Category Archives: Site News/Updates

I’m back. 

So, good news everyone! 

I’m living in Japan again. Our adventure of living in Hawaii has come to an end as an opportunity came my way and I couldn’t turn it down. As a result, I’m now residing and working in Tokyo. 

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That said, I believe this is a good time to revive this blog and resume continuous updates regarding trains in Japan, traveling and more. 

It’s nice to be back. 


Hello again.

First post…in nearly 4 years?

I wish, I wish, I wish…I didn’t neglect this blog so bad. However, there have been many changes since then.

First (and probably most importantly), I no longer live in Japan. I moved to Hawaii about 3 and a half years ago. Due to the lack of trains on the island of Oahu, there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

At the same time, I know that if I were to restart this blog…where would I begin? There have been SO many changes within the Japanese rail industry over the last couple years. Such as…

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…the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen and debut of the E7/W7 series…

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…the debut of numerous deluxe-style trains, including the Seven Stars in Kyushu…

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…trains where you can drink sake and listen to jazz music…

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…trains that have built-in foot baths…

…and that’s just scratching the surface! There’s the upcoming opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, continuous testing of the maglev train and so much more.

Fortunately, I do have the chance to visit Japan once a year, so I try to take a couple journeys whenever I can. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to take note of anything special in particular during most visits as most of the time is spent with family and catching up with friends (not a bad thing).

Since I haven’t logged on in a while, I decided to take a look at the analytics of the site.

In 2012 (when I took the time to update and post new items), this site received a total of 9,440 views, with 372 unique visitors.

In 2015 (after 3 years in inactivity), this site received a total of 10, 667 views, with 7, 337 visitors. An increase of 1, 872%?! Doing nothing actually increased traffic??

After a little more analyzing, the most popular post by far, was The Eki Stamp, published on May 22, 2011. It’s interesting to see that 1) it’s a post that has hopefully been useful or at least interesting to many people and 2) it’s a post that is still relevant today. I realized that many of the previous posts were relevant to the time it was posted in, for example special deals on train tickets… as I am sure they have long expired by now and are of no use to anyone. But train stamps are something that will be around forever (I hope) and it’s fun to see others have fun with something that is uniquely Japan.

Living in Japan for 6 years was one of the most incredible experiences in my life and it’s still something I talk about every day to people. I’m sure those around me are sick of hearing about my stories over there, but I can’t say farewell to all the awesome memories I had. Riding trains from north to south, east to west was a large part of my experience and I look forward to riding them every trip back.

So, what to write about now? Not quite sure…I wouldn’t mind updating this site more often. But until I figure that out, I just wanted to say to visitors old and new to this site…

…thanks for reading! I hope this site gives you a small taste of what I was able to experience in Japan.


Where are the updates?!

So, I know it’s been a few weeks since anything has been posted.

…and I have a good excuse. Really.

I went home to America for two weeks and I just got back to Japan. Literally, two and a half hours ago.

Also, I’m taking Level 2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam next weekend, so I won’t have time to post anything until after the test.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to write about! NEW travelogues including a trip to Toyama Prefecture, the Keisei Airport Skyline, and the very first international edition of Densha de Dan.

See you next month!!


NitTwit

Thank you, thank you! This blog has hit 3,000 views!!!

Since opening this blog last December, I’ve made 23 posts, have gone on at least 7 trips throughout the country, and there are a few of you who have commented on my posts, which I look forward to more than anything else. For that, thank you!!

I love traveling, whether it be my train, car, monorail, boat, bicycle, mule, whatever….and I want this blog to be a bigger part of my travels not only in Japan, but around the world. For these reasons, I’ve decided to start a twitter page (and it seems like I’m the last in the world to start an account…).

Follow furenchitoasto on Twitter

On Twitter, I’ll be making posts as I’m on the train, taking pictures of whatever seems interesting. It’s almost like you get to ride along with me! Also, I like to think of it as a Behind the Scenes view into what goes into this blog.

Whether you follow or not, thanks for reading!

Finally, I want to make a promise. I will update this site at least ONCE a week from now on.

There have been a few times where it can go weeks without a post, but I’ve realized that the deeper I dive into the Japanese Railway culture, the more stuff there is to talk about. Until next time!


No Reason Not to Continue.

Hello again. A few things to cover before getting started:

I’m fine. The earthquake/tsunami which hit Japan on March 11th was definitely felt where I live, but I live well outside of the disaster areas. I’m also far from the troubled Fukushima Nuclear Power plants and it’s mandatory evacuation zones. Although Niigata Prefecture is Fukushima Prefecture’s neighbor, there was relatively little damage sustained. The Iiyama Line, a route connecting Niigata and Nagano Prefectures, suffered a partial collapse, closing the line until it’s repaired. It’s expected to be reopened sometime around the end of the month.

Iiyama Line - Source: Asahi Newspaper

All other lines in Niigata Pref. continue to run, some with limited services. The seasonal Banestsu Monogatari steam train running to and from Aizu-Wakamatsu in Fukushima has indefinitely been suspended. Other trains which often serve tourism purposes have also been cancelled for the time being. Although inconvenient, it still pales in comparison to the extend of damage caused on the east coast of Japan.

The Joban Line, which runs from Tokyo to Sendai, runs along the coast for most of the journey. Needless to say, much of it was devastated.

after the tsunami

The Yamada Line, which runs from Sendai to Miyako, Iwate Pref., and the Kita-Riasu Line, going from Miyako toward Hachinohe, Aomori Pref., was also heavily damaged, if not completely washed away.

Otsushi Station, Yamada Line - Source: Nikkei Newspaper

In the hours after the disaster, numerous trains went missing and were swept away from the tsunami. There are stories of passengers leaving the train and leaving for higher ground, but I haven’t been able to find information on everything.

The Tohoku Shinkansen, also sustained damage to its power lines and support pillars on hundreds of spots along it’s 675 km route. Consequently, about 75% of the line was closed for inspection and repairs, which is a shame since the new E5 series shinkansen was only in service for about a week before the disaster happened. Sendai Station also had a lot of structural damage. You can see the extent of it here (fast-forward about 59 seconds in):

Although the line has been reopening in sections, its expected to continue full service on April 20th. Remember, this was a freakin’ 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The quickness of repairing not only the shinkansen line, but all other lines has been nothing short of amazing. Freight lines were also quickly reopened in order to transport relief goods to the affected areas.

So, I’ve been thinking. How can I help? I’ve already donated money, but I wish there was more I can do…

…and then the answer came to me. Continue to travel. Japan is amazing, and while I’m here, I want to continue to see as much of it as I can, whether it be by rail, car, bicycle, piggy-back a drunk businessman, whatever. From what the numbers are saying, foreign tourism is way down. Not only that, even those already living here are a bit timid to start traveling to and fro again.

Despite the continuing aftershocks, and the uncertainty of the nuclear “crisis,” I don’t think thats a reason to stay home. I see continuing to sightsee as a win-win for both Japan and myself. The money I spend goes right back into the economy, and the memories I receive are priceless. The entire Tohoku region still has incredible places to visit, and I’m still determined to visit it someday.

Japan WILL recover, and I hope to contribute to the recovery effort as much as everyone else. It’s the least I can do.

Finally, some things related to the site. I know it’s been a while since the last update, but there are plenty of things to write about, so expect some new posts throughout the week. First, I’ll be taking the train out to Joetsu City tomorrow to do a little cherry blossom partying. Also, Golden Week holidays is upon us at the end of this month, which means a trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima!! Finally, I’ll update about my trip to Okinawa last month, including a ride on the Okinawa monorail.

Until then, see you next time!

がんばれ東北!がんばれ日本! - Source: Nikkei Newspaper


Link It Up

A few updates to the site.

First, I’ve started the process of adding a couple links here and there. You can see them on the right. Over there. Look. They’re sites that have been helpful to me, so hopefully it can benefit others as well.

As nerdy as that site sounds, it’s actually a really good message board thread that’s well over 5 years old, yet is continuously updated on a near daily basis. Seems more of a place to share pictures of different trains throughout Japan, but also includes some good travelogues by both visitors and residents of Japan. A few posters also translate Japanese news articles pertaining to trains, into English. (Check out the recent post about the new Shinkansen station set to open soon. They allowed the public to take a peek around the yet-to-be-opened station as well as walk around the tracks.)

Both are really good Japanese timetables. They both also support easy access from Japanese cell phones, including the iPhone and other smart phones. Almost impossible to live with if traveling throughout Tokyo. The differences? Jorudan is good for quick searches. Few options, but gives you the information you need fast. Hyperdia does the same, but it’s also good for planning other routes if you like options. Also, it gives timetable information about each line, so it’s like carrying around one of those giant JTB or JR timetable books, without the weight and bulkiness of actually having to lug one around.

JR offers a lot of different rail passes to travel throughout Japan. But if time isn’t a worry, using the Seishun 18 Kippu is one of the best. It allows 5 days of travel throughout all local rail lines in the JR system, but only for specific dates 3 times a year. I’ll go into more detail about this in a future post, as I’ll most likely be using it soon. Anyways, this site has the most comprehensive information I can find about this pass (in English).

Finally, the About page has been updated. I’m not sure if anyone is reading this blog yet, but if you want to recommend other useful sites, let me know. I’ll throw it up.

As for future posts, I have a couple ideas down the pipe. Some include talking about the stamp system in Japan, other useful passes, and I’ll be starting my series of posts covering the train lines of Niigata Prefecture. Gotta start somewhere!

 


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