to ask for the tickets... In the end I managed to form a sentence that wouldn’t make me seem stupid!
30 minutes later, I was at the information centre in Omiya station ready to buy the tickets but I was faced with three separate queues. Being English, my first instinct was to join the longest but I decided to ask for advice instead. I mustered my non-existent linguistic skills to ask which queue I should join, and was marshalled to the longest – note to self: always trust your instincts!
The queue led to a series of automated machines, so all the work I put into my Japanese speak was useless. These machines were actually very good, and they had that magical ‘in English’ button which makes my life so much easier. At this point, the very nice guy who I asked about the queues came over to make sure that I was ok getting the tickets, I thanked him and started pressing buttons.
A minute later I had departed with the best part of 30,000 yen (approx £150.00) and had mine and Amy’s Shinkansen tickets – woo! Mission accomplished...!
For those of you that may be interested, and purely because I really had nothing better to do, I’ve plotted the rough course of our train on the map so that you can see where we’ll be going.